Do you struggle with racing thoughts? Are you often attacked by negative emotions that make you believe some form of the idea that you are no good? Is your self-confidence low? Do you often see the negative in things, and rarely see the good? If you answered yes to these questions, you are not alone. Many more people that you think experience these problems. Everyone experiences them at some level. I am writing this post today because eight years ago I had an ADHD life coach who introduced me to Mindfulness. I didn’t do much with it at the the time. During my educational journey to becoming a life coach myself, I discovered something that lead me back to Mindfulness. Once I learned what I am about the share with you, Mindfulness became a powerful tool for me. One that has helped me to catch negative thoughts, and simply acknowledge and let them go. I became aware that all those negative thoughts were not me. I was someone different than those thoughts. This post is broken down into two sections. The first is “Levels of Consciousness” the second is “Mindfulness”. I did it this way because it is learning the levels of consciousness that caused me to see the great value of Mindfulness.
Levels Of Consciousness
We all have thoughts coming at us all the time. Sometimes they are coming at a furious pace, and other times a little slower. Sometimes they are encouraging, and other times they are telling us we are no good. I was exposed to Freud’s Iceberg Theory several times before it really impacted me. Imagine your mind as an Iceberg. The surface of the iceberg above the water represents our conscious mind. It contains all the thoughts that we are aware of at any given time. Just below the water’s surface there is another area that represents the subconscious ( preconscious ) mind. This is where the answer to queries like 2 +2 = 4, and other facts and memories are stored. When someone asks you a question that you know the answer to the answer is called back to consciousness. The largest area in the conscious structure is the unconscious mind. This is the area of the Iceberg well below the water’s surface. This is where unconscious memories, events, and emotions are stored. The majority of these items were stored prior to your tenth birthday. This is also where most of our values, opinions, and worldview come from. The unconscious mind is the source of the thoughts that constantly come to mind, and the sometimes negative emotions that accompany them. When I was three years old I lost my dad, which had a tremendous impact on me. The problem is I don’t remember much about my dad or even missing him. My mom recalls that I cried for days, and was a complete train wreck. All those emotions are still stored in my unconscious mind, even though I can’t remember their source. Just before working on my life coaching certificate, I took a college counseling class. Our professor, to whom I will always be grateful was an experienced trauma counselor. She knew that many of her students were interested in the helping professions, because they had deep hurts themselves. For this reason the vast majority of the lessons were accompanied by homework that was designed to help us pick our own lives apart. I had heard Dr. Jordan Peterson say in a several talks that “People don’t know what they are up to”. I din’t know exactly what he meant until I understood the impact of our subconscious mind on our daily actions. If you want to overcome issues in your life it is important to recognize the thoughts are causing those issues. It is not an easy task to recognize much less change the negative thoughts and emotions as they enter your mind. This is where the power of Mindfulness can come to your rescue.
Mindfulness or mindful meditation can be practiced in a number of ways. There are a lot of great resources on Mindfulness. Lot’s of TedX talks on Youtube. For those of us with ADHD being attentive or mindful doesn’t come naturally. The most common way of practicing Mindfulness is just to turn off all distractions like television, smartphones etc.. You can sit or lie quietly in a comfortable position. Relax, take a couple deep breaths, and just purposefully become aware of your environment. You can do this with eyes open or closed. Notice the sounds in your environment. Maybe the sound of a running refrigerator, birds chirping, or the sound of a ceiling fan. If you have any thoughts enter your mind just gently acknowledge them and go back to put attention on your breathing or sounds around you. I takes a while to quiet the mind, that is why they call it practice. I will typically do this about 20 minutes or so twice per day. Even if you only do two minutes a couple times a day you will notice a difference. Once you learn to quiet your mind, you will catch thoughts as the come. When you do just acknowledge them without judging and go back to whatever you are focusing your attention on. Many people use their breath as an Anchor to go back to. Another way to practice Mindfulness is to take a simple task, and for a minute or two try to quiet your mind and perform the task paying attention to every small action. An example of this would be what I am doing right now. Normally I type instinctively and pretty quickly. Right now I am paying attention to every letter I type. I am doing it deliberately, and slowly. Paying attention to every space and character and not thinking about anything else. Spending time alone in nature with no distraction is another great way to increase Mindfulness.
Go back and watch some of the YouTube videos linked above. If you would like to find out more about Life Coaching, go the contact page and send me a message. I do a thirty minute online consulting session free of charge.
I am not a big on setting New Years resolutions. I believe our resolutions won’t likely be successful, if it is only the time of year that inspires them. I do however think that if you have some days off during the holidays, it is a great time to review your goals. If you don’t have formal, written goals then it might be a good time to do that. As I was reviewing and adjusting goals this year, I realized something. Over the last three years I have made some significant progress on my goals. I figured out why. When I used to set goals I focused completely on the outcome, and then would try to figure out what tasks would need to be done to achieve them. Of course the real work of achieving goals is pretty tough, so I found myself not wanting to do the hard work to reach the goals. This lead to disappointment. In the last few years I must have subconsciously realized what I am going to share with you today. What I realized is that I have learned to find more fulfillment in the activities that help me achieve my goals. The primary fuel that will help you achieve your goals is discipline. Sometime during 2019 I read a book called “Make Your Bed” by William H. McRaven. It talked about starting your day with a win by making your bed. I started the habit of making sure our bed was made every morning. Then I started paying closer attention to other small habits. During 2020 I started two more new habits. Habit 1 was to read my devotions every morning. Later in the year I added at least ten or fifteen minutes of exercise every morning. The key is that these activities became goals themselves, and were small, and achievable. Don’t get me wrong, it took a while to develop the habits. When I did develop the habits I felt better about myself. As I look at my goals now, I notice that no matter how big the goals I am always focused on the next step. That next step is to just add to the disciplines I already have. If you really want to achieve big goals, and you don’t already have daily disciplines, then those might be the best goals to start with. During 2020 I took a college course, completed a lengthy Life Coaching certificate course, worked fifty to sixty hours a week in my job, and am on my way to transitioning into my retirement career. I was also able transition my job from what I used to see as a soul sucking job into something much better. I started creating disciplines and focusing how my job helped my colleagues, and helped me to be more disciplined. As you prepare to make 2021 better than 2020 set small discipline goals to start. It feels good to win. Make your goals small and focused on discipline. The achievement of those goals will become fuel for your larger goals. Also notice the thing I didn’t talk about. I didn’t talk about how terrible 2020 was. That is a focus for another post, but I do want to say “focus on things you can control”. Hope this helps.
I always chuckle when I hear a CEO or any other successful person proclaim they are self made. While they may have lead the effort, the amount of work they did themselves is a tiny fraction of all the work that was done to get them where they are. In the same way you are going to need other people in your journey. People like life coaches, and those that will love you and support your journey to a better life. When I started my journey I didn’t really have either. I did eventually get a life a coach who helped me to get the ball rolling. That was the real beginning of my forward momentum. If you look in the right margin of the bapcinco.com home page, you will see two of the things that my life coach introduced me to. Mindfulness, and Green Time were both tools that helped me to get to where I am today. If you are in a position where you can’t afford coaching, look for someone around you to share your journey with. Someone who will support you in your efforts and hold you accountable. Make sure they are really a positive person who has your best interests in mind. This process might take bit, but you will be surprised who might step up to help you out. A lot of clients think a life coach is going to somehow make their journey easy or be able to do things for them. A life coach is there more than anything to guide you in coming to the conclusions that will move you forward. In the end of the first post in the Foundations series, I talked about “knowing what you are up to”. There are reasons that you act the way you do, and for the most part we are all a bit clueless about what we really up to and why. A good certified life coach will listen closely to you and help you uncover the unseen motivations, and traumas that impact you. Once you know what is impacting you, your coach can then help you to put together a plan for overcoming your challenges. Do a Google search in your area for ADHD life coaches, and counselors. Try to find someone with reviews and high satisfactions scores. I know she has quite a lot going on, but Casey Dixon was tremendous help in getting me headed in the right direction. As you begin the process of finding someone to help support your efforts, get a piece of paper or a word processor and start thinking about and writing down what you are looking for a life coach to help you with. If you have goals and you haven’t written them down, do that too. There is some power in putting your goals on paper. Once you know you really want to change, and you have someone to help keep you accountable, the progress will begin. I am so convinced of the value of coaching, I am currently working through a life coaching certification myself.
I was recently thinking about times in my life, when I was most happy. When I was a child, my mom used to take us to a small church in a small town, not only on Sunday mornings but many Sunday evenings, and weekday nights. It was during these times in my childhood, that I felt the most loved, appreciated, and accepted. It was one of the few places, I felt this sense of love and acceptance. I started with this, because many of us who have ADHD don’t feel a lot of love and acceptance in our adult lives. Some time ago successful business author Seth Godin was on a popular ADHD podcast. He attributed much of his success with ADHD, to the love and support he received from his family. Everyone yearns for love and acceptance in their life, and that is doubly true for someone who might act in ways that draw criticism from others.
The world will tell you that you can’t depend on the acceptance of others, to feel worthy. To some extent that is true. Once you internalize the fact that you do have intrinsic worth as a human being, and that there are many good things about you, you will thrive. The struggle is that until you have this epiphany, you may need a space where you can succeed. Do you have at least one place in your life, where you feel understood, and accepted? There are many ADHD support groups, and every city in our country has Christian churches where we can find this kind of environment. There are coaches who specialize in working with people with ADHD. If you are someone who feels like your life is a constant onslaught of one struggle after another, take that first step and find some space where you can be valued and accepted. This space will allow you to get through until you realize how valuable you are. I truly believe that all of us are capable of much more than we think, but we have to arrive at that moment, when we truly believe that.