Impulsive behavior was sabotaging one ADDer's relationships. By stepping back and taking stock, she learned how she looked to others — and turned the trend around.
by Linda Karanzalis, M.S.
A gal can get herself in a fix when the "I" part of ADHD rears its ugly head. When our impulse control is out of whack, and we don’t slam on the brakes as words careen from our brain to our mouth, things get problematic.
Lori, one of my coaching clients, was distraught by her inability to maintain friendships. She found herself alone a lot, despite her attempts to develop a few good companions. She didn’t have trouble making friends initially. She had problems keeping them.
When Lori spent time with people she liked, she spewed out unsolicited advice, dominated conversations, interrupted others' conversations, and said one thing and did another. It wasn't surprising, except to Lori, that people didn't want to hang around with her. It wasn't that people didn't like her: She knew how to have fun and organized fun events at her house that filled up so fast that there was a waiting list to attend!
Steady, long-term friendships eluded her, though. Her "friends" found it exhausting to cope with her emotional intensity and social glitches. I worked with Lori on this. She learned that her ADHD symptoms interfered with her ability to recognize how she was coming off to friends and acquaintances. When she finally realized that her best impulses -- love and kindness -- were frequently eclipsed by less desirable ones, she started to turn things around.
One thing Lori had a lot of trouble with was sending off emotional e-mails before re-reading them. As soon as she clicked send, she usually regretted the word salad she had just tossed in someone else's lap. To conquer this habit, Lori put a red dot on her mouse and used it as a visual cue to stop and think before clicking. These days Lori spends more time relaxing instead of doing damage control about things she said.
Best of all, Lori has made -- and kept -- several good friends.
If you learn anything from this blog, learn that you need to step back from your symptoms and see your behaviors from other people's point of view. When you do that, you can create strategies that will help you reframe your words and deeds that will draw people to you.