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May 25

Overanalyzing? Here is why.


By Diana C. Pitaru, M.S., L.P.C.

Defense Mechanism: Overthinking/overanalyzing

One of the most employed tools in dealing with fear and anxiety is overanalyzing or overthinking.

Typically when we try to make our mind about something or make a decision that has the potential to impact us negatively we panic (afraid of the consequences), become more controlling about the problem at stake, and eventually attempt to fend off danger by intensely focusing our attention on the occurring possibilities (also known as overthinking or overanalyzing). And yes, we drive ourselves mad in the process and the miracle solution never seems to come along.

While overthinking is a very common strategy (lots and lots of people employ it) it is also a very unhelpful tool and a defense system meant to give us the illusion of control while wreaking havoc in the background.

When we overanalyze or overthink things all we do is focus on the mind while ignoring our emotions and the body. We become removed and disconnected from ourselves, trapped in a self-induced hypnotic like state. The longer we stay in, the harder it feels to get back to that state of internal balance which instinctively we try to achieve. It is this state that leads to disconnecting from ourselves, our intuition and creativity.

Sometimes we act as if being in touch with our emotions is a sign of weakness and live our lives with the belief (delusion) that we can control our own emotions as well as others’. We ask ourselves for perfection and hope/ believe that somehow, we’re above the rest. In trying to prove ourselves different though, we exchange our humanity for a false sense of super power and close ourselves to the flawed beauty inside and out, to the inspiration that surrounds us, the dreams and creativity we all are capable of, and to the emotions (not only the ones we like) that makes us who we are.

It takes an iron like willingness and a desire to truly understand yourself to be able to pull yourself out of the trance and achieve balance, and it is doable.

As with working through any defense systems, when dealing with overthinking you must first become self-aware. Not that you go about living in the world completely unaware because up to a certain extent we all maintain a certain level of self-awareness. Draw from your child-like curiosity (that insatiable curiosity that knows no boundaries) and use it to fully understand where you are, how stuck you are and finally make a conscious decision to break through the prison you’ve created for yourself while knowing what the consequences are for both sticking with overthinking or moving away from it. Can you think of the benefits and risks of either choice?

If you’ve been using the tool of overanalyzing for most of your life, the idea of putting an end to it might be both desirable as well as frightening. On one hand you may be thinking that it would be nice not to have to split hairs over everything while, on the other hand overthinking seems to give you a sense of control; plus, it’s “the devil you know”.

So what lies outside of the familiar and beyond the walls of this defense mechanism?

The Unknown

It is the willingness to take the leap into the unknown that will make a difference for the better.

The unknown is a repository holding your discarded emotions, the repressed and suppressed ones, the things you keep to yourself, your secrets and your shame.

The idea of taking a leap into everything that you want to forget is fear inducing; after all, you’ve worked hard to put things (emotions) behind you, to not have to deal with them anymore. Why would you consciously go there? Because the emotions that make up the unknown are not behind you or outside of you. We carry them with us and at the same time we choose to not look, understand, and ultimately accept this big part of ourselves.

The leap into the unknown is what ultimately will bring clarity, resolve, and self-acceptance (and with it a deep understanding of your core self and your own flawed and beautiful humanity).

May 22

By Traci Pedersen

Facebook users who post frequent status updates about their romantic partner are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, while those who boast about diets, exercise, and accomplishments are more likely narcissists, according to a new study by psychologists at Brunel University.

For the study, Facebook users completed a survey that was designed to examine the personality traits and motives that influence the topics they choose to write about in their status updates — a topic that few previous studies have explored.

“It might come as little surprise that Facebook status updates reflect people’s personality traits. However, it is important to understand why people write about certain topics on Facebook because their updates may be differentially rewarded with ‘likes’ and comments,” said psychology lecturer Dr. Tara Marshall from Brunel University London.

“People who receive more likes and comments tend to experience the benefits of social inclusion, whereas those who receive none feel ostracized.”

“Although our results suggest that narcissists’ bragging pays off because they receive more likes and comments to their status updates, it could be that their Facebook friends politely offer support while secretly disliking such egotistical displays. Greater awareness of how one’s status updates might be perceived by friends could help people to avoid topics that annoy more than they entertain.”

The data was collected from 555 Facebook users who completed online surveys designed to measure the ‘Big Five’ personality traits — extroversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness — as well as self-esteem and narcissism.

The researchers discovered the following facts:

Participants with low self-esteem more frequently posted status updates about their current romantic partner.
Those who scored high in narcissism more frequently updated about their achievements, which was motivated by their need for attention and validation from the Facebook community. These statuses also received a greater number of ‘likes’ and comments, indicating that narcissists’ bragging may be reinforced by the attention they crave.
Narcissists also wrote more status updates about their diet and exercise routine, suggesting that Facebook is used as a platform to broadcast the effort they put into their physical appearance.
The trait of conscientiousness was associated with posting more status updates about one’s children.
The research team said future studies should look at the responses to particular status update topics, the likeability of the people who update about them, and whether certain topics prompt others to unfriend the posters.

Source: Brunel University

May 19

What Do Video Games Do to the ADHD Brain?


Posted by

Part II: What Do Video Games Do to the ADHD Brain?

The bad seems to outweigh the good
Not all video games are created equal. The most popular games, according to Forbes magazine, are first person shooter games and role playing games such as Batman Arkham Knight, Battlefield Hardline, and Bloodborne. The primary goal is to kill one’s enemies with a variety of sophisticated high-tech guns and save the world.
Other video games create environments with good story lines, puzzle solving, and empire building. Cognitive games or games that teach mental tasks are also available. However, studies performed on these games show they have very little to no impact on ADHD either positive or negative.
Play Attention uses a body-based attention controlled feedback system inspired by NASA where players can actually move game characters by mind (attention) alone. This system has been tested by medical schools in randomized, controlled studies and has proven to have lasting positive effects for ADHD students.Boy playing video games making faces isolated in white
A new study says that playing video games can create a vicious cycle for ADHD children. In the past, most research has focused on biological and genetic factors. Very little has been done to determine how much the child’s environment affects their outcomes. However, Douglas A. Gentile, PhD, of Iowa State University and lead author of the study published in the American Psychological Association’s journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture shows that environment, especially video games, can have a significant impact on children with issues like impulse control and ADHD.
Gentile’s team tracked the behavior and gaming habits of more than 3,000 Singaporean school children, aged 8 to 17, over three years. The children were administered various self-reporting tests to diagnose ADHD and impulse-control issues. The reports also required the children to track how often they played video games and the video games’ degrees of violence. The study, Gentile said, was part of a much larger study on the positive and negative effects of video games.
As has been found in past research (Christakis 2004; Landhuis 2007, etc.) the researchers found that video games both help and hurt with attention issues.
Video game play seems to increase short-term visual attention which is the ability to rapidly process information from your surroundings. For example, if you’re playing an aerial combat game, it’s necessary to quickly process and assess the number of opposing combatants so that you don’t get shot down. While this skill is necessary for this task, it is of little value in the ordinary classroom or workplace.
The negative impact is far greater than the benefits. Gentile thinks it can make it harder for some children to complete goal-oriented tasks that require long-term concentration. According to his research, the excitement and excessive stimulation of playing a video game far exceeds any ordinary daily stimulation making the real world less interesting.
Gentile also notes that time spent playing video games may also detract from the time a child might spend developing their impulse control. “Electronic media use can impair attention necessary for concentration even as it enhances the ability to notice and process visual information.”
So, the bottom line for ADHD brains: Gentile’s research and prior research have found that children who spent more time playing video games were more impulsive and had more attention problems. Even more importantly, he discovered that children who have those issues also tended to play more video games producing a vicious cycle.
Part III coming soon: How to Manage Video Game Use
Your ADHD experts are at Call them at 800.788.6786

May 16

The Art of Becoming Self-Aware


By Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.

Confucious said, “I have traveled far and wide and have yet to meet a man who could bring home the judgment against himself.”

Jesus said, “Why can you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye but not the beam in your own?”

Freud said, “The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.” Freud linked humankind’s destructiveness with his tendency to be unconscious of his deeper motives.

We all have things we don’t want to be aware of. One of the hardest things for us to be aware of is our own failings. Is is easy for us to judge others and to see the failings of others, but almost impossible to see our own failings. It is easy to say, “That person is prejudiced,” but very hard to see our own prejudices. It’s easy to say, “That person’s stupid, but hard to see our own stupidity.

It is fun to analyze the details of another person’s disturbed behavior, but not fun at all to analyze our own disturbances. It makes us feel superior to call out others for their kinky thoughts, but it elevates our feelings of superiority even more if we deny our own kinky thoughts.

However, the more we defend against the truth about ourselves, the more we have to be unreal with others and with ourselves. The more unreal we are, the less satisfying is our life. The less satisfying our life is, the more stress we have and the worse our health becomes.

When you are self-aware you are no longer destructive or defended. You embrace yourself just as you are, with all your failings and your fortunes, and you embrace life as it is, with all its failings and riches.

Psychoanalytic therapy is one of the ways one can become self-aware. This kind of therapy emphasizes the relationship between the client and the therapist. Clients will relate to their therapists much the same way they relate to others. By analyzing how the they relate to their therapists clients become conscious of the things they are unwittingly doing to prevent themselves from actualizing their lives.

In order to see the beam in our own eyes (as Jesus put it), we need help. On our own, we don’t want to look at our own prejudices. An angry wife will be quite unable to look at the things she is doing or saying that cause problems for her relationship. An African-American will be quite adept at seeing racism of whites toward blacks, but quite unable to see black racism towards whites or Asians.

Psychoanalysis, when it is working well, helps people to see what they don’t want to see. It helps them to become self-aware. Being self aware mitigates many of the problems that afflict their daily lives.

A client comes in and repeated says to his psychoanalyst, “I don’t trust people. I think they don’t like me and sooner or later they will hurt me.”

The psychoanalyst replies, “How do you feel about me? Do you trust me?”

“Not really,” the client replies.

“And sooner or later I’ll hurt you.”

“I haven’t thought of that, but I guess that sounds right. I do expect that sooner or later you’ll disappoint me, so I can’t let myself get too close to you. I have to keep you at a distance to protect myself.”

By analyzing the client’s relationship with the psychoanalyst the client is able to work through the knots that keep him focused primarily on the external rather than the internal. Once he begins to focus on the internal–on how his own tendencies, prejudices and blocks, are preventing him from moving on–he begins to make progress. That is the most difficult part of psychotherapy, and it is the point at which many clients quit.

The easy part of psychotherapy is talking about what other people do to you and are still doing to you. The hard part is when you finally get around to talking about what you do to bring about the problems that object your life. Self-awareness seems to be a rare commodity in our tumultuous world.

Looking at yourself objectively, becoming self-aware, is when the real therapy begins.

May 13

7 Kinds of Humor and What They Mean


By Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.
Back in 1964, Norman Cousins, who had a stressful job as editor of a magazine, was given a few months to live. He had Ankylosing Spondylitis, a rare disease of the connective tissues. He was told by his doctor that he had a 1 in 500 chance of staying alive and was advised to “get his affairs in order.”

Cousins didn’t listen to his doctor. Instead, he took a sabbatical from his job and checked into a hotel, where he watched funny movies to the point where his stomach was hurting. About six months later, he went back to have a check-up and the doctors pronounced that he had been miraculously cured. Since then much research has shown that laughter actually strengthens the immune system and helps promote cure in many ways.

But all laughter is not the same; we laugh for different reasons. Freud in his book, Jokes and the Unconscious, delineated three types of humor: joke, comic and memetic. Jokes were about letting out thoughts that were forbidden by society. Dirty jokes fall in that category. Comic humor makes us laugh at ourselves through identification with another’s plight. Charlie Chaplin’s humor comes to mind. Memetic or tendentious humor contains hostility, as when we laugh at people we consider beneath us, i.e., Saturday Night Live parodies of out-of-favor celebrities.

However, is all laughter equally healing? Upon reflecting on Freud’s categories, I have decided to define these categories more clearly and add some additional categories that he left out. Each category of laughter has its own motivation and its own meaning.

Malicious Humor. This is the category Freud called memetic or tendentious; it’s the most destructive form of humor. We laugh at someone we consider beneath us. Often times such laughter expresses our prejudice against a certain group, as when we tell jokes about Polish people or African-Americans or those whose religious or political views are different than ours. “How many Poles does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” “It takes five; one to stand in the chair and hold the bulb, and four to lift the chair and turn it around and around.” People also laugh at outcasts or scapegoats, making them the target of their pent-up hatred; they are also engaging in malicious humor. This kind of humor, sometimes called parody, is definitely not healing. It brings about an immediate release of anger and a feeling of superiority. But it does not resolve the anger, and since it bring immediate gratification (reinforcement) it perpetuates prejudiced thinking and societal fragmentation and discrimination.

The Giggles. This kind of humor is associated with children and teenagers, but it can happen to adults too. This kind of humor comes about when people find something so funny (often something trifling) that they begin to laugh in an out-of-control way and can’t stop. This is a case of laughter being contagious, of one person’s laughter fueling another’s, back and forth. It can be a bonding experience, and it is also a release of tension. On its deepest level, the giggles may simply be a reaction to a hard day or a difficult event, and the laughter is like a volcano of tension erupting. Since it brings about a release of tension, it has a positive effect, but its mindlessness (unconsciousness) makes the release short-lived. It doesn’t tap into the real reason for the laughter nor the tension beneath it so there is no chance to resolve it.

Jokes. As Freud noted, jokes are about breaking the rules, and there is always some anger beneath them. Dirty jokes break the rules of societal censorship, whatever it may be in a particular society. Breaking the rules releases provides us with a “guilty pleasure.” Dark humor or cruelty jokes also provide the same satisfaction. “Mrs. Wilson, can Johnny come out and play?” “You know he doesn’t have any arms and legs.” “We know, but we want to use him for third base.” When we tell a joke like this there is an unconscious satisfaction not only in breaking the rules of decency by joking about someone less fortunate than you through no fault of their own, but also by challenging authority in an indirect way.

Self-Deprecating Humor. There are certain people who are always making themselves the butt of their own humor. Sometimes they are “bumbling idiots” who are always doing or saying stupid or inane things and thereby evoking laughter from others as well as from themselves. They thereby provide others with a release and a sense of superiority while getting much needed attention for themselves. Often such people were conditioned by their families to get attention in this way. The youngest sibling may find himself or herself falling into this habit. They do or say something stupid and the whole family laughs at them, and so such behavior becomes reinforced. Sometimes they make a living from their self-depreciating humor and become clowns or stand-up comics. However, it doesn’t really make them happy, and instead it perpetuates depression. They are simply playing a role they were conditioned to play from childhood on, while suppressing their real need for respect and dignity.

Satire. This is a higher form of humor, since its goal is to “hold the mirror to nature,” as Shakespeare put it and exaggerate some aspect of human folly, pridefulness, egotism, self-deceit or self-indulgence. Children’s stories often use satire, as when the Queen in “Alice in Wonderland” is shown to be ego-centric and entitled to a ridiculous degree, constantly shouting, “Off with their heads!” when anybody says or does anything to offend her; thus it is a satire of tyrannical leaders or people. Such humor indeed has a healing quality because it allows people to bond together against abusive people and can have a transforming effect on society. Satire is an indirect way of pointing out the truth and keeping things in perspective. Like other forms of humor, it is also a release of unconscious anger.

Ingratiating Laughter. This is about pleasing someone to get into their good graces. You laugh at your boss’s jokes, even though they are not very funny. If you have a crush on a man or woman, you will likewise laugh at their jokes as a way of getting them to like you and achieving your goal of having them notice you. At other times we are laughing out of politeness. Often we don’t even know we are doing it. Since it involves dishonesty to ourselves as well as to the other person, it is more of a kind of manipulation than a genuine release of any kind.

Healing Humor. Freud called this comic humor. In this case we are not laughing at somebody, but with them. The humor of silent movie star Charlie Chaplin, as I mentioned before, is an example of this. We laugh at his character, the tramp, because we love him and identify in him. There is a truth to his plight that reminds of truths in our own situations. All of us have been underdogs at some point in our lives, and by laughing at the portrayal of an underdog getting pie in his face, we are also laughing at ourselves and releasing frustration and stress. Often this can be a transformative experience, as in the case of Norman Cousins, mentioned earlier. We come to realize that we have been living a driven, pretentious or otherwise unrealistic life and reach a new awareness through our laughter. Hence comic humor, laughing with and not at somebody, is the most healing of all.

May 10

My Mother – The Narcissist


By Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

I used to never think of my mother as having an actual mental condition. I would always just refer to her and her behavior towards me and everyone else in her life as crazy, evil, or just plain nuts. But after I wrote my bestselling book, Why Me, I got a lot of emails from people with mothers like mine; selfish, self-centered, vain women who really shouldn’t have had a child in the first place.
So what was my mother like and what was it like growing up with a mother who I believe now, suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder? While there are many more characteristics and traits of someone with this disorder; these experiences are what stand out in my mind.

• My mother was a fantastic story teller. And by story teller; I don’t mean she made up little fairy tales at night for me and my sister. She always had a story in any situation that outdid what anyone else was sharing. For example; someone we knew had just returned from a concert and was sharing their story with us about how amazing it was. But Mom had been to a better concert, had better seats, actually went backstage with the band; and wouldn’t you know that one of the band members actually wrote a song about her?

My Mom’s story wasn’t true of course; I wouldn’t figure that out until I was an adult. But that was just how Mom was my entire life. No matter what anyone else did or had experienced, Mom had it either done it better or had it worse. No one could one-up her and she was a pro at knocking any achievement I had won and making it clear that she was alpha dog and always would be.

• Nothing was ever good enough for Mom and it was everyone else’s fault that she was so miserable. Mom wanted a fat bank account, lobster every Sunday, luxurious vacations, and designer clothes; none of which was possible on my stepdad’s salary and her lack of employment. She felt that she deserved to be a millionaire and would often mock and threaten my stepdad with leaving him and finding a richer man. Every Christmas and every birthday I could see the disappointment written on her face when no present was good enough or expensive enough for her.

It was hell growing up with a woman like this because I was often used as a punching bag when she got frustrated to the point of no return. When we couldn’t afford steak for dinner; I knew that I better hide out in my room for the night. When Mom couldn’t afford to get that new pair of shoes she’d been eyeing for weeks; she would force me to shoplift them for her or suffer the consequences. Nothing – and I mean nothing was ever good enough for Mom.

• Mom didn’t have many friends and even as a child, I could understand why. Mom wouldn’t befriend someone just to have a friend to hang out with, exchange recipes, and chat on the phone. If Mom suddenly had a new “friend”, it was because she found someone that she could take advantage of. If she thought someone could move her up socially or financially; she would slide up to them and put on her fake smile in an attempt to weasel her way into their life and use them for what she wanted.

Mom used everyone in her life; including her children. There was never a sense of right and wrong with Mom – she did what she wanted when she wanted to. If anyone got in her way they got hurt and not once did I see Mom remorseful for the pain she would put me through and the countless other people whose lives she affected negatively. It was all “owed” to her.

• Mom was jealous of everyone; and not a healthy jealousy. The green-eyed monster would take over her life at times and everyone would suffer for it. If we were walking down the street and she saw a woman coming that she thought was prettier than her, my poor stepdad would hear about it for hours afterwards as she would scream and yell and accuse him of checking this random woman out. If the neighbor landscaped their front yard; Mom would have us all out there in the yard all day every day until she was satisfied that her yard looked better. She wanted everyone to want her, envy her, and want to be her.

It was sickening growing up like this because not only was Mom jealous of complete strangers; she was jealous of me – her own daughter. As I became older and began to hit puberty she would refer to me as her sister in public. She had multiple affairs on my stepfather when I was a child and would flaunt her boyfriends in front of me; as if she was showing off how many men she could get. It gave me a very warped perception of what a mother/daughter relationship was and how a woman should act.

I feel like my childhood was a crazy dance and I was moving as fast as I could to try to please someone who was impossible to please. I spent my childhood needing attention and praise from Mom, and she was too selfish and focused on herself to do anything but hurt me and put me down. I don’t even feel like I knew who I was for the first half of my life because I became whatever Mom wanted me to become; I had to – it kept her happy and may have spared me a beating or two.

It wasn’t until I was an adult and had completely cut Mom out of my life that I began to realize who I was, what I wanted out of life, and what was important to me. I couldn’t even focus on myself until I was strong enough to completely leave her and my childhood where it belonged; in the past. I was tired of having anxiety, feeling unloved and unworthy of love, and catering to everyone’s feelings but my own. Leaving Mom and her selfish ways in the past was difficult, but necessary to move forward with MY future.

Don’t be afraid to leave the past behind; it’s your life and you are in charge of it. Once the narcissist is out of your life; maybe you will realize how awesome you really are.

May 5

By Janice Wood

People whose jobs require more speaking, developing strategies, conflict resolution, and managerial tasks may experience better protection against memory and thinking decline in old age than their co-workers, according to a new study.

“Our study is important because it suggests that the type of work you do throughout your career may have even more significance on your brain health than your education does,” said study author Francisca S. Then, Ph.D., of the University of Leipzig in Germany. “Education is a well-known factor that influences dementia risk.”

For the study, 1,054 people over the age of 75 were given tests that measured their memory and thinking abilities every one and a half years for eight years.

The researchers also asked the study participants about their work history, then categorized the tasks they completed into three groups: executive, verbal, and fluid.

Examples of executive tasks are scheduling work and activities, developing strategies and resolving conflicts. Examples of verbal tasks are evaluating and interpreting information, while fluid tasks were considered to be those that included selective attention and analyzing data, the researchers explained.

Memory and thinking abilities were examined through a clinical test, the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). In this test, a small decline in points can indicate a clinically relevant deficit, according to the researchers.

The study found that people whose careers included the highest level of all three types of tasks scored highest on the thinking and memory tests by two MMSE points over people with the lowest level.

People with the highest level of all three types of tasks also had the slowest rate of cognitive decline, according to the study’s findings.

Over eight years, their rate of decline was half the rate of the participants with a low level of mentally demanding work tasks. Among the three types of work tasks, high levels of executive and verbal tasks were associated with slower rates of memory and thinking decline, the researchers noted.

Participants with a high level of executive tasks scored two MMSE points higher on memory and thinking tests at the beginning of the study and five MMSE points higher after eight years in the study compared to participants with a low level of these tasks, according to the study’s findings. Participants with a high level of verbal tasks declined an average two MMSE points less than those with a low level, the study found.

“Challenges at work may indeed be a positive element, if they build up a person’s mental reserve in the long-term,” said Then.

The study was published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Source: The American Academy of Neurology

May 3

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
There are many misconceptions about getting organized for adults with ADHD. Believing these misconceptions can quickly stall and sabotage your efforts.

For instance, one common myth is that one organizational approach works for everyone. If you internalize this myth, when one approach doesn’t work for you, you give up and assume you’ll never get your life in order. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Below, ADHD experts set the record straight on three stubborn myths about organizing — and what works instead.

1. Myth: You should handle paper only once.

Fact: “I cannot count how many times I’ve read or heard about this so-called life-saver of a technique for getting and keeping things organized,” said Terry Matlen, MSW, ACSW, a psychotherapist and ADHD coach.

However, handling paper once is just not realistic. It’s not realistic to expect yourself to put away every piece of mail you received after a long, tough day at work. Often you just don’t have the energy to file a bill or pay it right away, she said.

Plus, following this myth can actually build clutter. “[With this] myth playing in your head pushing against the reality of your schedule, you’re likely to just toss the mail in a pile,” said Dana Rayburn, a certified ADHD coach. And that pile is likely to grow and grow.

Instead, Rayburn suggested a strategy called “planned delay.” “Set up your paper system knowing you will handle paper more than once.” Create a temporary spot where you’ll stash papers until you’re ready to deal with them.

“When paper comes in, quickly decide what you need to do with it. If you won’t use it, toss it in the recycling or shredder. If you need to handle it later, put it in the temporary place.”

Review your stack every few days, so it doesn’t add up, added Rayburn, who provides group and private coaching programs to guide ADHD business owners and professionals to get organized and manage time so they can live more successful and effortless lives.

Matlen suggested this system for managing paperwork, which she discusses in her book The Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus and Get More Done.

She also added: “I’m not saying it’s not worth trying — maybe it will work for you — but I find that most adults with ADHD have quite a tough time with this strategy.”

2. Myth: If a strategy didn’t work the first time or stopped working, forget it.

Fact: Clients often dismiss a strategy that worked for a short time or never worked, said Abigail Levrini, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and co-author of the book Succeeding With Adult ADHD: Daily Strategies to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Manage Your Life with Frances Prevatt, Ph.D.

They assume that this indicates it wasn’t the answer for them, she said. But because of the nature of ADHD, it’s common for strategies to stop working. That is, the novelty of a strategy eventually wears off and loses its effect, she said.

Instead of tossing out a strategy altogether, what’s more helpful is setting it aside or tweaking it, said Levrini, co-author of the forthcoming book ADHD Coaching: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals. In the future, the idea might feel fresh and new, and thus work more effectively. If you’re using a color-coding system, a tweak might mean trying stickers, numbers or different colors, she said. In other words, slightly change a strategy, “but keep the main idea the same.”

3. Myth: Manage tasks and paperwork with a “tickler file.”

Fact: Rayburn has come across this tip in several books for people with ADHD. If you don’t know what a “tickler file” is, it’s a notebook or set of files numbered one through 31 for the days of the month, she said. People place paperwork, notes or even entire folders behind the date you’re supposed to work on them (e.g., pay a bill). You have to check the tickler file daily.

Rayburn surveyed her newsletter readers to see what they thought. “Most people said that tickler files don’t work for inconsistent people.” This kind of system is “too darn easy to screw up.” It falls apart, she said, when you neglect to check it for a day or two or more. “Bills go unpaid, papers get lost, planned tasks don’t get done.”

Instead, it’s better to create systems that function despite being neglected, she said. Rayburn suggested setting routine reminders on your phone or planner to prompt you when to do things.

When you have ADHD, knowing how to get organized and doing it can be overwhelming. It can help to see an ADHD coach or a therapist to find strategies that work specifically for you.

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