During the holidays many of us see our family and maybe even go back to our old neighborhood and see people we knew growing up. This can be good or bad. Being affected by ADHD often means our growing up years were hard, especially if we did not know at the time that we were affected by ADHD.
Our reputations may not have been stellar and we may not have felt stellar about ourselves back then! I have had clients ask how to manage going back home and/or seeing family over the holidays. One of the concerns is that they are afraid they might regress to old behaviors or be treated as they were when they were maybe not as together as they are now. Or, maybe, their life hasn’t turned out the way they expected or is currently in a slump and worried about how to respond to people’s questions.
I have got one word for you – DEFLECT. That is right, DEFLECT. You don’t have to answer anything you don’t want to nor explain anything you don’t want to. People affected by ADHD often explain too much, actually over explain because they are worried about being understood and seen as they wish to be seen. This is a virtually impossible task.
In addition, when we get around people from our past we can tend to regress to past behaviors that we have worked hard on getting rid of as adults. When we find ourselves doing this, we feel a sense of failure. We want people to see all the progress we have made.
Or, we may not be where we want to be currently in our life and feel uncomfortable about letting that be known. We are worried how we will be perceived.
Let go of those worries right now. Learn to deflect. I didn’t work for over ten years and had health problems neither of which I really wanted to talk about. I felt like a failure. I also felt like I had to answer every question and inquiry put my way with an in depth response but I learned otherwise.
The formula is DEFLECT = NEBULOUS REHEARSED LINE + QUESTION
Them: “Abigail, are you working yet?”
Me: “Things are starting to happen, but I really want to ask you about how your kids are doing?”
Them: “Abigail, what pain medications are you taking because you have to be careful. I’ve hear that some of those medications are addictive and you may already be addicted and not know…”
Me: “Whoa, no worries, I am getting great and careful treatment. Enough of this medical talk, I been thinking of catching a movie this weekend, have you seen any recently? Have any suggestions?”
I would practice some deflection comments based on whom I thought I might see before an event. I created an arsenal of deflecting comments and questions ready to be deployed at a moments notice for most any situations. Being situated thus much of the stress of socializing eased for me.
Pick someone in your life who you feel is a real natural at the social graces and work with them to create your own arsenal of deflecting comments and redirection questions to prepare you for the holidays social events or any other social event you are concerned about.