Mastering your self control!

Mastering your self control

Note:   Kelsey Peterson was the student that inspired the creation of the Edge Foundation.  You can find other tips and ideas about how to be successful in college with ADHD with our Free Guide: College Success and ADHD.

What is self-control? I have been struggling with self-control lately. I feel like I always know what’s best but there is an inner child in me telling me to do what feels good in the moment! I went to Starbucks last week because I was running late and missed breakfast. I knew that I should order the oatmeal because it was healthy and it would keep me full longer – but the lemon bread looked so good. I caved (to myself) and got the lemon bread, but regretted it an hour later when I was starving. That inner voice that was so strong it “made” me order the lemon bread when I knew the oatmeal was a better choice.

We all have a voice inside us, some people call it our “inner child.” This voice tells us what we want to hear.  It can be hard to resist, and easy to give in. Everyone has a different inner child who throws inner tantrums for different reasons. For example, I also struggle with being late in part because my inner child tells me “I can stay in bed for five more minutes.” Self-control comes from you knowing what is best for yourself and doing it.   I just wish it wasn’t so hard!

When I was a kid, home with my parents, I was allowed to be a child inside and out because I knew my parents were there and helped make decisions for me. My parents always had my best interest at heart when making decisions for me and I trusted them to make the right ones.

When I went to college and I was away from home I had to learn how to be my own parent. Now it’s my time as an adult to start being my own inner parent and take care of myself. It’s often not fun making the right choice in the moment of temptation,  but I am always happier afterwards if I do. Here are some simple hints that helped me master my self control.

I start by identifying what I’m struggle with. For example, I am struggling with working out. I want to work out five days a week but I keep messing up.

I figure out why this important to me in the long term. I want to work out every morning because I want to be healthy and look good.

I think about how this fits with my long-term goals. I find it helps to think about my long-term goals because as a kind of reality check for myself. When I find my inner child telling me, “you could go to the gym or you could sleep one more hour”, my inner parent will tell me “I am going to the gym right now because I know I will if I do I will be prepared for the half marathon next summer”. My long-term goal reminds me why I care about something and how it’s really the best choice.

I use my coach to help stay on track. Tell your coach about your long-term goals and what you need from him/her to help you achieve it. For me just telling my coach helps because then I feel accountable. Also my coach helps me with short term check points to help me reach my long-term goal. My coach checks in with me weekly to see if I have met my weekly goal of working out five times a week. If I have met my goal then I get a “prize”. I get to treat myself by sleeping in on Sunday and going to brunch with my friends and having a mimosa, If I missed a day during the week then I have to get out of bed early, go to the gym and skip brunch. This is motivation during the week because I hate working out on Sunday and I love brunch!

I challenge you!

Pick something that you struggle with, maybe it’s getting your homework done early instead of waiting till the last minute, or not spending hours on Facebook. Whatever it is that you find your inner child pulling you towards when you know its not what’s best for you that is where you need to master your self-control.

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Juggling it all with ADHD

I have a friend who has ADHD. She is an established professional, in a stimulating and rewarding job. Work is a constant balancing act, but she somehow manages to juggle it all without dropping any important balls. In fact, I think because of her interpersonal skills and ability to react in the moment she is able to be more successful at her job than someone who is better organized, meets all the deadlines with ease, but has an abrasive personality.

Yesterday she was sharing how she was leaving town in 24 hours. She was stressing – as usual – with a huge list of undone tasks to be accomplished before the plane takes off. She confided that she’s just resigned herself to pulling an all-nighter before she left to get it all done. I could tell she felt like she was failing, again.

After she left, I realized that every time she has ever gone on vacation, the last few days are always in crisis mode. She sees other people who get themselves calmly organized, have every duck in a row, and leave town with a clean desk and wishes she could do the same.

Next time I see her I’m going to tell her about the most important thing you learn when you work with an Edge coach – discover what works for you, not for other people.

In her own chaotic way, she’s already done that. In all the times I’ve seen her go, she always gets everything done. Always. She never misses the plane. Nothing important goes astray or can’t be fixed. I think she needs the anxiety and adrenalin of the last-minute push to get her mind in gear and focused on the not-so-exciting job of getting ready to leave.

Novel concept: what if instead of feeling guilty for leaving it all to the end, she accepts that that is how she works best? And instead of letting her family or friends make her feel guilty for running at the last minute, she celebrates the fact she’s figured out how to work with her strengths – in this case the ability to pull it all together in a crisis. It’s that very strength that makes her so successful in the job she currently holds.

Sometimes it’s not about doing something differently. It’s figuring out how to make the ride less stressful for yourself – and the people around you. Instead of spending energy feeling bad about what works for her, what would happen if she spent that energy focusing on helping her family understand how to come along for the ride?

What do you think would happen if you looked at an ADHD “bad habit” and see where it’s also strength in your life? What would change for you?

For Students &How To’s and Tips Peggy Dolane 19 Jun 2013 No Comments