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The Secret to Journaling with ADHD

From time to time, I acknowledge that my clients thirst for knowledge won’t be fulfilled within a weekly session. To supply them with a consistent flow of content, I provide them with an empowering book and journaling assignment. Yet, they seem to always get stuck on maintaining their focus on this tedious task.

Once the assignment is digested, I usually get this response:

“Just a quick question about journaling; what the heck do I write...? I have tried it before and I feel scattered... do I write about my day? Feelings? Everything? And if so how do I organize it?”

Well, I've got an answer for that:

Recognizing my client as having ADHD, I remind them not to concern themselves with any sort of form. The form will come from the ideas and will eventually appear in spurts of linear thinking. Journaling can be as simple as talking to yourself about a subject. Let it serve as a place to process possibilities, thoughts, feelings, angers, celebrations, fantasies, playfulness, plans conversations, and conflicts. Take this new information and reflect, make it practical in your life.

But Hey, I’ve got ADHD so I typically...

A. I start off with good intentions and don’t follow through

B. I can’t start unless stars align, my home is immaculate, taxes paid, etc

C. I have writing paralysis and can’t think of the next word (so frustrating)

D. I don’t wanna

E. (Er, uh) All… of… the … above!

Why is There is No C in ADHD?

When battling symptoms of ADHD like short attention span, dopamine-seeking behavior, Indecisiveness, focus challenges, or just a case of the old fashion “fuck its”... the bottom line answer to focus and discipline is commitment.

When reading gets hard. Commit to a daily reading schedule or commit to finishing a certain number of pages or chapters each day. When starting to write, commit to the subject or amount of time. Start with the end! What do I want to know, or produce by the end of this journaling session? Then work backward, sideways, or jump around like a dog in a hubcap factory, no one is watching.

Commitment is about setting clear goals and sticking to them. It's not about achieving perfection or waiting for the perfect conditions. It's about making a conscious decision to follow through despite the challenges that may arise.

For someone with ADHD, commitment can be particularly challenging. The nature of the condition often leads to difficulties in maintaining focus and staying motivated. This may make it hard to be decisive. However, making a commitment can provide a structure and framework that will help navigate through these challenges.

Here are some strategies to help with commitment when it comes to journaling and reading:

  1. Start small: Begin by setting realistic and achievable goals. Instead of overwhelming yourself with the idea of writing an entire journal entry or reading a whole book in one sitting, start with a small commitment. It could be writing just a few sentences or reading a single page. By breaking tasks into manageable chunks, you make them less intimidating and more likely to be accomplished.

  2. Create a routine: Establish a consistent time and place for journaling and reading. This helps train your brain to associate those activities with a specific environment or time of day, making it easier to get into the right mindset. Consistency breeds habit and habit reduces the mental effort required to initiate and sustain an activity.

  3. Use reminders and prompts: Set reminders on your phone or use sticky notes to remind yourself of your commitment. Write down a few key questions or prompts related to the topic you want to journal about so that when you sit down to write, you have a starting point. Similarly, place visual cues or bookmarks in your books to mark the pages you want to read. These reminders serve as gentle nudges to keep you on track.

  4. Embrace imperfection: This includes the status of your dishes in the sink! Remember that journaling is a personal and introspective activity. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, and don't worry about organizing every thought perfectly. Let your journal be a safe space to express yourself freely without judgment. Similarly, don't get caught up in trying to understand every word or concept while reading. Trust that the process of reading will gradually bring clarity and understanding.

  5. Find an accountability partner: Share your commitment with someone you trust, whether it's a friend, family member, coach or therapist. Communicate your goals and progress regularly, and ask for support and encouragement when needed. Having someone to hold you accountable can provide an extra push to stay committed, especially during challenging times.

Remember, commitment is a practice, and it takes time to develop. Be patient with yourself and celebrate even the smallest victories. Each journal entry is written and each page read is a step toward personal growth and self-discovery. Embrace the journey and enjoy the process of expanding your knowledge and understanding through writing and reading.

This practice is challenging. This practice does get easier. And that's called change.

But hey, let's address the elephant in the room: ADHD. It's like having a squirrel as your personal assistant, constantly distracting you with shiny objects and spontaneous dance parties. With ADHD, starting a task can feel as daunting as deciphering ancient hieroglyphics. But fear not, my easily distracted friend, for commitment is your secret weapon.

I mean, who needs stars to align or a spotless home before starting something? Let's be honest, the only time my home is immaculate is when I'm expecting important guests or pretending to be an adult. So, let go of those perfectionist tendencies and embrace the glorious messiness of life. Commit to the process, even if your dog has mistaken your journal for a chew toy or your reading nook resembles hurricane aftermath.

Now, writing paralysis is a real struggle. It's like your brain hits the brakes, leaving you stranded on the side of the highway of thoughts. But here's the thing: the next word doesn't have to be a genius-level revelation. It can be as simple as "I have no idea what to write." Embrace the chaos and let your thoughts flow freely. Remember, you're not writing a literary masterpiece; you're having a conversation with yourself. And trust me, your brain loves a good chat.

And let's not forget the infamous "I don't wanna" syndrome. It's the rebellious voice in your head that resists any form of commitment like a toddler refusing to eat their veggies. But guess what? Sometimes you gotta put on your grown-up pants and do things you don't want to do. Commitment isn't always rainbows and unicorns. It's about pushing through resistance and embracing the discomfort. So tell that inner voice, "I appreciate your opinion, but we're doing this!"

Commitment comes in many shapes and sizes, just like the random objects you find under your couch cushions. It's about setting realistic goals, establishing routines, and surrounding yourself with reminders. And hey, imperfection is the spice of life. Embrace the messy, unfiltered nature of journaling and reading. It's not about being a perfect writer or an expert reader. It's about the journey of self-discovery and personal growth.

So, my fellow ADHD adventurers, let's raise our pens and open our books to a world of possibilities. The commitment may not come naturally to us, but with a sprinkle of humor and a dash of determination, we can conquer the challenges that ADHD throws our way. Get ready to dive into the depths of journaling and reading, and remember, change starts with a commitment. Now go forth and let your ADHD-fueled brilliance shine!

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