The Importance of a Strengths-Based Approach to Managing ADHD
Reset ADHD advocates a strengths-based approach to managing the symptoms of ADHD. This method relies on what the ADHDer does well, as opposed to those areas of struggle. This approach has more promise than one that tries to fix those areas where an ADHDer struggles. Instead of focusing on our weaknesses, those of us with ADHD should focus on our strengths. Yes, ADHD will cause us challenges, and we need strategies to overcome those challenges. But, relying on a skill in which we are not proficient to overcome a challenge is not a recipe for success. Using your strengths can build up confidence and can help you overcome challenges created by your weaknesses.
A Better Self-Image
As ADHDers, we mess up a lot. It is in our nature to unintentionally meet expectations, whether it is our goals or the expectations others have for us. We also have a negativity bias. Our focus is drawn more towards our failures, screw-ups, and struggles. It is not good for us to do this, though, and we need to break out of this habit. Think of it this way: When you focus on your shortcomings, what sort of mental image does that create? Not the kind I would like to have of myself. I think most of us with ADHD can relate to letting our failures bring us down or hold us back. When we focus on our strengths rather than areas of weakness, we begin to feel better about ourselves. Our mental image of ourselves improves.
Overcome Weaknesses Through Strengths
The rabbit in the above gif knew she could not jump over the obstacle, but she knew she could hold one of those bars in her mouth and open a hole for herself. She may not have been the best jumper, but she is creative. She overcame the obstacle by relying on her creative strengths.
Those areas where we are weak can be overcome when we rely on our strengths. If there is an area where you struggle, take stock of your strengths, and find one that might help you in that area of weakness. For example, if a person struggles in anatomy class to memorize all of the information needed to succeed in that class, they can overcome that weakness by relying on an area of strength. In this instance, it could be songwriting. If a person is a good songwriter, they can write a song about what they need to memorize just like Potsie does in a classic episode of the TV show Happy Days:
If we have focused so much on our failings in the past, trying to shift our focus onto our strengths might be difficult because it is often the case that we do not know what our strengths are. One place to start is to pay attention to the compliments people give you. What admirable traits do others see in you? Keep in mind that compliments may not be things people say out loud. What are things people often ask you to do because they know you are good at that task? You can also look back on times you have succeeded. When have you accomplished your goals? When have you felt proud of what you have done? In those successes, upon what skills have you relied? Also, there are a few tests one can take that will help you discover your strengths. There is Strengths Finder 2.0, but there is a fee to take that test and get the results. A free alternative to that site is the VIA Survey of Character Strengths.