Category Archives: Spiritual Connection

Relationships are Hard Enough

Relationships are hard. When you or your partner has ADHD, it gets even more difficult. Just as a check-in, does this sound familiar:

“So, did you go to the store and get what I asked you to pick up?”

“Of course. Here.” I hand her the OTC medicine she had told me to pick up. She examines it. Then, with a granite-hard face, looks up at me.

“This isn’t what I asked you to get.”

“Yes it is.”

“No. I wanted ointment, not cream. You got cream. I texted you specifically what I wanted.”

“Really? There’s a difference?”

“If I had wanted cream, I would have asked for cream. How can I be more explicit? What do I have to do to make this more clear to you? And, did you get the rice, broccoli and chicken?”

“Uh oh,” I say in a small voice.

“Which one did you forget?”

“The rice.”

She looks down, shaking her head. “I texted the list to you. It’s right there in your phone. What more do I need to do? When you agree to get what I ask for, then don’t, it makes me feel like you’re not listening to me, that you don’t care.”

“That’s not it. Of course I care!”

“Well, what happened? It was only four items. You messed up two of them?”

“Do you think I did this on purpose? I’m sorry! I messed up. I’m really sorry.”

Shaking her head. “Sorry doesn’t matter if this keeps happening. You had a specific list!”

“I’m sorry. I was in a rush. Traffic was terrible. I forgot my phone in the car. I didn’t take it in with me. Regarding your medicine, I saw ointment and cream…I picked the wrong one.”

“So…if you’re not going to take your phone into the store, why should I bother texting you the list? What’s the point? Maybe I should just go to the store myself from now on. Even though it’s less convenient, at least I know we’ll get everything we need.”

Resigned sigh. “Maybe you should…”

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Been there? Done that? Has this happened to you? This is the part of ADHD that really sucks. No matter how diligent we are, there will be times when we’re off our game. The result is a two-fold negative. First, your loved one is disappointed, hurt, frustrated, angry, inconvenienced. It’s hard to be on the receiving end of an ADHD moment. For the one with ADHD, you might feel stupid, ashamed, guilty, hopeless. The more often it happens, the more depressed you might feel.

Really, it sucks.

And this type of scenario can happen at any time when we get off our program. Or when we’re in a rush, feeling overwhelmed. Or when we’re experiencing a lot of stress. There are pressure points and triggers.

One of the things you might often hear is: “Why don’t you manage this? This is completely avoidable if only you managed it better, right?”

On the surface, of course. But, much of ADHD isn’t on the surface. It’s nuanced and subtle at times. We might be managing the big stuff – remembering to take our meds, keeping a good calendar, eating right. But, there are times when we’re feeling the stress from being overwhelmed, or we’re just struggling to manage everything we need to manage.

To a “normie”, it seems incredibly inconsistent when one moment we’re highly focused, creating a masterpiece – and the next we can’t remember to pick up coffee on the way home from work. A “normal” person manages these little things (and quite often doesn’t have the skill or hyper-focus to create a masterpiece). So, while on one hand we’re doing miracles, on the other we can’t get simple tasks done – routine chores and requests that need to be done in order to maintain harmony.

ADHD is a neurological/biological medical disorder. We, and those whom we are with, often forget this. Unlike other disabilities, it isn’t readily apparent. I bring this up not to make an excuse, but to remind that a person with ADHD isn’t normal.

And it can create havoc in a relationship. Any kind of relationship. Whether with a spouse, family member, friend, employer, teacher or anyone else, ADHD “moments” have an effect. These moments build over time. While family members tend to have more tolerance (what choice do they have?) and learn to do work-arounds, friends, employers and others often do not have such high levels of tolerance.

A loved one will typically work hard to help and to create workable solutions. But even the most patient and loving spouse has a ceiling. The person with ADHD needs to have empathy, an understanding that living with their disorder isn’t easy for a “normie”. Communication is important, as is a sense of humor. The person with ADHD must also be open to hearing how their behavior affects others – and demonstrate humility rather than defensiveness. That’s hard.

In an employment situation there likely won’t be as much tolerance. Business values the types of behaviors that people with ADHD often find challenging. Organization, multi-tasking, meeting deadlines, being on-time, curtailing mistakes – these executive functions are valued in a business setting.

Do you have a job with a lot of moving parts which challenges you organizationally, leading to overwhelm, stress and brain fog? An employer may decide that you are not a good fit. They may be right.

Even if you are in a situation that seems to be a perfect fit, there will still be routines. If you don’t have a system for handling the dull stuff, you may just undermine your perfect situation.

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I know. It can be really frustrating. There will be times when, literally, you just want to sell everything and become a gypsy – leaving everything and everyone behind. You don’t want to hurt people anymore, and you don’t want to feel like a failure yet again.

While there will always be a logical, systemic way to manage your challenge areas, I’ve found that something else is needed, too.

A spiritual connection is also important. When stuff happens, especially when you’re going through a series of ADHD moments and you’re feeling hopeless, having an active prayer life or a connection to the divine is absolutely necessary to manage the emotional side of the disorder.

For me, and for many others I know, having daily conversations with God is especially helpful. Combined with the other good things we do to manage the disorder (meditation, nutrition, etc.), having a talk with God can be extremely liberating.

I’ve said the following more than once: “God, I’m having a tough time right now. It seems like my disorder is getting the best of me right now. I recognize that my behavior is affecting others negatively, and I’m not feeling very good about myself right now. God, I’ve made amends to the people I’ve affected, but I need your help to feel better about myself.

“God, I know it is not my fault that I was born with this disorder. But I am grateful that you have given us ways to manage it and make it better. I realize that I won’t be perfect in this, so I forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made and for letting down my guard during times of stress. I am thankful that there is a prescription I can follow to bring more sanity into my life and into the lives of those with whom I am around.

“I also recognize, God, that you have created me for a purpose. That, despite this disorder, you have blessed me with gifts that can be used to help others. And in helping others, in utilizing my gifts, I find my purpose in your perfect will. You have made me for a reason – and it is good. I am grateful for the purpose you have given to me, I will be gentle with myself, and I will open my heart to your love and experience your peace. Thank you, God.”

This prayer, or something like it, always centers me. It creates a perspective that actually takes me out of my self-centeredness and gets me focused on the things I do well, and what I can do to help others.

For me, it works. Perhaps having a connection like this will work for you, too. Just keep in mind that if you’re breathing, you have a purpose.

Sometimes, Having ADHD Really Sucks

There are times when having ADHD really is a blessing. For whatever reason, when we were born our wiring was different. The advantages of this wiring is that we tend to exhibit a higher degree of creativity and dimensional thinking, among other traits.

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I like to think that mankind would never have progressed without people whose wiring was different. ADHDers are risk takers, adventurers, explorers, inventors, creators. We will walk into the unknown places and dive into the world of shadows.

While this insatiable hunger for novelty has led to incredible cultural progress, the dark secret is that we must walk into the line of fire because our brains need the stimuli.

Let’s face it, boredom feels like a kind of slow and torturous death. Routine, structure, linear systems and thinking…these are the bane of existence for an ADHDer. And yet, to make our way in this world, we need to manufacture a way to build structure.

This process is maddening. For most normies keeping a calendar or mowing through a list of priorities, balancing a checkbook, remembering to walk the dog, or keeping a closet orderly are fairly simple and easy tasks. Not for the ADHDer. Activities like these are as difficult as crossing the Pacific Ocean in a row boat.

Undiagnosed and unmanaged ADHD is really messy. And, it really sucks. The longer it goes unrecognized and not addressed, the worse it gets, the crazier we feel, the weirder people think we are.

We screw up relationships, lose jobs, isolate, get depressed, live a life of not so quiet desperation.  Statistically we know that these things are true. If we continue to be round pegs trying to fit into square holes the frustration and dissatisfaction will continue to grow.

So what can we do? How can we put this mad life to an end and begin living a life that we love? I think there are four important things we have to do to set the stage for living a satisfying, soul quenching life.

Don’t fear a diagnosis. Embrace it. The moment you accept that you have a neuro-biological medical disorder called ADHD, the better off you will be. There is a reason why you act impulsively, forget stuff, and have difficulty keeping your desk organized. Embracing the diagnosis brings relief and clarity, opening the door to a new possibility for a satisfying, authentic life.

Take care of your brain. That is, do what you can do to improve brain function. Take your meds, vitamins and supplements. Eat healthy foods and cut the junk.  Exercise. Meditate, Take breaks, especially after a period of intense mental activity. Reduce bad stress. Quit worrying. Seek forgiveness.

Practice spirituality. A spiritual connection is essential. This connection helps us to get out of our heads, focus on a purpose bigger than ourselves, see to the needs of others, fill the emptiness inside of us, provide  sustenance to our souls.  Whatever your spiritual connection might be, practice it daily. The spiritual connection can help bring sanity to what might seem a crazy life, can create grace and mercy where there was once admonishment and self-destructive negativity, cover us in love rather than blame.

Take directed action daily. Have a goal and work toward it. Do at least one thing each day that brings you closer to this goal. Something you may have to do is take a look at what you are doing. Are you in a job that takes best advantage of your skills and natural talents? Are you in a mutually supportive relationship? Take a look at the life you’re currently living – is it authentic? What doesn’t fit? Will you make the changes you need to have the life you love? Directed action every day will take you deeper into what strengths you need to nurture, and what things you need to let fall away.

None of these things are easy, but, you are an amazing creation of God. You have everything you need right now to succeed. Get real and get help. Having ADHD doesn’t have to suck.

Loving the Life You Live

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde

MasqueHmm. In a recent survey by British phone maker, HTC, 75% of people  said they make their lives seem more exciting (than what’s real) on social media.

That probably isn’t too astounding to believe. It’s been drilled into our heads to not trust what we read on the internet, right? A little embellishment is okay, isn’t it? We expect that, don’t we?

What about this: according to the Society of Human Resource Managers, 53% of resumes have a falsification. Mix into this the fact that worldwide twice as many hate their jobs compared to those who like what they are doing.

How about this: GlobalWebIndex reported that 42% of those using Tinder (an online dating site) were married.

There’s so much more. There is a study or survey on everything.  A lot of it isn’t promising.

Why not? Why aren’t we loving the lives we lead?

Generally speaking we all have something in our lives that is satisfying. Some more than others. And life satisfaction isn’t really tied to money. Granted, having enough than not enough contributes to overall satisfaction, but only fractionally (Gallup reported that of those making $125,000 or more only 60% were satisfied). In employee surveys financial compensation is typically way down on the list of why someone is happy in their jobs.

Early in my career I had worked hard in creating a merger between the organization I led and another local entity. It took over a year to navigate the deal – but once it was consummated, I was named the executive director for the new organization, doubling my salary. And the moment it happened I could feel the emptiness in the pit of my stomach. I knew this wasn’t going to be the right fit. I endured for two years, finally resigning. I began living a life meant for someone else – I was bored, dissatisfied, and cranky.

Thoreau said that most men live lives of quiet desperation. That’s the thing, isn’t it? All too often adversity happens. We make choices in response to that adversity. Suddenly, 20 years later, we’ve lived that life of quiet desperation. Maybe we’re satisfied with certain things – but overall there is a lot of things we would change.

We don’t get do-overs, though, do we? Or…do we?

In doing research I have scanned many many prescriptions for living a life we love. Common themes emerged – some obvious, some surprising. Shockingly, there were a few no-brainers that didn’t make anybody’s list. Maybe I was shocked because the omitted items were things my grandmother, Babe, taught me.

The most basic thing we need to grasp is that loving the life we live is proportional to the positivity of our attitude about life. To that end, here are the pillar concepts:

Live for today, in the moment. Some call this “being present”, Life is lived in a never-ending state of NOW. Life happens NOW, in the moment. Jesus said don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow – there is enough to think about today. Grandma Babe said to take time to smell the flowers (and you may as well pick a few while you’re standing in her garden).

Being PresentBe grateful. Cultivate in your heart a feeling of generalized gratitude by daily considering those specific things in your life for which you can give thanks. In fact, do this: when you wake up in the morning, immediately give thanks that you are alive and breathing. Give thanks for having shelter, food and the other stuff inside your walls. Give thanks for all the people who love you – and whom you love. Do that daily. The gratitude mind-set will seep in. Babe would say, “Be happy you were born in America and not (fill in the fascist country of your choice)”.

Be true to yourself. Sometimes it is hard to drill down through all the ideas about life you’ve adopted based upon reactive choices, or by being influenced by people close to you. But, the treasures are there. You can hear them whispering at the edges of your consciousness. Sometimes they shout at us. Either way, you know. The truth – your truth – is there, in your heart. I’ve written an entire section on this subject in my book, Blazing into the Creative Wilderness. The basic is something my grandmother told me, “Follow your heart. The rest isn’t really worth your time.”

Give. Human beings, at our core, tend to be selfish. We’re focused on our survival. But, there is also this little bit of magic in us that let’s us see others, too.  We begin by giving to those around us, the people we love. For most of us, we receive love in return.  As we grow and gain experience, we learn that the more we give, the more we receive. It isn’t always reciprocal with everyone, but the scales balance eventually. There is an ebb and flow. Babe was a giver. More than anything else, she gave love. Even now, many years after she passed away, she’s still giving to me, and her memory continues to wrap me in her warmth.

Love. It’s simple to say and hard to do. Love isn’t an emotion – it is a choice. It encompasses giving, forgiving, listening, receiving, and so many other things. Grandma was married to my grandfather, Herb, for 55 years. It wasn’t always easy. They survived the depression, world wars, and so many other adversities. But, they had love. Love for each other, for their children, for their community.

Laugh. As Babe told me, it was the secret to being married to the same human being for 55 years.

Love God. Jesus gave two great commandments to His disciples that sum it all up: Love God with all your mind and your heart, and love others as you love yourself. Pretty simple. Despite the secular humanism and relativism that pervades modern culture, by and large the most successful and happiest people believe in God, or at least a universal power that was far greater than themselves. What’s interesting to me is that each of the pillar concepts in this list describe some aspect of our limited understanding of God.

300px-Hands_of_God_and_AdamObviously there are many other things to consider, nuances, things specific to your situation. But, by focusing on these pillars you’ll be well on your way to loving the life you live. Don’t take my word for it – trust Grandma Babe.

 

Success & the Law of Attraction: The Missing Link

When The Secret exploded into our popular culture, the Law of Attraction was suddenly everywhere. Even Oprah weighed in.

There was nothing new about the Law of Attraction. This wisdom has been around for thousands of years. “As a man thinketh, so he is” comes to mind. We really do create our own reality because everything begins with a thought.  If we think negative thoughts, the world will seem dreary, lonely and everyone will call you Eeyore.

On the other hand, if our thoughts are positive, we will have a tendency to attract positive things into our lives. In fact, through the science of positive psychology it is proven that those with sunny dispositions tend to have happier, more prInspiredLightningoductive lives.

However…many who have attempted to implement the Law of Attraction have been sorely disappointed when the man/woman of their dreams remains in silent slumber, their checking account still comes up short at the end of the month, and their best vacation option is a long weekend at the Motel 6 in Bakersfield (that’s right, “Sun, Fun. Stay, Play!).

What the purveyors of the Law of Attraction didn’t tell you is that there is a part 2 to making this concept work. Yes, you need to see it and believe it, up your ante on vibration, and open your mind to the possibility of new possibilities. After all, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive, it can achieve.” Thank you Napoleon Hill. This is truth.

What is also true is that you can’t just stop at naming and claiming. There is some work involved. Here are the three things you need to do after you send your request to the great distribution center of the universe.

Gain knowledge. So you want to be an internet gazillionaire? Terrific! After you put in your request, start learning how online commerce works. Sign up for Wealthy Affiliate, read Online Marketing for Dummies, find yourself a hungry Millennial who can show you the ropes.  Whatever it is your heart desires, you best be learning how it works, discover the nuances, and learn the dance you’ll have to do to manifest your dreams.

Gain skill. As you add knowledge, put the knowledge to use. This is the action part. To be an internet gazillionaire you will need a website. You will need to be a marketer. You’ll probably need to write copy and do design work. You’ll need to Like, Tweet and Post. In other words, you’ll need to work. If the work follows your dream, it won’t feel like work at all. Hopefully it will be a joyful exercise in fulfilling your deepest desires.

Get connected. Internet gazillionaires don’t live in a vacuum. They aren’t shacked up at a cabin in the woods or live in a silent monastery somewhere in the Italian Alps. They are connected to people. Key people. They have a community. Find yours. This is actually the scary part for a lot of people. We’re afraid that we won’t measure up, won’t be accepted, won’t be taken seriously. We fear rejection. Keep this in mind: everybody experiences this in one way or another…so, if everyone experiences this, we’re all equal! Reach out to a potential mentor. Ask questions, As you receive, be willing to give. Be reciprocal. Pretty soon you’ll attract your community.

In my book, Blazing into the Creative Wilderness, I go into each of these three areas. Check it out if you want more detail.

Whatever you do, don’t just focus on part one of the Law of Attraction. Make the elements of part two a daily ritual. Within time you’ll be living the life you love.

 

The Power of Prayer in a Postmodern World

The rash covered her body. She was burning up with fever. She felt like she was going to die. Debbie, 39, did two things immediately: she called her doctor – who didn’t even need to see her: she had scarlet fever, a childhood disease that is pure misery, and would likely put her on her back for at least two weeks.

Her doc prescribed the needed antibiotics and told her to rest, She’d see her in two weeks when the rash finally went away.

The second thing she did was call her girlfriend, Molly. Immediately Molly activated the prayer network at their church. The congregation was small, maybe 50 people, but they all began to pray for God to heal Debbie.

By Sunday the rash had gone away, as had the fever. On Monday Debbie felt as if nothing at all had happened. Her scarlet fever was gone.

Before you say, “whoa there, Cowboy…the antibiotics must have kicked into overdrive”, consider Veronica.

She had a strange, painful growth on her skin near the clavicle. She saw a specialist who did a biopsy. Sure enough it was chock full of cancer.

She belonged to a prayer group that, or course, went to work.

Veronica was scheduled to have the growth, and likely a pound of flesh surrounding the growth, removed about a week later. When she went to see her surgeon, there was no sign of the growth, certainly no evidence of cancer.

“I can’t operate on something that isn’t there,” he said, and sent her on her way.

The moral to these stories: prayer works. Of course, we’ve known that for about 5,000 years. But, during the modern age of medicine many (if not most) doctors, researchers and otherwise rational people cast aside prayer as superstition or as a benign, harmless activity that made people feel better. A spiritual placebo.

However, about 10 years ago a new movement, neurotheology, was born. Neurotheology (aka the neuroscience of spirituality) takes a long hard scientific look at spiritual practices and how they affect the brain – which leads to how they affect quality of life. What they have found is that those engaged in meaningful, intense prayer and other spiritual practices experienced significant changes in their brain.

Many more studies have been done. One study (captured in a story done by NPR in 2009) followed the research being done by University of Wisconsin neuroscientist, Richard Davidson. He wondered if the brain could change for people who weren’t prayer warriors for hours each day – but led normal lives. Participants spent 30 minutes per day in prayer/meditation during the study.

Lo and behold, through a process called neuroplasicity, their brains began to change within two-weeks. For example, those who focused on being more forgiving actually saw changes in the parts of the brain that produce compassion. (I’ll be writing more about neuroplasicity in other posts.)

So…that’s the physical effects  of prayer. But, what about the results? Isn’t that what really is meaningful to us?

Let’s face it, not every prayer is answered. Maybe that has more to do with how we pray, than the efficacy of prayer itself.

In research done by Larry Dossey, MD (a pioneer in the neurotheology field), certain types of prayers tend to be more effective than others.

For example, if I were to pray: “God, please let me win the lottery!” Chances are that my prayer being answered is directly proportional to the odds of winning the lottery.

However, what if I prayed: “God, I believe in your provision, and I pray that you will provide so that the best possible outcome is experienced by all involved – and I am thankful and grateful for whatever that outcome happens to be.”

I cannot even tell you the number of times I, or friends of mine, have prayed something similar to this and a check finds its way into my mailbox the next day…or my friend finds a $20 bill in old coat pocket…or another friend lands a contract they didn’t expect.

I think it’s not about what we pray for – but the attitude from which we offer the prayer. Being thankful and grateful. Accepting. Not being attached to outcomes. Living in the moment, doing the next indicated things on the journey. Proceeding with confidence and faith. And trust.

The research that’s being done will verify what we know in our hearts. Prayer works. Just ask Debbie and Veronica. They’ll stake their health on it.

 

Is a Spiritual Connection Really Needed?

Does leading an authentic life really require a spiritual connection?

If you are a seeker like me, you’ve pretty much witnessed that every teacher, guru, New Age purveyor and/or life coach has connected authenticity with spirituality. Are they right? Is this a necessity?

There are many that shudder and cringe at the mere mention of “spirituality”. What’s interesting to me is that in conversations I’ve had with friends from differing backgrounds, all too often atheists and Born Agains often have the same reaction to the modern use of the word “spirituality”.

The Godless ones believe we’re just skin and bones with a brain, the ultimate creation of evolution. There is no higher power or spirit beyond self that’s running things. My Born Again friends believe the modern definition of spirituality is much too broad and all-inclusive, a direct contradiction to their “turn or burn” ethos.

Hmm. Where does that leave us?

Most of the successful people I have known did, indeed, believe in some kind of higher power. The attitudes I illustrated above are extreme ends of the spectrum. Most of us dwell somewhere in the middle – and our relationship with spirituality is as complex as it is individual.

Whether it is an all-knowing celestial benefactor, walking on the water messiah, or a pantheon of gods playing dice with our souls, the common theme I have seen is that there is agreement that there is something bigger than ourselves.

And at the core of this belief is a shared experience of morality. From this I find the next agreement: The authentic life is inherently moral.

I think it is best said that, while we are all so different, we share basic agreements about morality. Don’t lie, cheat or steal. Definitely don’t commit murder or commit otherwise senseless violence. Respect another’s property and relationships.

We all pretty much agree on these things. But, beyond the rightness or wrongness of things, there is one practical thing to consider: lying, cheating and stealing simply don’t work.

Sure, anyone can get away with this type of behavior for a while. But, when it is discovered there will be wreckage and chaos and hurt. Separation will occur until the amends are made, a new pattern of behavior is established, and forgiveness is offered. Even then trust may be hard to re-establish.

I have a friend that runs an alcohol and drug treatment facility. He has told me that the main cause of addiction and the horrible wreckage it inflicts is all due to a “spiritual break”. It’s a loss of internal integrity, seeking meaning through artificial means. A facsimilie for real life.

From what I’ve seen and experienced, an authentic life does require a belief in something bigger than ourselves – in fact, I think it requires a commitment to this higher calling. It’s been proven time and again that when we place our focus on helping others get what they want and need, our needs typically are well met. This principle is basic to business success. It’s also true in one-to-one relationships.

So, maybe one definition of spirituality as it applies to authentic living is our connection to that which is larger than us – an unseen energy that we can nevertheless feel in our hearts.

Therefore, authenticity seems to require getting over ourselves, This is a simplistic answer. Throughout this site there are different ways to explore the complexities of leading an authentic, fulfilling life. But, maybe we can agree that having a calling bigger than ourselves is valuable and important.

Does that mean having purely personal goals are inconsistent with leading an authentic life? Of course not. In fact, they are essential! In the next post I’ll explore why this is so.