From Oblivion to Action: Stages of Awareness
Maya is rocking the Awareness this week! In fact, as a followup to this blog, she just texted me that she got to work 40 minutes early today. All because she was aware and walked away from her phone. Maya you are amazing! Thank you for making my day. Here are Maya’s thoughts on building Awareness with ADHD. – dr
Being on vacation this week, I had the opportunity to receive coaching during the Success Club call on Awareness. When Dana asked me what area I would like to focus on, I chose to work on the “shiny things” that get in the way of life. Whether I’m working, playing, or relaxing, digital distractions invade my life. I admitted to Dana that even though we have discussed morning routines, I still get on my phone first thing in the morning wasting time checking social media, work and home email, and reading the news.
While I believe that awareness brought me to The ADHD Success Club, I also realize that sometimes my ADHD brain still dominates me as I consciously chose to continue habits I know are self-defeating.
The Three Stages of ADHD Awareness
Dana explains the three stages of awareness:
Oblivious: Dana explains this as the stage where you are floating through life, frustrated and guilty and full of excuses. I spent the first 45 years of my life here. Though I thought I was aware, I was really making excuses for not changing things I found too difficult and chalking it up to my big-picture conceptual brain or blaming — the education system or my ADHD brain.
Awareness: Dana explains this as the stage where you notice what you see, think, do, and the impact of your actions and your environment and others without action. This is the stage where you’re stuck and you know it, but your situation doesn’t change. In some areas of life, I’ve stayed in this sort of crossroads stage as I recognize myself consciously choosing to continue the habits of my past (sleep habits, daily routines, overall planning, digital distractions). What happens when I choose to stay here is that I feel a bad habit or choice spill over into other areas because I have to make up time for what’s not complete, so I don’t exercise, plan, play, or sleep as I should. Then, my routines and habits lack the consistency I need to live successfully with ADHD, I find myself stuck in a sort of foggy awareness of knowing but not doing.
Awareness and Action: Dana explains this as the key to ADHD success; this is when you are aware and take action on what you notice. At times, I’m spot on here. I start to throw down a jacket thinking I’ll pick it up later, but I redirect myself with forward thinking, “How has that worked for you before? Do it now.” Other times I find myself consciously choosing the wrong thing at the time: binge watching Netflix, reading emails/articles/social media, researching something interesting but irrelevant.
To build awareness, I need to move beyond noticing in a moment (not 30 minutes into an action of distraction). I need to push myself out of my head to consistent actions that help me stay the course. To do that I need to self monitor my thoughts and actions and adjust the course of my actions. Dana explains how I can build awareness by noticing, pausing, and adjusting.
Noticing I find comical because I know the voices of the screen addict, “I’m just going to check my email and Facebook.” “I’m just going to watch one more show on Netflix.” LIES! Minutes turn into hours and my course is altered–time wasted by day means less sleep at night. Then, I lack the mental clarity necessary to notice quickly in a moment. The most effective way to change my course is to stay on course, so my plan is to not use my phone in the morning for music and to involve my family in helping me begin this change. My daughter and I will listen to music on her iPad instead of on my phone, so that I don’t even pick up my phone.
If I do pick up my phone when I don’t need to, I’m going to listen to the ridiculous rationalizer voice and pay attention to keep from derailing off track, “Seriously, Maya, you know you have things to do.” The key is to do these three things: 1) notice, 2) pause, and 3) adjust/redirect.
In earlier modules we have focused on the power of the pause and this is an area that needs my constant and consistent attention. In high school, my basketball coach nicknamed me freight train because I constantly went full throttle without thinking things through. I’ve come a long way since then, but I still need to work connecting conscious thought with my actions because awareness can help me decrease clutter, control impulses, prioritize time, control ADHD symptoms, filter communication (length of emails, blurting, etc.), steer my thoughts to positivity, notice how my actions impact others, and build better habits.
Moving from mental awareness to action awareness is key to building a better me by thinking through what I do and reining myself in when necessary. In working through this, I know that I’ll have a greater peace of mind, I’ll be more productive, and I’ll be more present to others. With this goal in mind, I really am looking forward to growing in how I notice, pause, and act in such a way that I what I know and what I do are one with each other.
Maya is the weekly guest blogger for Dana Rayburn’s ADHD Success Club.