ADHD Relationship Dysfunction: Wiping the Slate Clean
My Fellow Distractoids,
Let’s say you are in relationship that is unhappy and that’s maybe been unhappy for a long time. You and your significant other know you need to do something major to repair the damage and reset the course, but you don’t know how to break the grip of negative patterns resulting from untreated and under-treated ADHD. When you try to talk, you just wind up in the same old bad place.
Distractoids keep banging their heads against the wall doing the same old thing. But Masters of Distraction know they must do something different: It’s time to Wipe the Slate Clean. To get a brand new start free of negative emotions so that you can begin communicating with more clarity, mutual trust, respect, and of course love. In other words, start communicating and stop miscommunicating.
What are the components of Wiping the Slate Clean?
1. Recognize that until now the root problem in the relationship is a genetic, physiological condition that very likely has been untreated or under-treated.
2. Recognize that you and your partner have very different brains and that you really don’t experience life in the same way. If you are the ADDer, get very clear that your ADD behavior likely has far more impact on your partner than you currently realize and likely has been far more damaging to the relationship than you now know. If you are the non-ADDer, get very clear that it’s not all your partner’s fault and that it is very likely your misperceptions and reactions, though logical-seeming, are also major contributors to the negative spiral.
3. Understand that your brain and your partner’s brain sometimes get their wires crossed, which results in miscommunication, dysfunction, and unhappiness.
4. Get clear that you both are good people and that each of you has been doing their best under the circumstances.
5. Combining points 1-4, let go of anger, resentment, and grievance and make a firm resolution to stop blaming one-another and cease with negative judgments.
6. Get clear that we are all one hundred per cent responsible for our feelings and our happiness. Your partner is not “making” and has not “made” you unhappy. If I am angry, stressed out, or upset, it’s because that is how I am choosing to react to words and actions. Let me say it another way: I am totally responsible for what I say and do and how I feel because those are choices I make. Conversely, what other people think and how they feel are totally outside my control. Let me say it a third way: stop blaming the other person and allowing yourself to act from a victim position. You are not a victim.
7. Forgive your partner for all past actions and forgive yourself for the misconceptions and negative judgments and self-judgments that may have contributed to conflict and mutual upset.
8. Do not attempt to communicate when you are emotionally triggered or holding negative judgments about your partner. Wait until you are feeling good or at the very least neutral.
Note: I have know people who have gone weeks and months choosing not to communicate or barely to communicate because they always felt triggered. These people have come out the other side with their relationships vastly strengthened.
9. Put aside any feelings of hopelessness for the time being and trust that you are truly beginning a new and better chapter in your life. Try to be open and curious about the changes you are making. You might be surprised by what you find.
To repair a broken relationship is maybe one of the most challenging but also most rewarding things you can do in life. If you need support, make sure and get it! A coach who is knowledgeable about ADHD can help.