Viewing ADHD with A More Positive Attitude

By Laura Greenstein | Oct. 28, 2016

 

Sometimes it can be a challenge to find the silver lining—especially when it comes to mental health. When you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, it’s only natural to view them in a negative light. But that’s not always the only available perspective.

According to Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) specialist Dr. Ned Hallowell, “If you look at the classic triad of symptoms that define ADHD in the medical model—distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity—you can take each one of those and turn it on its head.”

Distractibility is Curiosity

When a person with ADHD sees or hears something in their surroundings, their attention is compromised because they need to know what is happening.

This curiosity could—and possibly should—be seen as a positive trait. Curiosity is often equated with having a hungry mind and seeking out new knowledge and experiences. In addition, a person’s curiosity quotient is one of the main psychological qualities that enhance the ability to manage complex or difficult situations.

Impulsivity is Creativity

“The flip side of impulsivity is creativity. You don’t plan to have a creative thought. Creative ideas are impulsive, spontaneous and undisciplined. Without impulsivity, there’s no creativity,” says Dr. Hallowell.

He explains that the hallmark of ADHD is disinhibition. Or in other words, people with ADHD can’t fully control their thoughts. This lack of control allows for new and creative ideas to populate in their minds in a way other people don’t experience: “That’s the ADHD mind—constantly in motion, constantly going to new places, sometimes dangerous, sometimes chaotic and sometimes really quite wonderful.”

It is due to disinhibition that those with ADHD can see things from a unique perspective, which is why they are often excellent entrepreneurs and creative thinkers.

Hyperactivity is Energy

If a person with ADHD is able to harness their hyperactivity, they can actually use it to their benefit. Most people would love to have more energy to put towards daily tasks, so the key for a person living with ADHD is to use their hyperactivity towards certain activities and not others.

It is a misconception that people with ADHD have difficulty focusing in any context—when they are focusing on something, they often achieve what is called “hyper-focus,” where they are so focused that the world around them falls to oblivion. Dr. Hallowell comments that while a person is in a period of hyper-focus “a building could be burning down, and they’ll stay focused.”

While putting a positive spin on mental illnesses can seem like an insurmountable challenge, it is possible. ADHD is more than not being able to focus or sit still—it’s having a power house brain that can be difficult to control. As Dr. Hallowell says: “If you manage it right, it can be a tremendous asset. It’s a condition that goes one of two ways. That’s why it’s so important to get the right help.” 

Comments
RobertDotcom Jackson
I never looked at ADHD as an illness, it was just something that I had that sometimes makes it difficult to focus. I used to try and fight it but realized that I should use it to my advantage. I founded my website/online marketing company in 1995 with the energy to work 7 days a week. I worked days at a computer company, nights on my company and weekends waiting tables until I had enough business built to focus on mine. I learned over the years that some days I simply cannot sit at my desk and focus so I started buying houses to remodel, flip and rent. If I can't focus at the office I can paint, clean, remodel or work on a car. The physical activities are easier to do when I can't get myself into the business mode thus I created two careers out of dealing with ADHD. There are times I am not productive but others when I am hyper-productive so I take advantage of that. I accepted who I am focusing on what I can accomplish.
1/16/2018 2:44:18 PM

Kata
I think that ADHD is my most important and best gift. I have heard that it sad that I have this problem or it's gruel that I'm not normal. But any how, without ADHD I wouldn't have done the things I have. I live on my on in different city and write books and study to be traveler. I'm good at multitasking and I'm relly good when I'm being whit people.
2/24/2017 2:31:58 PM

Chuck
Diagnosed with ADHD after successful 22 year Air Force career. No doubt, however, I've had ADHD since childhood. Personally, I view it as a blessing and not a curse. After diagnoses, medication and talk therapy, believe I have harnessed the "power" of ADHD, while minimizing or reducing the downside aspects of ADHD. Attribute much of my success in the military and corporate careers to my ADHD -- not successful in spite of it! Happy to participate in ADHD support group if one exists.
1/25/2017 9:27:54 AM

Marie
I really relate to Ronnye Gee. I have done the same with my 37 year old daughter. While she has excelled at many things, her ADHD, Impulse Control Disorder and substance abuse seem to be destroying her. i sometimes feel like I am watching a very slow movie of a life being destroyed. And there is no understanding out there in the world for any of these conditions. It is so sad, but I have to try to keep my spirits up and carry on.
12/26/2016 10:17:57 PM

Yvonne
I can relate to all of these comments! My daughter is fourteen and has been diagnosed this year with ADD.
11/16/2016 6:06:35 PM

Jo ann
Looking for a support group for ADHD / ADD parents and teens or teens
11/9/2016 10:11:16 PM

shawn andrecht
I have ADHD and I can control it and us it we needed...
11/9/2016 3:33:54 PM

Howard
ADHD can be helpful if conditions are just right, such as living in the land of Oz. Problem is, no one really cares if you have ADHD and are creative if you forget to pay your taxes and other bills, you cannot hold a job, you are in foreclosure, you cannot hold even a brief conversation about things others are interested, you cannot receive technical training of any type and you are rude for always interrupting and dominating conversations with topics no one but you is interested in. No one cares that ADHD is why you are frustrated and will be lonely and homeless. But, try to be positive with all of this!
11/9/2016 12:45:27 AM

marty
I'm interested in talking to Monica who was diagnosed at age 50. I'd like to talk to her about how she was diagnosed and what resources/things she has found useful. Thanks!
11/5/2016 9:45:26 PM

Lynn Miner-Rosen, M.Ed, BCC, CDCS
I also posted this on my wall. I am an ADHD Coach and work with college students and adults. I am always sharing the POSITIVE attributes of ADHD. This is a terrific article.
11/4/2016 10:22:12 AM

Monica Celis
I totally agree with this, I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have a son that was diagnosed too.
10/30/2016 3:18:29 PM

ronnye gee
li have lived, loved and supported, in every way possible, my forty eight year old daughter who has struggled with ADHD++ since her birth. I am a mental health professional and often feel, exhausted, discouraged, yet I continue to love, nurture and support her in as many ways as are possible. Still, I find myself feeling very, very drained............
10/30/2016 12:32:09 PM

Amanda Higgins
I posted this to my wall - my son's super power is ADHD and this describes it so well. A friend objected to it being categorized as a mental illness or disorder. I held that it is a brain health issue that requires a different approach, one that engages psychologists and psychiatrists. But that perhaps the issue is that mental illness or mental health as a label shouldn't be so scary or invoke images of only severely affected individuals in restraints. It merely means brain health and there is a wide spectrum of issues and beautiful faces like my son's that can represent that. Any other thoughts on the mental illness categorization of ADHD?
10/29/2016 11:21:03 AM