A lot of ADHD blogs, podcasts, webinars, and articles revolve around two things:
- What are the causes of ADHD
- What tactics and strategies can people employ to work on their executive functions/emotional dysregulation/rejection sensitive dysphoria, etc.
I’m doing it too! A lot of my posts are about ADHD and how you can try to improve your skills.
But I want to make sure you’re also taking time to learn about and use your many strengths. Because you have them, and I don’t want you to spend your entire life only trying to “improve” when you could also be focusing on harmonization.
I like this definition from Wikipedia: “Harmonization is the process of minimizing redundant or conflicting standards which may have evolved independently. The name is an analogy to the process to harmonizing discordant music. The goal is to find commonalities, identify critical requirements that need to be retained, and provide a common standard.”
When I talk about skills harmonization, what I mean is for you line up your pre-existing strengths with your necessary duties; at work, in the home, and with your hobbies.
Why Does it Matter?
There are a lot of reasons that focusing on your strengths can lead to more growth and empowerment, and there are the studies to prove it!
People who focus more on strengths than perceived weaknesses tend to be happier, more confident, feel less stress, and are more satisfied with their work. They may also feel more self-aware in a positive manner, and may be able to better engage with their work because it feels a little less like work when it’s strengths-based.
Focusing solely on weaknesses may make you feel insufficient more often than not, and bring a sense of inadequacy – whereas focusing on strengths can allow you to recognize the worth you bring to your work.
Strengths also take less effort to use. Consider the last time you did something you were good at. How hard was it to do? Were you maybe excited about doing it, or it just felt seamless? Now consider the last time you did something you struggle with. How much mental energy did you expend just to get started?
Science is on the side of strenghs!
But I Don’t Know My Strengths…
Okay, maybe you do, and that’s AWESOME. You can skip this part.
If you don’t have a strengths list, I want you to think of two things you’re good at right now, and I want you to make them specific.
You might want to say “I’m a good communicator”, but that’s quite broad. Add some specificity – “I’m really good at lining up my communication style with others”, or “I’m a great public speaker because I have excellent tone modulation”.
If you really can’t think of anything, ask someone else! Everyone is good at something.
I Have My List!
Great! Now think about whether you get an opportunity to use those things every day. Are they components of your job? Do you use them in relationships? Are they part of a side gig or passion project?
If the answer is yes, that’s fantastic!
When you’re feeling low or down on yourself, use this as a reminder that you are GOOD at something and you get to prove it regularly. Take time to pat yourself on the back if you used your strengths to accomplish something today. Rinse and repeat.
If the answer is no, don’t be discouraged
You’ve already done the work of identifying two things you’re good at. Now, you can build on that list and find ways to better incorporate your strengths into everyday activities.
If you aren’t sure how to incorporate your strengths, talk to a therapist, an ADHD coach, a mentor, or your support group. There’s strength in numbers (HA! see what I did there) and you don’t have to do all your brainstorming solo. You can start with this article from Harvard Business Review. You can also check out my guide to self-introspection, which talks briefly about strengths finder activities.
Remember that in your quest to find strengths, it won’t necessarily help to compare yourself to others, especially if their strengths differ greatly. This is an inward-focused exercise. However, you can look to people you admire that you already believe you may have strengths in common with and see how they are using them.
Go forth and find your strengths (keep a running list somewhere accessible) and know that you can tailor parts of your life toward using them. Stop spending all day fixating on your perceived weaknesses because it’s a sure way to feel bad about yourself. Take more time to think about what you’re already good at and use it!
Come talk to me about your ADHD strengths!