Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pause, Reflect, and Refocus

 by Kirsten Milliken, PhD

A friend recently pointed out to me that I was frustrated “a lot.” I stopped (because I have learned to pause) and thought about it. I very quickly knew he was right.

I had been complaining a lot about everything in my life. I was frustrated with my kids, annoyed with people at work, impatient, and disappointed frequently. And I was not being quiet about this. Everyone knew that I was frustrated. Only this man had the guts to point it out.

One of the casualties of my frustration was that I was not enjoying myself and playing as much. Everything was more serious. Things had to be on time. I did not have time to “waste.” Everything became a mission. Plans needed to be made and kept. I wanted to know “what next?” I was becoming more rigid and tense and unhappy. They say the opposite of play is depression—I was certainly moving in this direction.

Some days after my frustration was pointed out to me I realized that I had moved away from my acceptance and enjoyment of how things were in my life and moved into focusing on hopes and expectations. My friend had only recently said to me, “Hopes and expectations only lead to disappointment.” (And frustration). Such wisdom.

This line of thinking made me reflect on a conversation I had with Dr. Mark Bertin at the CHADD conference last year. He talks to his ADHD clients about the importance of mindfulness—the practice of being in the moment and fully appreciating it. As we talked we drew the parallel between the idea of being in the moment when we are truly playful and being mindful. Acceptance and enjoyment are mindful and are more conducive to play.

So if you find yourself feeling frustrated, disappointed, impatient, or annoyed, take a moment to check if you are focused on your expectations and refocus on being mindful and present in the current moment. Be playful with what and who you have in front of you. I know I am working on doing this more so that life will be happier again.

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Kirsten Milliken, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, a certified ADHD coach, and the founder of PlayDHD. She lives in Portland, Maine, with her two amazing children and two really freaky dogs. Dr. Milliken is passionate about helping those with ADHD communicate about the ways that ADHD affects them and coaches them to develop skill sets that build on their strengths in order to manage the day-to-day challenges of ADHD. She created PLAYDHD to create a specific awareness of the connection between ADHD and the value of play. Her website, playdhd.com, is dedicated to the art of using play in managing symptoms of ADHD, achieving goals, and enjoying life. She is an active member in the ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO), CHADD, Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), International Coaches Federation (ICF), and a graduate of the ADD Coaches Academy (ADDCA). She regularly presents at ADHD conferences on the subject of play. She also hosts the PlayDHD podcast, is a frequent guest and former co-host on Attention Talk Radio, and contributes to various other websites serving the ADHD community.

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