This month I had the pleasure of interviewing Bryan Hutchinson, who is an inspirational writer and author of several books about life with ADHD, including the bestselling and well regarded memoir “One Boy’s Struggle“. He’s also the author of the blog ADDer World and the founder of the ADDer World ADHD social network. Lately, Bryan has taken his positive thinking concepts a step further and started a new blog, Positive Writer, for all types of creative people.
As many of you may know, my passion is understanding the process by which people change, shift and evolve. As often said in the world of Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP, “What’s the difference that makes the difference?” To this effort, I dedicate the following interview.
Q: Can you identify one person, place or event that most influenced you in making a major change or shift forward in your life? If so, what or who would that have been, and why?
“I can thank billiards for the positive shift in my life. I wanted to get better, but I was constantly getting in my own way. I was often too distracted to stay focused during longer matches and my mind would wonder while my opponents were at the table, which also took away valuable concentration. Put simply, I could not maintain my focus.
Billiards made me “want” to get better, to find answers and improve. As they say, when you play a game such as billiards, it often mimics real life. I share the story in my book “One Boy’s Struggle”, but here’s the short version:
I came to a point in my billiard career that I wanted to stop and give up (as I had done with so many other things). I was not improving, and actually, I was getting worse. Thankfully, there was someone who cared about me, who took me under his wing and became my mentor.
He started off by giving me a very important book which I still have to this day. It is titled “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale. The book was life changing for me, but it was also a not so indirect message. I was too angry, too resentful and too negative overall and unfortunately this is all too common with people who have ADHD. Negativity blinds us from our own potential within and worse it repels anyone who would otherwise help us or just be our friends.
My mentor needed me to open up and discover something about myself that I could change, something that was within my control. We all have choices to make, whether we have ADHD or not and I was given a choice: Change my perspective or stay the same, or worse, continue to regress. Most people balk at this choice or continue to blame their ADHD for their attitude and I was fortunate not to know I had ADHD yet and didn’t have anything to blame, but myself. The book helped me stop blaming myself and start seeing life as something positive and meaningful, and likewise I started treating myself and others in that manner. It wasn’t an overnight process, but each day I saw small positive steps and that kept me moving forward and brought me to where I am today.”
Q: Can you tell me how you made that shift? What were the actions that you performed that allowed that to happen for you. What was different about them?
“It was a difficult process at first, because ADHD is a neurobiological disorder as you well know and changing one’s attitude as an adult was only the first step. Improving my attitude opened me up to possibilities. Previously my negative attitude had blinded me. I used to mock people who thought positively, because I thought it was foolish and delusional. I wasn’t brave enough to tell them to their faces, I was a shy person after all the punishment I had been through, but I thought the thoughts that held me back, perhaps more than ADHD ever has.
It makes me very sad when I see people in this condition and having been there I know that they may never find their way out if they keep looking in the wrong place and that’s one major reason I published my memoir and started ADDer World. Oddly enough, the people who are caught in the world I lived in now mock me and call me delusional, but it’s okay because I’ve been there and done that. It is the surest sign that ADHD isn’t their main problem and if they so choose, they can improve, too.”
Q: If there was any one piece of advice that you could have given to that “younger you” growing up, what do you think that would have been?
“Well, without diagnosis any piece of advice I would give my younger me, such as in grade school where all my real problems began, would not be that helpful. When I was playing billiards and shifted my attitude I was already an adult.
What I would rather do here is let parents know that ADHD is not something to blame and a child is in no control or fault for having ADHD and you are not a bad parent. What the child really needs is professional help and support. ADHD is not only damaging academically, if undiagnosed, it is also detrimental to one’s self-esteem. Later in life ADHD may be accepted by many, especially today, but a negative attitude is not and never will be. Support your child, get the help he or she needs. Diagnosis isn’t a bad thing, it’s the best thing that can happen for a child who has ADHD, because that opens doors to understanding and treatment that can help. Inspire and encourage your children and that will motivate them. Punish and chastise your children and that will demotivate them and that goes for any child with or without ADHD.”
Q: As an adult, what skills have you learned that you rely on most when you feel “stuck” to move you forward now?
“ADHD is never easy, no matter how good at maintaining I get, it is always work. However, what helps me the most is that I do my best to try and find something interesting in everything I do. The ADHD mind works best when it has incentive and knows there will be a reward for any effort and that’s why I make it a personal choice to find something interesting in everything I do. It is possible to trick the mind into being excited about something, even if you normally are not. That’s what I have found to help me the most. I do not take medication for my ADHD, but that’s not because I don’t believe in it. I do not take medication because I cannot tolerate it, or I would have. In one way that’s okay because it has made me develop the mindset that everything I do is worthwhile.”
Bryan, thanks for your time and great insights!
Leslie is an ADHD Coach and holistic therapist working in South Florida. If you want more help with ADHD, sign up for my free newsletter on my website and get your free tips to Overcoming Procrastination and Achieving Your Goals at: www.addadults.net