20 Something ADHD Expert’s Tip of the Month – June

Focus on What’s in Your Boat
By Barbara McRae, MCC

Is it fair to say that those without ADHD challenges often have a tough time “getting” you? Perhaps, well-meaning family members, friends, and educators expect you to behave differently. Maybe they even give you unsolicited advice. What’s your strategy for not allowing yourself to be bothered by people who believe that, “If I just keep pointing out what I want, I can get the person to change.”

Let’s start with examining what you can actually control. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that there are some things that are within our control and some that aren’t. Have you ever asked yourself what you can actually control? If you have, you know that, depending on your level of self-awareness, you can control …

… What you focus on
… What you think, value, say, and do
… What interpretations you give to the events in your life.

Mostly, we control what happens internally (within ourselves, not externally). Consequently, we cannot control the weather or other people’s behaviors and opinions. And that’s a good thing! Why? Consider this, the opposite is also true. They can’t determine how you think and behave, either.

My mentor, the late Thomas Leonard, said it well: “We want to control others when we’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t. We influence others by being a model for others, not by forcing them to do things our way, or to force them to look at things our way.”

When you realize you do have influence and impact on others, you can use it more effectively. You’ll start ‘pulling your own strings’ instead of allowing yourself to succumb to knee-jerk reactions and to suffer needlessly, whenever you get triggered. Connecting with your personal power allows you to change yourself for the better and increase your influence.

In Michael Neill’s book: Feel Happy Now! he shares this story. “While interviewing Olympic rowers at the 1996 Olympics, sports broadcaster Charlie Jones spoke with a number of competing athletes. Any time he asked them a question about something which was outside their control (like the weather, the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents or what might go wrong during a race), the Olympians would respond with the phrase:


By refusing to focus on anything beyond their control, these athletic champions were able to bring all their resources to bear on what was within their control–everything from their physiology, mental maps and story to the actions that they took preparing for and competing in the actual event.”

I think you’ll find, as I did, that staying focused on what’s “in my boat” helps you to avoid unnecessary stressful and energy draining experiences.

You can begin benefiting right away by engaging in a week-long control vs. influence challenge. Make it a point to only focus on what is within your locus of control. If you find yourself in someone else’s boat (comparing yourself to others or trying to change others), do what author Michael Neill recommends: “Just climb back in and carry on down the river.”

Wishing you savvy success!

~ Barbara McRae, MCC
20-Somethings ADHD Expert, Campus Calm™
(c) Barbara McRae

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