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Fatherhood & Stoicism: Using Stoic Teachings to Treat ADHD
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In today’s fast-paced and hyperactive world, ADHD can feel like an insurmountable challenge, as you’re too distracted to stick to any treatment, and there’s so much to be done that you never have time to sit down and work on yourself.
I’ve had to navigate this in my life, handling the constant stream of distractions from every area of business/family/work, the difficulties in focusing, and the never-ending internal restlessness that can leave one desperate for a sense of inner peace.
While medication and therapy play essential roles for many in managing their ADHD, I’ve never gone that route.
I believe exploring the ancient philosophical teachings of Stoicism can provide a valuable complementary or replacement approach to ADHD management. In this article, I want to shed light on how I’ve found that embracing Stoicism can empower those with ADHD to navigate their minds and find serenity amidst the chaos.
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Understanding ADHD Through a Stoic Lens
Stoicism encourages all to focus on the aspects of life that lie within our control and develop resilience in the face of adversity.
Similarly, ADHD presents an opportunity for you to view the way your mind has adapted to its environment through a Stoic lens. By recognizing that ADHD is a natural part of oneself, individuals can shift their focus away from self-blame and embrace ADHD as a unique characteristic that contributes to their authentic identity.
Instead of berating yourself for forgetting tasks or struggling to concentrate during meetings, try to apply Stoic principles. Reframe your ADHD as a challenge that can push you to work smarter and develop strategies to excel in your career. Utilizing Stoicism’s approach to acceptance, you can acknowledge that ADHD does not define your worth but shapes you as a person with innate strengths and unique perspectives. This newfound perspective will you to face challenges head-on without succumbing to self-doubt and frustration.
Cultivating Mindfulness and Anchoring to the Present Moment
One of the core tenets of Stoicism is cultivating mindfulness and anchoring oneself to the present moment. For individuals with ADHD, the constant stream of thoughts and external stimuli can make mindfulness seem elusive. However, Stoic practices can act as an anchor, providing stability and enabling individuals to embrace the present despite the whirlwind in their minds.
There are many kids out there who are diagnosed with ADHD, and are grappling with racing thoughts and academic pressure. If they were to be inspired by Stoic teachings, they could integrate mindfulness exercises into their daily routine. By practicing simple techniques like deep breathing, observing their thoughts without judgment, and redirecting their attention when necessary, these kids would develop a powerful toolset to regain focus and find peace amidst the chaos of college life. If you are the parent of a child with ADHD, you must be the voice of teaching to help your son or daughter learn and apply these practices.
It’s far better to develop a mind that can handle stress than a body that needs medication to handle it.
Adapting to Life's Challenges
Stoicism places great emphasis on developing resilience in the face of adversity. For individuals with ADHD, this philosophy can serve as a powerful catalyst for personal growth. By embracing the Stoic notion of accepting what lies outside our control and instead focusing on our responses, people with ADHD can cultivate an unwavering spirit and adapt to life's challenges with grace.
Through the lens of Stoic resilience, parents can reframe their setbacks as parents and turn them into valuable learning experiences. Recognizing that there will be good days and bad days, you can harness that inner energy & strength, accepting the unpredictability of ADHD while committing to necessary routines and strategies to support the family. Stoicism teaches you to embrace life's uncertainties, fostering adaptability, and allowing one to carry on with a sense of purpose and tranquility.
I give myself grace when I make a mistake as a father; it’s only fair I treat myself with as much compassion as I do others, which may be alien to those who view themselves as having to be “perfect” while others are free to get a break or a second chance.
While ADHD may present its share of obstacles, Stoicism offers a transformative path for individuals seeking balance, resilience, and serenity in their lives. By shifting our perspectives, cultivating mindfulness, and embracing resilience, those with ADHD can harness the deep wisdom of Stoic philosophy to alleviate suffering and unlock their true potential amidst the chaos.
Normally, I offer actionable advice throughout the articles I share, but here that isn’t so much the case because you need to read and learn about the philosophy so you know how to apply it. I recommend Epictetus, Seneca, and Aurelius in that order. If you’d like Podcast, Email, Book Recommendations ask in the comments below.
- Zachary Small