How to live a life that doesn’t suck

from Selorm Nelson - click graphic to read

from Selorm Nelson – click graphic to read

Does anybody REALLY live
“a LIFE they LOVE?”

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
A Walking a Mile in Another’s Shoes Post
Part 1 in a Series

I know, it’s a bizarre way to begin

It is an ESPECIALLY bizarre question out of the metaphorical mouth of a coach.

For those of you who aren’t yet aware, “life” coaching is a profession renowned for holding the “Live a life you LOVE banner aloft (above a table marketing miraculous services that will transform your life with the click of a PayPal button).

I’ve used the phrase myself – more than a few times.  It seemed a handy “short-hand” in my attempt to describe the benefits of coaching. But today I’m giving that hyperbole a bit more thought.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been under the weather all week and I’m now in the grouchy phase where I’m feeling sorry for myself – but I think the topic merits some frank discussion, don’t you?

Because I think we’re focusing on the wrong objective, which will continue to lead us astray.

I’m coming to believe it’s a set up, actually — for an expectations mismatch that will make us truly miserable, regardless of what our lives look like at any particular moment.

If it works for you, carry on. I’m all FOR hyperboles that work, but I’m not sure this one does.

I’m wondering if it’s time to move on to something that works better with the way our brains are designed. Do your best to read with an open mind.

How DOES one fashion a life that doesn’t suck?

I believe the expression above is possibly more truthfully the objective of many who look at coaching with temptation – but I doubt they’d click that PayPal button to hire any coaches who tried to market their services with that particular phraseology.

Human beings have EMOTIONS, for heaven sakes.  Our lives are more roller coaster in design than monorail. And you know what?  ALL those ups and downs aren’t exactly lovable.

But attempting to smooth them out isn’t the right focus.

  • I have more than a few shrink buddies who have a few diagnostic labels for individuals who attempt to live every moment of their lives in blissfulness and excitement. Ditto, the preternaturally tranquil.
  • Substances wear off, and even manics have the days they crash.

“Just focus on the happiness” and “Where is your gratitude?” are a couple of expressions that have the opposite effect on most of us with a any sort of a grip on sanity.

It makes me wanna’ smack somebody, for instance — like, for example, the idiot who said that to me in an attempt to context a down moment.

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from Harlan Jacobsen-click graphic for article

Take my life (please?)

Ever since I taught myself HOW to be intentional, I take a great deal of pleasure from crossing things off my consistently gargantuan to-do list.

The most consistent activities I’ve managed to accomplish for the past week were making it from bed-to-bathroom and back again, bed-to-kitchen-to-couch to eat, then couch-to-kitchen with dirty dishes, ONLY to become overwhelmed by that dish-washing task that seemed beyond me in my no-energy state — so back to bed.

Rinse-wash-repeat. Not much to cross of a list!

I had so much to DO this week

And the fact that I didn’t get much of anything done means I’m not prepared for what I’d planned going forward, so I have to shuck and jive.

People are gonna’ be pissed, and no amount of grovelling is going to change the fact that I simply didn’t have the energy to do much of anything for almost seven solid days. NOW I need to shuffle my schedule and drop a few items entirely (unless I want things to domino into endless tomorrows of over-promises NO human could possibly be expected to deliver).

And I was already playing catch-up from taking time off during my recent sabbatical. To make matters worse, I can’t even say for sure that I’ve been SICK, simply “under the weather.” If it weren’t for the chills, I’d simply reach for the allergy meds and chalk it up to a swift slide into depression.

I’ve had ice-water in my veins that no amount of bundling would warm, sneezes and a drippy nose, all appearances of narcolepsy and NO emotional resilience.

from Mollie McWhinney-click graphic to read

from Mollie McWhinney-click graphic to read

When my ceiling fan/light fixture blew, it was a crises of epic proportions. I could barely get it together to move in a lamp. I’m still not ready to handle the problem

I certainly don’t want my landlord in here until I police the place a bit first – and who has the energy for THAT?

Whenever I wandered off to bed without my cellphone, I agonized over whether to get out of bed to go get the darned thing when somebody had the temerity to call, beat myself up when the ringing stopped, then agonized over whether I had the energy to go get the cell to call them BACK — or at least to see who it was.

Pitiful, huh?

Not symptoms of the flu, not really a cold, simply “under the weather” and unable to remain awake for more than a few hours at a time. Close to ZERO activation potential.

I barely had the energy to read and write, especially if it meant remaining upright in front of my computer. The tiniest task took me forever, since my brain was at half-mast. Attempting to push through the brain-fuzz left me exhausted beyond belief. Crawling back to bed, huddling under the covers with a magazine put me to sleep faster than a knock-out punch.

My brain is still encased in cotton, so I’m struggling, even, to make a simple list of what absolutely MUST be handled.  Even the attempt sends me back to bed to sleep things off, and there goes ANOTHER day of my life with nothing much to show for it.

AND, of course, my chronorhythms are now in free-fall.

Do you honestly believe that I am living a life I LOVE in this moment.  Pu-leeze.

Expectations-mismatches MATTER

Black and white sketch of a full moon with a grouchy faceIn an earlier article, Expectations Mismatches & Moon Men, I asserted that frustrated expectations are always difficult to overcome, and went on to explain my theory about the expectations dynamic.

And BOY are my expectations of myself frustrated at this very moment.  That’s the real problem here, more than anything I did or did not accomplish.

  • I underscored, in that article, the importance of understanding yourself and your physical, emotional and cognitive Challenges well enough to be able to predict what others were likely to expect from you overall, compared to what you were likely to be able to deliver on any particular task (or on any particular day). 
  • Even MORE important, I believe, is being able to predict what you will be able to deliver and align your expectations realistically for your own peace of mind!

Beating ourselves up with the expectations-mismatch stick is not conducive to feeling very positive about life – our own or anybody else’s.

  • We need to constantly remind ourselves to take our functional temperature and match expectations to the level of resources on board at the time. 
  • Life – at least where the joys and satisfaction of ongoing accomplishment are concerned – is an endeavor that requires constant juggling for those of here in Alphabet City.
Artist/educator Phillip Martin

Artist/educator Phillip Martin

Prediction is key

The ability to predict the impact of our particular combination of cognitive challenges allows us to realign expectations realistically, so that we can design action plans that are likely to succeed.

Almost more important, through prediction’s crystal ball we will be able to design action plans that produce the kind of results that are more likely to be perceived by anybody else as successful.

(Click HERE or in Related Links below for more on these concepts)

Yet there ARE times in anybody’s life when even ground-of being expectations can’t be realistically predicted – times when the only thing we can predict is that we’ll be barely functional for a bit.

Like when we’re sick, or grieving, or attempting to recover from one of life’s big or little disasters that throw standard predictions for a loop.

  • THOSE are the times when we tend to think that the expression, “Life sucks and then you die” is probably dead on.
  • And THOSE are the times when we are tempted to throw in the towel, feeling that nothing that we do will ever really make a difference.

Well, what did you expect?

That phrase used to be tossed out a lot, usually meaning “You really shouldn’t have been surprised it turned out that way.”

It was most often said in a tone of voice that added a bit of “spin” to the comment (as if it would have been obvious to anyone else and you are a bit of a fool for being surprised).

  • It’s not a bad question, actually, posed sincerely and privately, Self to self.
  • What DID you expect?
  • Where is the mismatch?

Perhaps our desire to appear cool, calm and collected all the time – to ourselves as well as everyone around us – might be doing us more than a bit of a disservice.

Unconsciously, we’re all too aware of the fact that we are off-purpose when life slows to a crawl or throws us an upset. That below-decks realization sets us up for struggle and defensiveness – and THAT sucks!

Bringing the expectations mismatch to consciousness is the first step on the way out of that particular box.

In Part-2 of this Series, I’m going to explain why – how the brain works with this dynamic.

Then I’ll go on to suggest some ways to get it to work the way you want it to work.  So stay tuned.  While you’re waiting, click a few links to take a look at some of the articles that provide background and context for this particular discussion.  (Don’t miss Bumbershoots, Metaphysics, Logic & Coaching, next up, if you’re keen on designing a life that doesn’t suck.)

If you want advanced notification of an upcoming small and low-cost TeleClass Workshop to help you design your No-Suck life, let me know in the comments section.  (If you don’t want to wait, you can also hire me for one-on-one coaching around this topic, tho’ individual attention costs more than group formats.)

How YOU doin’? 

What do YOU do when life doesn’t live up to your expectations?  How do you get back on track when you tank? I’d LOVE to hear some of your strategies and experiences – let’s get a discussion going in the comments section below.

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

7 Responses to How to live a life that doesn’t suck

  1. Hope you feel better soon Madelyn. My philosophy on living a life that doesn’t suck is to be happy with what you’ve got. Simple really!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Stevie. This was an older article, Stevie – life perked up shortly afterwards and today I feel GREAT. The summer heat has finally lifted and I have a brain again!

      I agree with that “happiness” idea, of course, but many of my readers are floundering with various diagnoses that keep them always behind the 8-ball.

      This article (and the Bumbershoots one that follows) was written with empathy for THEM – with the clear memory of when, before my own dx, I truly didn’t know how to stop stepping into holes repeatedly either.

      It’s really difficult to be happy with what you’ve got when you don’t understand what you need to do to keep life moving forward and everybody is mad at you every time you can’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: September is the BEST time for what activity? | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. Erich says:

    Get well soon, MGH- time to recover and refill your fountain, I reckon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aren’t you sweet, Erich! THANK YOU! You truly don’t know how timely this comment is – or how much better I feel because you left it.

      Since this is an older article, I’ve recovered from whatever it was — even though I’m still trying to restabilize my chrono-rhythms after sleeping ’round the clock for almost 3 solid weeks threw me off. Still can’t predict sleep/wake times reliably, which makes it hard to get things done when stores are open, etc.

      I’m also still playing catch-up from three weeks where I did basically nothing BUT sleep, trying NOT to drop out current work objectives, keep up with the blog, handle a few new unrelated glitches AS I attempt to work in a few holiday tasks — without overwhelming myself, shutting down or getting sick again.

      I’m sure you know how it goes – if you are in the hospital for three weeks, folks give you a bit of leeway (even though its rarely enough, actually). If you come home with bandages or casts, reasonable people tend to understand you probably won’t be able to hit the ground running and that you probably won’t catch up with all that didn’t get done during your stay particularly quickly.

      But holy moly – heaven help us when our “bandages” are invisible and we were homebound while we were ill – the unrealistic expectations can be BRUTAL!

      My landlord ripped me a new one, for example, for the TOTAL mess in my living room — primarily because I had JUST gotten boxes from storage and was mid-process changing over my closets and drawers when I got sick (which I still was for that interaction with her). Then there was that little ceiling fan outage I mentioned in the article above where I had to string a few lamps or sit in the dark — cords always do me IN, and low light doesn’t help with activation.

      Didn’t matter to HER — she didn’t want to hear “excuses” — she just wanted those boxes and piles of clothing out of MY apt. as if it were the most important item on ANYBODY’s agenda and as if she was expecting guests in MY space (can you tell I’m still ruminating over what I didn’t say in my fevered state – TOTALLY shut down by her inappropriate & shaming rant?)

      I channeled my energy into the [link==>] “Requests that Get You What you WANT” article that just posted, so my residual defensive anger is a bit more “present” than usual – but I must admit, the echos of her nastiness are making it tougher for me to actually finish the entire project – or to put “clean apt.” anywhere NEAR the top of my to-do list, even in dribs and drabs.

      I can explain what’s going on neurologically, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am still struggling to overcome it.

      So thanks for helping me to feel like SOMEBODY out there cares how things are in my world. Seriously. It helps me back off the slide toward black and white thinking (maybe I’ll even get another box to my van!!)


  4. lisa stallings says:

    Ahhh I think I wish I could send you tea, honey, and lemon- and a shot if you drink- e-mail just is not good enough. Poor Madelyn- you give so much- with I could give it back to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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