May 7, 2023
What do Richard Branson, Michael Phelps, Jamie Oliver, Agatha Christie, Mozart, Thomas Edison, Leonardo DaVinci, Steven Hawking, Galileo, Isaac Newton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Jim Carrey, Albert Einstein, Emma Watson, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney and Ingvar Kamprad have in common, besides being among the most successful people in their respective fields and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for everyone?
They all are said to have or have had ADHD. Yes, that "disorder" that apparently makes you unfocused and incapable of getting things done or following through with anything. A condition that, according to conventional western medicine, needs fixing and medication so the people suffering from it can become somewhat functioning human beings that fit into the templates of society. But those people apparently chose not to fit in and not to fix, but instead unapologetically be the gift they are and thrive. How did they do that?
I’ve spend most of my life in the constant vicious cycle of shame, guilt, frustration and disconnection from my environment everyone with ADHD knows too well, as I am too on that spectrum.
"You are lazy. You are not disciplined. You are just making it easy for your self. You're not listening. You forget everything. You're a mess. You need to try harder. You're just spoiled. Just try a todo list. It's unfair that you don't have to make an effort to get through." I too have heard these criticisms and “helpful” advices throughout my life, and know the pain and shame it brings up. While they are a somewhat understandable and helpless response to actual behavior, they are neither true in what they say, nor do they help in any way. They rather make it worse by feeding into said vicious cycle of guilt and shame which is the effect of a potent combination of emotional sensitivity, nervous system dysregulation, developmental trauma, overwhelm, and underdeveloped executive functioning in the orbitofrontal cortex. A recipe for disaster - but only if the underlying complex isn't understood and addressed properly.
Last year things changed drastically for me. I got aware enough of my condition and had stacked up enough frustration to become really curious about it. And curiosity in an ADHD brain is a magical cocktail, like infinite supply of rocket fuel in a space-x rocket - nowhere you can't go!
So I started intensely studying the complex and looking for the blind spots of western medicine, science and culture around it, patterns that weren't addressed properly, I was sure I was onto something. I also tried out the current most prescribed medication a few times over the course of a couple months, not with the intention of long term use, but simply to study different attention states and neurochemistry compositions from the inside, to get an imprint of the states I was trying to manifest and nurture naturally by "hacking" behavior, attitude, habit and nutrition.
Next I did what I enjoy most and weaved my obsessions (obsessions are another typical ADHD trait) for systems theory, collective development, deep ecology, evolutionary biology, philosophy, interpersonal neurobiology, mindfulness, non-ordinary states of consciousness, neuroscience, trauma, somatics, polyvagal theory, integral theory, jungian psychology, the science of attention and presence, biohacking, and the new understanding of the role of dopamine and other neurotransmitters in reward, motivation and effort into a big syncretic picture, and then things clicked. I saw a beautiful pattern emerge, a crystal clear picture: Humanity received a huge gift and we haven't even started unwrapping it yet 🤯
Nature adapts ecosystems to environmental challenges through increased biodiversity. Biodiverse ecosystems are more resilient and healthy, better equipped to respond to complexity and to environmental shifts. We understand this for wild natural ecosystems, and thanks to the regeneration movement we are slowly beginning to understand that this is also true for agricultural ecosystems. But this is not just true for nature and agriculture, it's true for any system, including and especially human societies.
Although we made progress in some aspects of diversity, our culture is still madly in love with normativity, the human version of agricultural monoculture. A believe that there is a “normal” or ideal type of person that has standard patterns, abilities and personality expressions, and then there are deviations from it, that are somewhat dysfunctional and need to be fixed, which means converted as much as possible into the "normal", the neurotypical.
This perspective diametrically contradicts the evolutionary intelligence of this living planet, which creates equilibrium, resilience and vitality through diversity and differentiation in every aspect of life. In fact, the monoculture of normativity is the most unstable and fragile condition of an ecosystem or any system really.
Humanity is facing huge environmental challenges and an exponential increase of complexity and adversity. ADHD, or more accurately the underlying genetic and neurological polymorphism that - if not integrated and put into context properly - creates dysfunctions which we call ADHD, is one of many profound adaptive responses to our situation from an intelligent planetary ecology. A counteraction to the human monoculture that has profound potential, purpose and meaning for our collective journey. Culturally we were just not ready yet to understand it and see it as what it is: one of natures countless intelligent ways to create a healthy biodiverse ecosystem that is capable of responding to challenges and create deep adaptation.
We have a distorted understanding of the phenomenon, usually portraying it as a disorder. This perception has led to the numerous misconceptions and regular bad advice, resulting in a collective misjudgment of the true potential and gifts of those with ADHD, and the importance of their role in the evolution of society. Without a proper understanding of what ADHD is and how to make use of the extraordinary vehicle a person with ADHD has received, it indeed creates a lot of pain, confusion and problems in one's life and relationships. But the problem isn’t the complex as such, it’s how we relate to it. The problems and the suffering of ADHD emerge from the demand of society to function exactly the way normativity expects it. This is like trying to deliver heavy cargo with a race car, or trying to win the formula-1 with an excavator.
Of course you can make it work, but you will always look at the race car as not working properly, underperforming, being too sensitive, constantly having issues, and being dysfunctional. But changing it's tires won't do the trick.
This is how ADHD neurokin are made to feel in our culture. Not performing, not contributing, not useful, not meaningful, not having value. Trying to compromise with medication.
"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
(Misattributed to Albert Einstein, true source unknown)
In fact people with ADHD have extraordinary capacities in many areas. They can be very creative, intuitive, comfortable with complexity, quick thinking, often hold unique perspectives, are empathetic, spontaneous, enthusiastic, curious, have a lot of energy, are resilient, and highly adaptive to new situations. All things we urgently need to turn around the ship.
But these powers can only be accessed and utilized properly with the understanding how this neurodiversity works, what it needs and how it experiences the world. There is a reason a race car and a heavy duty truck need completely different trainings and skills to be driven properly. But in our culture the neurodiverse are receiving the one-size-fits all education and are expected to iron out the kinks on their own. That’s not gonna work. We have to create the contexts in which this neurodiversity is meant to thrive and allow it to engage in its natural purpose: creating new perspectives for humanity that lie outside the mainstream mythos, driving social, technological, philosophical and cultural innovation, and reinvigorating our fragile monocultures. We also need the neurotypical to have some curiosity around whats going on for us, to get out of the awkwardness, the frustrations and the misunderstanding. We need an interface to communicate through. A translator. Lot's of things to do, and decided to start working on the issue of training.
This is why I spent months weaving everything I've learned on my own journey and my recent research frenzy together with the transformational work around personal development and trauma awareness I am usually offering into a curriculum for the ADHD neurokin, their environment and everyone open to change their perspective. So we can start appreciating the tremendous gift they are meant to be for the collective, and enable them to lead themselves into a live of creativity, focus, connection, profound relationships, self-leadership and purpose. And so that the people relating with them can begin to understand what kind of interface is needed to thrive together, how to be with each other and deeply recognize each others gifts to the world in the diverse ways we are needed.
In this course we'll dive into the new science of dopamine and motivation, create conducive habits to become hyper-focused, become aware of our attention, get tips for supportive nutrition and supplements, and we learn the crucial aspects of how to use somatic tools and trauma integration approaches to take control, stop the spiral of shame and guilt and turn the curse into a gift by continuing the development of the executive functions in our prefrontal cortex that stopped in our childhood because we didn't receive the specific attention we needed.
I also began to call this human polymorphism that sometimes appears as ADHD by a new name. My current proposal: CHP, “Creative hyper-focus potential”, to also semantically break the disorder narrative and steer my attention to the development of the potential. It is a potential, not an automatic superpower. It's a seed that needs conscious gardening to develop the potential into a gift, instead of letting it grow wild into a curse.
The course comes in two version: an in presence workshop in Berlin that is happening May 12th-14th, and a comprehensive online training with support community over 6 weeks that will begin in July.
You can register for the in-presence workshop in Berlin (happening next weekend) here: https://icd.one/attentionberlin
Or you can register your interest in the 6-week online training that will announced soon here: https://icd.one/attention
And if you don’t belong to the group of people with the ADHD neurodiversity, but you are trying to understand it better because you relate to someone with ADHD (a partner, a family member), or you are just currently struggling with attention, focus and drive, you are welcome to join us too, as long as you come with curiosity, openness and respect and appreciate the focus on neurodiversity of this offering.
Thank you for your ATTENTION 🔥
Lennart is a growth and leadership facilitator. He explores the edges of individual and collective development through the angles of consciousness, embodiment, and deep ecology using an integral framework of the whole, undivided cosmos.
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