ADHD: A Survival Mechanism & Super-Power | Peak Performance | Executive Athlete Training

Embracing the ADHD Superpower: A Survival Mechanism & Advantage

Let's end the stigma. ADHD is NOT a disability but could be an advantage if we create environments for neurodivergent brains to flourish.

I’m sure some of you can relate to this, but growing up, I’ve always felt like my mind operated at warp speed. I zig-zag around people on sidewalks because they walk excruciatingly slow. I had a bad habit of cutting people off because I already know what they would say. I could predict what would happen in movies.

We call this superpower “pattern recognition.”

It’s the glorious (and sometimes maddening) side effect of an ADHD brain wired to be hyper-alert (an evolutionary survival trait, by the way).

Every twitch, every whisper, every detail in our environment screams for our attention, a constant symphony of data points begging to be connected. It’s like living life on fast-forward, perpetually overloaded with “creativity” at light speed.

We don’t just see the world differently; we feel it with an intensity that borders obsession.

When we latch onto something that sparks our interest, it’s not a slow burn—it’s a supernova.

This passionate engagement is the very spark that ignites innovation, fuels the creation of art that moves mountains, and propels us to achieve seemingly impossible feats. We are the ideal machines, the boundless enthusiasts, the human fast-forward buttons in a world that often feels stuck on rewind.

This gift, however, comes with a price tag. Remember when you spent three hours hyperfocusing on an article about 13th-century Mongolian horse breeds while the deadline for your actual work loomed like a storm cloud?

Yeah, that’s the “squirrel!” effect— shiny new thoughts rocket across our mental landscape, hijacking our focus and leaving a trail of unfinished tasks.

Someone once casually mentioned that I reminded him of a squirrel.

Now I know why.

ADHD: A Survival Mechanism & Super-Power | Peak Performance | Executive Athlete Training

My Story

I found this quote online, which deeply resonated:

“The best way I can explain how the world looks to my ADHD brain: I can see the entirety of space and time. The tiniest atom. There are similarities and differences between them, and everything in between. This is my brain. You can see why my groceries get lost.”

Growing up, my brain was basically a cosmic spiderweb. I could see connections between things so random. Everything always just made sense. Picking sides in arguments? Forget it. I understood everyone’s viewpoint…sometimes to a maddening degree.

I was diagnosed at 36 with a brain scan. I have both ADHD and Autism, which conveniently masked each other out! It made me high-functional. The hyper-social tendencies of some with Autism can sometimes mask the inattentiveness of ADHD, while the intense focus of ADHD can downplay the social anxieties of Autism.

A masterclass in neurological camouflage.

Understanding this unique combination explained my unique operating system (that I once thought was flawed) – my intense focus on specific topics (hello, rabbit holes!), a heightened sensitivity to sensory overload, and the ability to see invisible connections to others.

I should have known because the symptoms are SO obvious in my dad (except his ADHD was more erratic and impulsive). I only began to notice when I began my inner work after I lost my health in 2020. When I left my hometown to build a new community— entrepreneurial and innovators, I realized these people were like me.

These people? They spoke my light-speed brain language. Our conversations can be seemingly hilarious, with neurotypicals watching us thinking we were crazy. We were the hypersensitive outliers who “got it” when placed in the right environment. We fought against the grain, questioned all societal norms, and were not afraid to speak our minds yet with deep understanding and empathy.

When neurodivergents collide, we understand each other. Because we understand the universe. We are so hypersensitive that we naturally understand what “neurotypicals” cannot do when we are put in the right environment.

I wish I had been diagnosed when I was younger, but ignorance is bliss. I was lucky not to have anyone imply there was something wrong with me, even though I ALWAYS felt like a black sheep. I live and think unconventionally but never thought much of it.

It’s my normal.

I’m here to tell you:

You’re not broken.

Your brain is simply wired to defy the rigid hamster wheel of modern society.

The one that screams, “Go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, retire at 60, die.”

Hard pass.

ADHD brains are wired to shatter norms.

To ensure our species evolve.

We’re the necessary counterpoint to the neurotypical world. Because guess what? The universe thrives on duality. We need both sides to function.

What is Dualism?

Ever wonder why the universe seems to be a constant dance between opposites? Light and dark, calm and chaos – like a cosmic game of tug-of-war. That’s the essence of dualism. It’s the idea that these opposing forces are woven into the very fabric of society, shaping our ideas of right and wrong, justice and…well, let’s not get sidetracked by laundry woes just yet. It’s a reminder that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There’s a darkness, too, and understanding this duality helps us navigate the crazy complexities of human interaction.

ADHD: A Survival Mechanism & Super-Power | Peak Performance | Executive Athlete Training

Wild Minds, Untamed Ideas: Why ADHD is the Secret Weapon You Didn’t Know You Had

Imagine a world where your racing thoughts aren’t a burden but a superpower, where your boundless energy isn’t disruptive but a wellspring of creativity. This is the reality for many with ADHD, a condition often misunderstood as a limitation.

But what if we flipped the script?

People with ADHD often possess minds that resemble a wild jungle. Ideas grow thick and tangled, connections spark unexpectedly, and the urge to explore every path is overwhelming. This “wildness” isn’t a weakness; it’s a breeding ground for innovation. They can see solutions from unconventional angles, come up with solutions on the fly, and bring an infectious enthusiasm to any project.

But first, let’s define the 3 main traits of ADHD:

  1. Inattention: This can manifest as difficulty focusing, being easily distracted, making careless mistakes, forgetting things often, and struggling to complete tasks that require sustained attention.
  2. Hyperactivity: While this may be more prominent in children, it can also affect adults with ADHD. It can include restlessness, fidgeting, feeling like you’re always “on the go,” and difficulty staying still in situations where it’s expected.
  3. Impulsivity: This can involve blurting things out before you think, acting without considering the consequences, having difficulty waiting your turn, and struggling with impulse control.

ADHD, often framed as a neurological condition associated with deficits, aka a “disability”, needs to be reframed as a set of evolutionary traits crucial for human survival.

3 Traits of ADHD Tied To Survival

Impulsivity, risk-taking, and ingenuity, which encompass creativity and problem-solving, are not just characteristics of ADHD but also fundamental components of adaptive behaviour in challenging environments.

1) Impulsivity

Impulsivity, often a hindrance, can be viewed as the ability to respond swiftly to immediate threats or opportunities. In ancestral times, quick decision-making was essential for survival in unpredictable environments where hesitation could mean danger. This trait allowed individuals with ADHD-like tendencies to react rapidly to changing circumstances, potentially enhancing their chances of survival.

2) Risk-taking

Risk-taking, another hallmark of ADHD, reflects a willingness to explore new territories and pursue novel experiences. While excessive risk-taking can lead to negative outcomes in modern society, in ancestral times, it could have facilitated the discovery of new resources, habitats, or opportunities for social connections. This adventurous spirit might have driven individuals with ADHD traits to push boundaries and adapt to changing environments more effectively.

3) Creativity

Creativity, often synonymous with ingenuity, is a hallmark of ADHD and a vital survival trait. Thinking outside the box and generating innovative solutions to challenges can be crucial for overcoming obstacles and thriving in diverse environments. Individuals with ADHD may excel in finding unconventional solutions to problems, making them valuable contributors to group survival and adaptation.

Moreover, the regulation of focus in ADHD suggests a heightened sensitivity to environmental stimuli, allowing individuals to remain alert to potential threats or opportunities.

While this heightened sensitivity can lead to distractibility in modern contexts, it could have been advantageous for detecting subtle cues and adapting to

However, there’s a balance to be struck:

While these traits can be advantageous, it’s important to acknowledge the challenges they can also present in modern society because they are no longer needed. Sabertooth tigers no longer hunt us and live under constantly changing circumstances in ancestral environments characterised by constant danger and unpredictability.

For example, excessive impulsivity can lead to risky behaviour or difficulty following through on commitments. Similarly, while risk-taking can be positive, assessing potential dangers is important.

ADHD can be reframed as a set of evolutionary traits once adaptive in ancestral environments. While these traits may present challenges in modern society, they reflect a legacy of survival strategies honed over millennia. By understanding and harnessing these traits, individuals with ADHD can leverage their unique strengths to navigate contemporary challenges and contribute positively to society.

Neurochemically-Speaking

Let’s talk about the symphony inside our heads. Unlike your average brain, the ADHD brain throws a bit of a wild party when it comes to dopamine and norepinephrine, two key players in motivation, focus, and that whole “adulting” thing.

Dopamine Dysregulation

Dopamine is involved in motivation, reward processing, and executive functions.

Imagine dopamine as your brain’s reward system, cheering you on to finish a task. In ADHD, this cheerleader might be a little MIA, leading to difficulties with attention and that irresistible urge to, well, chase squirrels (metaphorically speaking, of course).

Norepinephrine Imbalance

Norepinephrine is involved in attention and arousal.

Norepinephrine is another VIP in the focus party, keeping you alert and engaged. But in the ADHD brain, this guest might be a bit too rowdy or quiet, impacting how well you can stay on track.

These neurochemical differences translate to different brain areas, like the prefrontal cortex – your brain’s CEO in charge of planning and decision-making. The interplay between these imbalances and brain structures is what creates the unique set of challenges and strengths we see in ADHD.

It’s not a malfunction; it’s a different way of operating.

ADHD: A Survival Mechanism & Super-Power | Peak Performance | Executive Athlete Training

How To Nurture an ADHD Brain

The Laser Focus Advantage

While focus can be a struggle at times, when an ADHD mind latches onto something it truly cares about, it can achieve laser-like intensity. This hyperfocus allows them to delve deep into complex problems, lose themselves in creative endeavours, and produce exceptional results in bursts of concentrated energy.

The Untamed Spirit

Living with ADHD can be a constant dance between structure and spontaneity. But this inherent need for variety keeps them adaptable, resourceful, and unafraid to challenge the status quo. They bring a fresh perspective to stale problems and a relentless drive to push boundaries.

The key to unlocking ADHD’s potential lies in creating the right environment. Flexible schedules, tools that promote organization, and an understanding of the workplace can make all the difference. When an ADHD mind feels supported, not stifled, it can truly soar.

ADHD Challenges

Let’s be honest; our wild minds can sometimes clash with the “normal” world. Here are some on some of the hurdles we face:

  1. Structured Environments: Structured environments with rigid routines can feel like a prison for our free-flowing brains. Staying focused for long stretches can be a battle, and deadlines are taunting dragons.
  2. Stigma and Misunderstanding: Society often throws shade at ADHD, mistaking our energy for restlessness and our creativity for chaos. It can be frustrating to deal with these misconceptions. This makes it worse and may turn into an actual “disability’ for some when they can’t find support.
  3. Academic and Occupational Demands: Tasks that require organization, time management, and laser focus can be like trying to herd cats. These can impact our performance in school and work, but we bring many other strengths, too! We just need the right environment—one with flexibility.
  4. Medication and Treatment Access: Limited access to appropriate medication, therapy, and support services due to socioeconomic factors or healthcare disparities.

How I Became High-Functional ADHD

Unfortunately, not everybody is lucky because our upbringing, nurturing, and environment determine our outcomes and how much support we have.

Here’s how I luckily became a high-functional ADHD.

If you have ADHD children, colleagues, friends or spouse, this could be useful to you.

1. Have passions.

Growing up, I found it difficult to focus or finish projects I had no interest in, which meant constant feelings of laziness and imposter syndrome and not being enough, which meant I overcompensated and eventually burned myself out.

My brain simply couldn’t focus because everything screamed for my attention. When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor, but the thought of med school overwhelmed me because I must have unconsciously known I had problems focusing.

Yet, I still consider myself successful. Success is subjective, btw.

I discovered dial-up internet, GeoCities Photoshop, and an intriguing world of possibilities—the World Wide Web. What a huge dopamine drip! I went into HYPERFOCUS MODE. Good thing the WWW has no boundaries.

Today, I designed a life I don’t need a vacation from because I stubbornly pursued my passions.

And because I’m into personal development, I unconsciously spent the last few years mastering my focus.

My upbringing was a combination of ignorance, luck, a non-rigid upbringing, and freedom that nurtured my intuition and allowed me to pursue my passions.

When you do what you love, life loves you back.

Due to my impulsive nature, I wasn’t afraid to take risks.

How: Chase your curiosities. Be a student for life. Surround yourself with like-minded people because passion is contagious, and the brain is plastic.

**Unfortunately, my parents and sister probably suffered from my wild ways. I was a brat that always had to have her way. 😆 I never conformed or wanted to follow rules. We can’t turn back time, but I’ve always felt underlying shame. Having a diagnosis explains everything and gives relief.

2. Move.

Exercise and cycling kept me functional, just like my dad. He was a triathlete, and today, retired, he goes on epic trips riding his bike.

Exercise creates BDNF, aka fertilizer for your brain, which aids in neuroplasticity— our brain’s ability to adapt and reorganize in response to experiences and learning.

It helps us develop more efficient neural circuits related to attention, executive functions, and impulse control.

Exercise also shifts the pent-up energy in our bodies. It is the best thing for our ADHD brains!

3. Write.

If you’re feeling hyperactive or impulsive, it simply means you need stimulation.

Take out your journal and write down all your thoughts.

Even if it takes pages. Even if it’s not legible.

The feelings will eventually go away because you’ve essentially sunk the head of your spear into the sabertooth tiger.

By doing this, you’re ENGAGING in the fight-or-flight response.

Dopamine plays a key role in regulating attention, motivation, and reward processing—functions that are often impaired in an ADHD brain.

Writing can act as a natural dopamine booster, helping individuals with ADHD overcome motivational deficits and maintain task engagement.

The Take-Away: Embrace Your ADHD Superpower

People with ADHD possess a unique set of traits that can be both a challenge and a superpower. By understanding how these traits can benefit them, individuals with ADHD can learn to leverage their strengths and navigate the potential drawbacks.

This allows them to thrive in the right environment and contribute their unique talents to the world.

ADHD isn’t a disease; it’s a different way of experiencing the world. It’s a part of who you are, not something that defines you.

Embrace the wildness, channel the focus, and unleash the power of your untamed mind.

ADHD isn’t a secret you need to hide; it’s your secret weapon waiting to be unleashed.

Your Next Step: Ready To Level Up?

Now, many people are unable to see past their limiting beliefs because they don’t have control of their biology. Take back control of your physiology to create confidence and higher emotions, leading to better habits, decisions and outcomes.

See the link there? It all goes back to YOU: mind + body + spirit. We can show you how:

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kate

🌿 HEALTH: peak performance & flow coach, holistic nutritionist, cyclist, athlete. 💸 WEALTH: Serial entrepreneur, agency owner, creative strategist, writer, columnist, designer, web developer, copy-writer, digital marketer, e-commerce consultant. 🔥 INTJ. Libra. Contrarian thinker. Loves to be intellectually stimulated. READ MY STORY →

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