What do we need on all levels of life today more than peace? I don’t need to list the many places on earth where peace is needed – peace from war and other calamities, peace from pandemics and environmental destruction, peace from fear. Sometimes it can seem that everything is out of control.
Many of us with ADHD have a tendency to be anxious and highly sensitive. We can be sensitive not only to issues within ourselves, our families, and our communities, but also to global issues. Our need to feel safe, secure, and less anxious often leads us to try to control everything we can in hopes of regaining our sense of well-being.
We might try to control our spouses, our children, even people outside our family. We might feel less free to be creative at work for fear of criticism. We might avoid unpredictable situations, cutting ourselves off from opportunities to experience more of life. Our self-talk may rob us of peace by repeating negative statements that raise our level of fear and need to control. We close ourselves off from life. We may feel helpless as we find ourselves in a downward spiral of negativity that feels hopeless.
But there is hope, and there are tools that we can learn and use that will move us into a more peaceful state of mind and then allow us to make positive contributions rather than adding to the negative clamor.
With practice, and thanks to the ability of our brains to form new connections, we can learn to notice the start of each downward spiral of anxiety and fear. We can pull out our handy toolkit and calm our fears while at the same time empowering ourselves to act in whatever is our best way to make the world a better place.
There is nothing magical or miraculous needed, so you won’t find potions or wands or magic words in your toolkit. The first tool you will find is as close to you as breathing, because it actually is your breathing. You are never without it. It is always available to you.
Just notice your breathing. When we are anxious, our breath is usually more rapid and more shallow. Many of us need practice becoming aware of our bodies. Breathing is a good place to start. Just count your breaths. How many breaths per second? What part of your body is moving as you breathe in and out? Can you deepen your breath so the movement is not just in your chest but moves down into your belly? When you do that, you are most likely slowing your breathing.
Anxiety produces the fight or flight response which sends blood to your big muscles and away from your brain to help you escape danger (as if a sabertoothed tiger were chasing you). In today’s world you don’t need those large muscles when you feel anxious. You need to bring your thinking brain back online to allow you to think more calmly and rationally. Breathing more slowly and deeply can have that effect. As your breath becomes slower and deeper, your brain gets more oxygen and your blood circulates more easily.
While you are slowing and deepening your breath, you might remind yourself of a positive truth that is uplifting to you and that reminds you that you are safe. Another thing we know from brain science is that what we focus on grows. As we think more positively, we see more in our experience that leads us to think even more positively. Instead of a downward spiral, we find we have shifted ourselves into an upward spiral.
Just like any new habit you try to put in place, the habit of thinking positively can require a strong intention and dedication to making the change. Maybe you can find a positivity buddy to travel with you on the path to peace and less anxiety. Soon you will begin to see ways in which you can contribute in your unique way to making our world a more peaceful place. What could be more meaningful than that?