"I wasn't high or anything," he strategically added. Unfortunately, the more he attempted to control the opinions of others, the more turned off to him they became, and the more they talked trash about him! What situations attended this increase in your experience of stress/anxiety? (Who was present? What were you doing?) When I interviewed Daffy I was surprised by some of the ways that he and his ADD were different from me and mine. So I thought it would be a good idea to get yet another view point. I made an appointment to go interview my friend Tom at his house. Once again I became impressed by how unique we each are, with our own special set of ADD problems and our own stories, and yet we have such strong similarities too. If this stressful event occurred again, how would you want to handle it differently, assuming you felt the same way? What situations attended this decrease in your experience of stress/anxiety? (Who was around? What were you doing?) Through self-study, you can become acquainted with your habits, strengths, and weaknesses until you can plainly see, understand, and alter them. If you do not, your inner terrorist will stay right with you for the rest of your days. What could you do to build more of these lower stress moments into your day tomorrow? Anticipate and plan. Keep track of the situations that give you the most stress. Learn to anticipate stress and anxiety-provoking situations, but instead of dreading them, make a plan to handle them better. What resources do you need to gather in anticipation of these stressful events? How would you like to handle them differently? Regardless of the way the situation played out, or how others conducted themselves, what would you have to do to feel proud of the way you handled yourself the next time this stressful situation arises?

What stress reducing action step lowered your stress the most today? Why do you think it was so effective? How will you make time for these stress-reducing action steps tomorrow? How much lower would you expect your stress/anxiety level to be if you committed to making time for stress-reducing activities? (Write down your prediction) 1 2 3 points. When you are able to maintain input and output, you are not overly stressed, and as a result can maintain a degree of balance. Most of us were never taught self-management skills and we tend to ignore ourselves, as if we were machines that will go on running forever. We forget that if we don't attend to our wellbeing, we will become stressed, start acting more compulsively, and reach out for temporary relief in order to cope. We call this temporary relief a mood enhancer. Most people confuse happiness with pleasure gained from outside sources--pleasure triggers such as food, sex, cigarettes, alcohol, and various drugs, both legal and illegal. Other external triggers for pleasure are material wealth, power over others, and for some, fame. And now it is increasingly common to seek pleasure through distraction dispensed right in the palm of your hand, no matter where you are in the world. Notice that in all of the examples, the causes for pleasure come from external circumstances, and in the case of electronic media, from the illusion of experiencing a parallel reality. Tom's story further illustrates the difficulties that ADD can cause in our lives, especially educationally and occupationally. Tom particularly has difficulty with finishing things. He also struggles with using strategies. This shows that they're not always easy to use and certainly not the magic answer, and how our ADD, and maybe our personalities, can make it difficult for us to do the things that would help us. It also shows that the strategies are not one-size-fitsall; we each have to find the ones that will work for us and apply them in our own way. This undergraduate music major and classical guitarist experienced strong anxiety whenever he played before large audiences, such as at university recitals, so he was willing to perform only relatively easy-to-execute compositions. Yet in the solitude of his apartment, with no one watching, he was astonishing at executing even the most difficult passages of Villa-Lobos, whose compositions challenged even the most accomplished classical guitarists.

Unfortunately, this talented soul was more intent on controlling the response from his audience than on performing; consequently, despite his selection of relatively easy compositions, his public performances were not nearly as adept as when he played in solitude. I understand that it might be a little tedious to do this exercise several times a day for several weeks, but I promise your commitment will be rewarded. If you do both of these exercises consistently, you will start to see a spontaneous blueprint emerge for increasing your peace in a natural and holistic way that both fits your life and makes a real difference in your outlook and emotional well-being. To get the most out of this exercise, please keep the following tips in mind. I like to call these coping mechanisms "mood enhancers." A mood enhancer is something that instantly changes your mood, demeanor, and outlook. Here are some of the mood adjuster that my clients have used: taking a walk, painting, screaming in to a pillow, chewing gum, and jumping up and down, jumping into a pool (when available). These temporary mood enhancers act as Band-Aids to cover the immediate problem for the moment but they never really address the underlying issue at the core level. Trish is a prime example of someone who has enjoyed little mood enhancers (ME) as a way to cope with a busy and stressful life. Some of her "ME's" are: cookies, donuts, ice cream, candy bars, dates, and high fructose protein shakes. You probably notice that all of these have some sweetness associated with them. I call them mood enhancers. These tasty treats can mysteriously turn into bludgeons that are used against yourself. Unless you have given yourself 100% permission to indulge in the mood enhancer, the momentary high can become a self-punishment, reinforcing the XXXXXXXXXXX syndrome. The mood enhancer gives you license to take yourself to task, they erode your self-trust, and they reinforce the incapable side of you, or the "I can't" syndrome. So many of the actions we take are intended to distract us from negative circumstances rather than changing them. Here is an example of a man, I'll call him Alex, who is fundamentally unhappy yet has never studied himself to discover the reasons why he is unhappy. As I drove into Barry's driveway I saw him walking back into the house from his garage. I rang the front door bell, and in a while he welcomed me inside. He explained that he'd been on his way to my house for the interview, but he'd forgotten something and had gone back inside for it. (You may recall that the appointment was for his house.) He said that he thought he'd seen a car in his driveway; I guess it didn't register though because he hadn't checked to see who it was.

If he hadn't been late we might have passed each other on the road as he made his way to my house. Did I mention that Barry has ADD? We walked into his dining room. The table was covered with papers and folders, as was the floor on one end. Barry cleared off a space on the table for us. I joked that I wanted to take a photo of this to use as an illustration in the book. Barry explained that he'd been organizing and cleaning out some files. "For quite some time now," he added. "I must be in control. Otherwise, bad things will happen." Married, with one twelve-year-old child, this woman always had to be on top of things, for fear her family members might not succeed. She enforced a rigorous schedule for her child, dictating when he had to do his homework and when he could hang out with his friends. She hovered over him like a helicopter to make sure that his homework was done "perfectly," and she was well known among her child's school faculty for attempting to control the quality of instruction her child received. She also micromanaged her husband; the poor man received his marching orders daily. "Don't forget to pay the electric bill today!" "Go to the grocery store after work and pick up a few groceries." "You need to remove that dead tree on Saturday." "You need to make a dentist's appointment this week to get that chipped tooth capped." The demands and commands kept coming in a steady stream. Although she meant well, the stress she created for all concerned overbalanced any positive value she might have provided. Don't escape. Engage! Too often we think decreasing our stress requires an escape. We can't wait to give the kids to our spouse and get some "me time." We can't wait to leave work. We can't wait to escape.

It's fine to want a break, but not to live for your next break. Why? Because breaks don't come often enough, and the escape never lasts. What can you do instead? Ask yourself, "How can I stop phoning in my time with these people or this situation? How can I more creatively engage this situation? How can I more meaningfully connect with these people? How can I approach this in a way that doesn't burn me out, but rather gives me energy and joy?" Anxious people tend to increase their anxiety by living for breaks and wishing their everyday life away. Then, when stressful people and situations are gone (the kids grow up, the job is lost), they bemoan the loss of that time. Everyone needs to escape once in a while (Scripture tells us even Jesus got away now and then), but we actually increase our anxiety by white-knuckling through our lives in nervous anticipation of the next break. Instead, look for ways to bring more of yourself to your experiences and relationships, not in a way that burns you out, but in a way that gives life. If you cannot figure out how to do this, you may need to seek professional assistance to help you lean into your life -- or create a more meaningful life. Tall and lean, with straight brown hair cascading down her back, Trish's wide-set brown eyes focused intently in everyone she met. She reflected on the past and the onset of her compulsive behavior. Her theater background, plus cramming for exams, got her into the habit of reaching for fixes to get through each momentary crunch. After all, it was just for the moment at hand, or so she believed. As she sat in the captain's chair by the window, twenty years after college, she leaned forward and confided in me that she was an addict. "I have become addicted to Reese's peanut butter cups," she said embarrassed. Alex, thirty years old, hates his day job and is bored with his life, so at meals he chooses foods that will cause his body to trigger a large amount of dopamine by ingesting excessive amounts of fats, sugar, and salt (fast food), smoking cigarettes, imbibing alcohol, etc. This makes him feel better for a little while, but over time he becomes addicted to the fats, sugar, salt, cigarettes, and alcohol and so increases the dosage or frequency of the dosage.