View Full Version : Lack of a growth mindset for achieving goals/improving things


Sally24
07-03-15, 06:27 PM
Hi everyone,
My boyfriend (23) has ADHD and so obviously all planning/consistent effort jobs are a challenge. But what is an even bigger challenge for him and us both in making anything better is the firm belief that he has built up, that he will never and can never learn how to manage this, e.g.: how to:
- motivate himself
- control his choices to make real life changes
- plan to achieve big goals,
because his brain is that way. My own view is that yes, it's a disability so it's never going to go away, but there are all SORTS of ways the effects of the ADHD could be mitigated if my boyfriend actually believed in having a growth mindset (i.e. that planning etc are skills he can learn and practise). We've been together for four years and I feel like I've hardly dented his despair about this. Has anyone been through the same position but come to finding much more effective coping mechanisms later in life?
Sally

someothertime
07-03-15, 09:17 PM
i know what your saying...... and i applaud your passion for his life and outcomes....

due to processing quirbles amongst other things...... in order for us to "channel" such an outlook...... we most likely need to reframe and utilise external frameworks to foster any sort of ongoing and coherently aligned "desire" / "mindset".....

i think actually underneath you'd be surprise how huge most adders growth mindset is....... and an inability to channel this is the food for much of the externalitis learned.

best dealt with multimodal.... angles on single aspects or interests......... and offsetting harmful behaviors a baby step at a time....... in other words...... try not to foster outlook via reason....... but via behaviors that are self satisfying....


peace.

neewsmonth
07-03-15, 11:03 PM
- control his choices to make real life changes
- plan to achieve big goals,


Wow, looks like a tall order for a 23 yo Adder ;)


in other words...... try not to foster outlook via reason....... but via behaviors that are self satisfying....


This is the only reasonable strategy IMHO, we all start from baby steps until one day we realize a big goal is within our reach. Teach him to cook a meal, save money for something small, organize a party, manage your week's calendar, etc. Quick rewards work best.

sarahsweets
07-04-15, 12:37 PM
Adhd is a doing disorder. You KNOW what to do but have issues DOING what you know. It sounds like maybe you have expectations that will be hard for him to meet.

mbrandon
07-04-15, 02:20 PM
Well not sure if this helps or not but he probably feels like he's 16-18. I'm 30 and finally feel mid 20's.

Skyf@ll
07-04-15, 03:41 PM
Well not sure if this helps or not but he probably feels like he's 16-18. I'm 30 and finally feel mid 20's.

I know the feeling lol

acdc01
07-05-15, 10:06 PM
If you're not going to be happy 10 years from now if he's still the way he is, then I'd leave him now. Don't sacrifice your happiness for just a slim chance that you can help someone else (he'll probably either find a way or not without you even if you think you can help him more).

If you decide to stay with him then it's definitely improvement in very baby steps. Not "plan to achieve big goals". Pick one task you think may be the easiest for him to improve on. Maybe just being able to do laundry or something small like that. See if he can get himself to do it and when he does applaud his success. Repeat this until his confidence builds. You may grow resentful of having to do most everything and then having to pat him on the head for every tiny thing he does. Just warning you cause I know others who've become this way cause of their spouse's mental illness. You really can't go into a relationship expecting them to change. That's just not a fair expectation.

Is he on meds by the way? If he isn't, that might cause more drastic improvement though still won't come close to your hopes for him.

acdc01
07-06-15, 05:12 PM
Another way to find happiness with him would not be hope for him to change but change your own expectations.

What are these "big goals" you want him to achieve? Is it to climb up the corporate ladder to make more money?

Sometimes dreams like that don't really bring happiness, just more stress, less time with family, etc. Anyway, I guess I sound like a real downer but the reality is that you really shouldn't stick to a relationship just hoping someone will change. Change is really difficult for anyone and most people change for the worse with age if anything (though ADHDers do more often break this rule).

willow129
07-06-15, 06:00 PM
I soooo agree with everyone's tips about baby steps, and also check/be careful of your own expectations of him.
But the baby steps - I feel like, the fact that almost every response here has included that, should say something helpful to both of you!!

The thing with long term goals is - being chronically understimulated by everything - there really is nothing very stimulating or urgent about a big long term goal for an ADHDer, *I* think. That basically means it's not going to get done. It'll happen if it becomes urgent. Maybe.

But a small very doable goal can be very stimulating and rewarding. If he spends time thinking about what it is that will make him happy in the long run, then break that down into little teeny tiny goals, he might make some progress.

The other thing is - does he have an ADHD support network of sorts? Like friends with ADHD or a counselor, or just people who really understand how he works? I mean, I love my non-ADHD partner, but he does not empathize with my ADHD tendencies. Cuz, it sounds to me like your boyfriend might also be having trouble understanding himself, and simultaneously communicating that to you. With my boyfriend I really have to be a spokesperson for my needs, because he just doesn't think and organize himself the way I do. And, now we're both starting to see my patterns, and he understands that they happen, but not why. I've found the ADDF community here extremely helpful - I'm learning a lot about myself and what works and what doesn't, and how to communicate that, and I feel a lot camaraderie which helps me not descend into despair like your bf. Maybe he should check this place out! :)

Good luck to both of you! I think it's great that you want to help and understand.

acdc01
07-06-15, 07:40 PM
The thing with long term goals is - being chronically understimulated by everything - there really is nothing very stimulating or urgent about a big long term goal for an ADHDer, *I* think. That basically means it's not going to get done. It'll happen if it becomes urgent. Maybe.

But a small very doable goal can be very stimulating and rewarding. If he spends time thinking about what it is that will make him happy in the long run, then break that down into little teeny tiny goals, he might make some progress..


That's a good point and highlights something you should understand. In all my years, "practicing" to improve never works. It's not labeled a disability for nothing. "Learning" doesn't mean to learn how to follow the same steps you would to achieve your goals. What he can learn is how to work around and "avoid" his weaknesses. Like turning the long term goal into a number of small, very doable goals as willow129 suggested. If there are tons of little steps to achieving the big goal, he'll probably need to delegate out some of the steps or have some external support push him on some of the steps. I actually succeed in many "long term" goals by doing this so improvement is possible, but not easy.

dvdnvwls
07-07-15, 12:45 AM
If you want to fix him, you've chosen the wrong man. The right man for you is the one who you would never think of trying to fix. You will hurt him and cause him to resent you if you continue this way. It will not turn out okay. Either love him the way he is, and cover for his weaknesses yourself (letting him cover for your weaknesses at the same time), or choose a new direction.

dvdnvwls
07-07-15, 01:16 AM
Imagine a fish who stubbornly refuses to learn to fly, and the bird who accuses that fish of "not having a growth mindset". :(

The "growth" you claim to desire is actually a cover-up for "I want him to be normal, instead of ADHD". Not happening, sorry. Been there. Got the divorce papers to prove it. :(

The essential point is not that your goals for him are "the wrong ones". If you have goals for someone else, you're already wrong. It doesn't even matter what those goals are.

BellaVita
07-07-15, 02:39 AM
4 years and he has ADHD and nothing has changed?

Unless he hasn't been medicated yet, probably nothing much will change.

We can do all the "believing" in things we want, but that doesn't fix our executive function problems.

Also, I saw you have "motivate himself" listed. That probably won't ever happen, except in short bursts and then quickly fades away again.

BellaVita
07-07-15, 02:41 AM
The essential point is not that your goals for him are "the wrong ones". If you have goals for someone else, you're already wrong. It doesn't even matter what those goals are.

This. :goodpost:

acdc01
07-07-15, 09:08 AM
You seem like a really nice,supportive person Sally24 and I hope we aren't scaring you of all ADHDers in general. I've had stable employment as an engineer for ages, I'm tidy now when I once was not, my social life - well that still isn't the best but your boyfriend doesn't have that problem. So you see, he can improve though you shouldn't bet your life and future on it.

The 3 ways you listed as the path to his success are part of his disability and can't be improved (without meds). He can't take this path but he can take a different one to success. It probably scares him to death when you mention improving on these items.

- motivate himself. -->Change this to apply external (not internal) motivation to your tasks or delegate the parts of the task you hate to someone else. In rare cases, you can make a game of things to generate fake motivation.
- control his choices to make real life changes. -->Change his environment so that he is living/working in a place that allows him to stick to the easiest choices to the extent possible.
- plan to achieve big goals --> Turn Everything into baby steps.

Both of you can benefit by understanding the above. Neither of you really understand how his brain works right now. An ADHD support network like willow129 said is probably a good idea for him and if we haven't scared you off already, probably help you understand him too.

And again, reevaluate what "big goals" it is you want him to achieve and whether he really needs to achieve those goals in order for you to be happy. My guess is the answer is no, he doesn't need to achieve those goals for happiness. But if the answer is yes, then consider a different relationship.

kilted_scotsman
07-07-15, 11:26 AM
You are young, he is young, you've been together for 4 years.

It's very early to be worrying about the motivation to make the right choices to achieve big goals.

I would strongly suspect that much of your boyfriends problem comes from the idea that he "should" achieve big goals in his life......

Where did this idea come from.... and are you unwittingly reinforcing it???

Very few people achieve big..... 99.9% of people don't. Of the 0.1% who do succeed big.... their potential is usually seen in retrospect..... they are often the ones who DON'T seem to knuckle down and make the "right" choices.

My advice..... reassure him that achieving isn't important for you, and may not be the way to happiness for him.

Explore the world..... that way you and he are more likely to stumble into something that DOES motivate you.... and remember that thing might not be the same for both of you....

As someone past 50, the people I respect and look to for guidance now are usually those who didn't make the right choices in their early lives but lived their life. The ones who embraced life, lived in squats, took acid, hung out and relaxed.... they seem to be the ones who were right on the spot when history was being made. They know that "achieving big goals" is more about luck and living life to the full and not about making consciously "right" choices.

Lighten up... and if you want a guy who overtly aims high..... then move on and find one...

If you're perfectly cool about hanging out for a financially insecure decade or two, and and it's just your boyfriend who is beating himself up about these things, then get him along to a good Gestaltist, Transactional Analyst or Cognitive Behavioural Therapist for a couple of years of weekly appointments.

Be aware that in doing this he may well grow.... and in that growing you may grow apart.....

ToneTone
07-10-15, 02:20 PM
Life is really hard even if you are focused on your own goals ... Life becomes nearly impossible if you're focused on fixing someone else. Let me tell you: if you're going to try to parent someone else (and that's what you're sort of doing, you're playing a parent role), you cannot live your own life.

In fact, an over-focus on someone else can be a sign that we don't value ourselves. What a lot of us here want you to do is tell us about YOUR goals, tell us about YOUR dreams. And yes, YOU ... keep him out of this for now. What do YOU want out of life and how are you going about getting it?

There are real limits to how much we can help another person. We can be supportive. I can listen to a friend's problems. I can hug them when they're down. I can say something positive to them when they're in the dumps. But the point of being supportive is that you are simply giving emotional fuel, as it were, to the other person ... so they can do their own thinking and get back on their feet and help themselves!

In other words, we can love someone, but what that person does with that love is out of our control.

You may or may not feel this right now but you cannot fully respect someone you're trying to fix. Impossible. You want to find a partner that you have awe for ... even with their flaws ... You want to partner with someone whose actions in the world inspire you! ... Make YOU better! ... Make YOU stronger! Give YOU hope. And you want a relationship where both of you do that for each other.

We don't mean to be cruel ... But think of it this way. Some of the best "help" I got from past girlfriends (when I did manage to date emotionally healthy people) was when they dumped me. Getting dumped by someone who has their act together is excellent feedback. I of course didn't see this at the time (though maybe I did in the back of my brain) ... but over time, oh yes ... getting dumped by a confident/healthy woman did more to encourage me to get my act into gear than all the fixing efforts of the women who wanted to change me.

Tone

Pentax
07-11-15, 09:55 PM
Again



There are real limits to how much we can help another person. We can be supportive. I can listen to a friend's problems. I can hug them when they're down. I can say something positive to them when they're in the dumps. But the point of being supportive is that you are simply giving emotional fuel, as it were, to the other person ... so they can do their own thinking and get back on their feet and help themselves!

In other words, we can love someone, but what that person does with that love is out of our control

Tone

VeryTired
07-14-15, 11:30 AM
I don't think the concept of "growth mindset" is useful here. But exploring the possibilities regarding medication might be valuable for your boyfriend, if he's ready to do that. My partner got diagnosed with ADHD and started taking medication because I realized he wasn't OK, I researched the issues, and I made an appointment for him with an appropriate doctor. He is extremely glad those things happened, he says his life is enormously better as a result, and the improvements in his life have been extremely valuable for me as well.

I don't think he ever would have gotten the diagnosis if I had not raised the issue with him. I am pretty sure he wouldn't have been able to find the appropriate doctor, make the appointment, and handle the insurance stuff without help from me. One of the cruel things about ADHD can be the way it works to prevent people from getting help they need and want. It's possible your boyfriend's despair is something that would change if he were taking medication, for instance.

I needed to help my partner on his path toward diagnosis because at the time, he couldn't do those things himself. The problem wasn't a lack of growth mindset, the problem was ADHD. He doesn't need my help with doctor's appointments, medication, figuring stuff out about his ADHD anymore--that's one of the ways we can see the treatment working well for him. But he really did need it starting out. Here's the key: I saw patterns and concerns and I gathered information to present him with possibilities--but he made the choice, he decided that he wanted to explore diagnosis and treatment, and having done so, his choices about how to live are what matters. My role was to open some doors he couldn't open himself (at that time) and then get out of the way.

What does your boyfriend need in order to make his own choices about change or growth? Have you asked him? ALso, 23 is not later in life--trust me on this. My partner was in his 50s when he was diagnosed.

dvdnvwls
07-14-15, 12:01 PM
I've had this thread in the back of my mind; VeryTired's great post has just pushed it to the front again. :)

There's a certain culture, or at least an identifiable group within our larger culture, where particular ideas of personal growth are strongly emphasized.

In general, people with ADHD are not equipped to be in that group. There would be at least a small chance for "the growth thing" to work in a relationship between two ADHDers if they were able to resist comparing themselves to their NT friends, but if a young neurotypical woman is constantly examining a young ADHD man for signs of "growth", she will be consistently and permanently disappointed.

ADHD maturity is a strange topic. In some ways, at the age of 10 I was more mature than most adults ever get to be. In other ways, I'll never catch up to an average 30-year-old.

ToneTone
07-17-15, 11:12 PM
Very Tired, your husband is so fortunate to have you. Thanks for sharing that story ... I tend to go too far, I suspect, to the position that it's really hard to help people. Your story is a good corrective, making the point that we CAN help others and help them a lot ... The trick, I am guessing, is to keep expectations at a reasonable level as we help others and to not try to lose ourselves in the process.

Thanks for the story.

VeryTired
07-18-15, 06:09 PM
Thanks, Tone! I really appreciate what you said.

These things are so tricky! There have certainly been times when I thought I should help my partner and was wrong, or when he did need my help but it just didn't go so well, of course. And there are times when I think my partner should be helping me and it doesn't go so well, either. I think that one of the very best things people can potentially do for each other is to provide help with whatever is hard for them, but it's much easier said than done.

We have a lot of success at my house whenever my parter can say very clearly "this is hard for me" or "I need help" because typically I have a lot of skills in areas where ADHD symptoms are likely to cause him difficulties. But we often have awful confusions and conflicts at times when he feels he can't or shouldn't say that he's in trouble, or when I see he needs help, but offer it in a way that isn't comfortable for him.

So I have to agree with you, it's really hard to help people in many situations.

ToneTone
07-19-15, 05:00 PM
Very Tired

Your husband's willingness or ability to say "This is hard for me" and "I need help" is a wonderful thing. I have gotten in trouble "helping" people when I have acted without their request or even their interest. Sounds like your husband does trust you in a good way.

Life is so rich and complicated. I myself AM the type of person who reacts well when people make suggestions/criticisms, even if I hurt like hell when I first hear the suggestion/comment/criticism. Even if the suggestion is outside my frame of reference or understanding, I will make an effort explore the suggestion/criticism if it is made by someone I even half-respect.

My mistakes around trying to help others and losing touch with myself came from assuming other people were as open to feedback as I am. So it took me a long time to accept that ideas for growth that seemed obvious to me could seem utterly bizarre and to someone else ...

I have a nephew (age 37) right now who is really struggling ... He grew up in a household where multiple siblings and his mother had mental illness ... He was neglected as the child in the way that "healthy" children in households can be neglected. He has a bad stutter that leads him to avoid social contact, I am sure. Years ago, I tried to interest him in going to a support group for stutterers and getting treatment for it. He wasn't interested. I took him to a support group for families of people with mental illness. He didn't follow up with it. I took out him to dinner and shared with him that several of his uncles, me included, took antidepressants and that mental illness definitely ran in our family ... with the hope that he would be open to getting evaluated and treated. No interest ... in fact, total rejection and denial on his part.

I'm working with him, but it's hard ... He's nowhere in the ballpark of functioning like your husband. Instead of facing up to his weaknesses, my nephew escapes into fantasy worlds ... He probably has a lower-level of mental illness, not as severe as with his siblings, but still a disability ... His father (my brother) died late last year and my nephew had to find a new place to live and he took absolutely no action. I finally helped him move in with an old friend (maybe his only friend in the world). Anyway, I'm working with him, but the interesting point here is that it is SO CLEAR in his case that I cannot impose things on him. I can only make gentle suggestions and give support ... I'm helping him now claim an insurance policy payout on a policy that we didn't even know my brother had. My nephew had zero idea of his father's finances, or insurance policies, etc ... so all of that kind of work was done by my ADHD other brother (with ample help from his high-functioning non-ADHD wife) and by me.

I have to accept where my nephew is right now in his thinking ... while not losing sight of my objective sense of his situation ... The duality of things: acceptance ... with hope.

Tone

VeryTired
07-19-15, 07:43 PM
Wow, Tone, that's quite a story.

I think it's great that you are so concerned about your nephew and so involved in trying to help him, difficult though it is. It sounds like he is not in a good place right now, and as though he isn't ready or able to accept the excellent help you are offering. Here's hoping this will change over time! He is very fortunate to have you, for sure.

I think you are a remarkable person, also, for your openness to feedback from others--this is very unusual. I have a feeling that this great quality of yours may be part of what gives you the big wisdom you show here at ADDF on a regular basis. "acceptance with hope" really sums up so much, so well. Starting from there, so much is possible!

dvdnvwls
07-19-15, 08:08 PM
When the acceptance is real and absolute, and the hope has no strings attached - that is, there's no hint of expectation lurking behind it - then something has truly been accomplished. Sadly, that accomplishment isn't as common as it needs to be.

amberwillow
07-20-15, 06:34 PM
I've found that sometimes people that you care for need a significant length of time to come to their own conclusions (and by that I don't mean to agree with one's own sumation of what's needed), but to even see there is an issue.

When all is said and done, it's their life. And their time to spend.

Whatever attitude the OP's partner has, it is what it is. Sometimes it's challenging to realise we just cannot change other people... Only ourselves.

InvitroCanibal
08-24-15, 02:47 AM
This may help, my doctor wrote it, and rather than repeat it I'll provide the link. I'd recommend anyone and everyone read it

http://m.additudemag.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.additudemag.com%2Fadhd%2Fart icle%2F10117.html&utm_referrer=#2632