Competition Brain

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The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. The posts on this blog represent the opinions and thoughts of those with ADHD, and are in no way, shape or form meant to be used as a way to diagnose anyone with anything. If you believe that you have ADHD we urge you to reach out to our general practitioner for an initial assessment and possibly a referral to a specialist.

How many of you are super competitive? That was a trick question. Of course you’re competitive, you have ADHD. Losing just doesn’t give you the same feeling as that of winning. We know that we’re capable of more, which makes it all the more painful.

Dealing with competition brain can be a struggle for those of us with ADHD. It can be extremely self-defeating to know, or believe, that you should be able to do better. Instead of accepting that the game didn’t go our way, we think, “If I’d just done this, when the other player did that, I might have won!?!?!”. No, you wouldn’t. You can’t tell the future and every decision that we make exists in that single moment of time that we simply can’t go back and change. We can always go back and try again though!

Competition brain is about making everything out to be a competition. You’ve probably seen this in children that are overstimulated, as well as those with ADHD. The reason is simple, when we compete, and especially when we win, we trigger the reason of dopamine. The thought of winning is so incredibly satisfying that once we achieve it, we want so desperately to experience it again. In children, lack of awareness leads to them not only making everything into a competition, but will also build a system of winning into everything. They need to draw the best picture, or running the quickest race. Nothing short of winning is satisfactory anymore.

As adults, we continue to compare ourselves to others which ends up being a zero-sum game leading to further inaction and even depression, “Wow, JimmyJohn is a really successful lawyer now. I could be a great lawyer, too. If only I didn’t have ADHD. Ugh.” Here’s the thing. No one thinks that, but you. JimmyJohn might be a successful lawyer, but he also might have a wife, kids, divorced, alcohol problems, or even ADHD, too! Our fantasies lead to unfair comparisons that simply don’t exist.

So what can you do to alleviate competition brain? Now that we know that this, like everything else in our lives, is just another desire for dopamine. This drive is what makes us amazing at things that require extraordinary risk-taking. It’s also something, that when applied inappropriately, is just another impulse. When this occurs, we need to a) realize it and b) ask yourself this question, “is this situation an appropriate thing to ‘win'”?

Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself with you from last week, last month, last year, etc… We all compete at different levels, which means that we simply can’t compare one another. You only need to be better then the you from a moment ago. The best way to do that is to the best for the you a moment from now. In other words, be in the present and be the best you of right now.

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