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How You Became a Gifted Underachiever & What You Can Do About It - 098

podcast Mar 26, 2022

When I refer to “gifted” adults, I am not talking about I.Q.  I am talking about something more important, which is gifted temperament.  Additionally, a lot of the challenges you experience could be due to being a gifted adult, since there are many similar challenges with ADHD as with giftedness.

According to Reis and McCoach (2000), gifted underachievers typically have low self-esteem, low self-concept, and low self-efficacy, which refers to your belief in your capacity to implement behaviors necessary to produce specific performance outcomes.  Put another way, it’s your belief in your ability vs. your actual ability.  And, whatever you believe is true about you, is true, whether or not it really is.  Can you relate?

I’ve worked with thousands of adults over the past 30+ years and most of them are “Gifted Underachievers.”  Many are professionals, working in various industries, such as law, medicine, research, project management, entertainment, creative arts, social sciences, education, biological sciences, business, history and more.  And, when you are a “Gifted Underachiever” the gap is much bigger because your performance is way below your potential.

If you’re tired of psychological labels, and just want to get to the core of what’s going on and resolve it, keep listening. 

In this episode Dr B talks about:

  • How we become a Gifted Underachiever
  • Some of the challenges of being a Gifted Underachiever
  • Some examples of maladaptive strategies of Gifted Underachievers
  • Similarities between adults with ADHD and Giftedness
  • Learn about 13 Signs Weak Executive Functioning Is Holding You Back
  • Find out what you can do about your weak executive function skills even without a diagnosis

Developing your Executive Function Skills and shifting your limiting beliefs is the fastest and most effective way to overcome ADHD limitations, find focus, gain confidence, and newfound freedom in your life!

My mission is to put an end to the worldwide needless suffering of adults with ADHD and those with under-developed Executive Function Skills - whether from ADHD, chronic depression or anxiety, trauma, addictions, or chronic illnesses.  And, you don't need a formal diagnosis to know you need help developing these executive function skills in order to greatly reduce your suffering.

 

Full Episode Transcript How You Became a Gifted Underachiever & What You Can Do About It - 098

When I refer to “gifted” adults, I am not talking about I.Q. I am talking about something more important, which is gifted temperament. Additionally, a lot of the challenges you experience could be due to being a gifted adult, since there are many similar challenges with ADHD as with giftedness.

According to Reis and McCoach (2000), gifted underachievers typically have low self-esteem, low self-concept, and low self-efficacy, which refers to your belief in your capacity to implement behaviors necessary to produce specific performance outcomes. Put another way, it's your belief in your ability vs. your actual ability. And, whatever you believe is true about you, is true, whether or not it really is.

Can you relate?

I've worked with thousands of adults over the past 30+ years and most of them are “Gifted Underachievers.” Many are professionals, working in various industries, such as law, medicine, research, project management, entertainment, creative arts, social sciences, education, biological sciences, business, history and more. And, when you are a “Gifted Underachiever” the gap is much bigger because your performance is way below your potential.

If you're tired of psychological labels, and just want to get to the core of what's going on and resolve it, keep listening.

What contributed to you becoming a Gifted Underachiever? Here are some possibilities:

• How you have processed your traumas
• Your emotional distress in general
• Being indoctrinated with lots of limiting beliefs
• Having those who mirrored back to you being biased vs. neutral
• How you respond to perceived boredom which could be lack of needed stimulation
• Ongoing absence of challenging engagement with life
• Undiagnosed conditions such as ADHD or underdeveloped EF skills
• Codependency or other addictions in the home you grew up in

What are some of your challenges as a Gifted Underachiever? Here's some possibilities:

• Hiding your giftedness because of the discrepancy between your ability and visible achievements
• Trapped in learning systems that don't meet your needs for experiential learning
• Anxious, depressed, impulsive, inattentive, hyperactive or distractible
• Only motivated to excel in what interests you and nothing else because you don't know how to generate interest and motivation from within yet
• Frustration when things aren't easy for you since you never learned that many things take time, effort and energy to achieve and require patience
• Became risk-aversive and don't learn from failures because you take them personally
• Made your life smaller to avoid failures or risks; also, to avoid your fear of success
• Immature, dependent, and lacking the resilience needed for greater achievements
• Imposter syndrome and self-doubt due to the gap between ability and visible achievements; fear of exposure
• Shame fuels your obsessing and overthinking; in extremes it becomes perfectionism • Frustrated, angry, passive-aggressive, resentful, touchy and even criticized for your out-of-the-box thinking and ideas
• Attributing your successes or failures to outside forces; exhibit an external locus of control, attribute your successes to luck and your failures to a lack of ability
• Self-critical or perfectionistic; feeling guilty about not living up to the expectations of Others

Some examples of maladaptive strategies of Gifted Underachievers:

• You lack goal-directed behavior; you fail to set realistic goals for yourself o How could you without well-developed EF skills such as planning, scheduling, prioritizing, foresight, emotional control and more?
• You have poor coping skills; you've developed coping mechanisms that successfully reduce stress in the short-term, but inhibit long-term success.
o How could you without well-developed EF skills such as emotional control, self-monitoring, inhibiting, initiating and more?
• You possess poor self-regulation strategies; you have a low tolerance for frustration, lack perseverance and follow through, and lack some maturity.
o How could you without well-developed EF skills such as emotional control, metacognition, shifting, inhibiting and more?
• You use defense mechanisms instead of productive strategies
o How could you without most all of the well-developed EF skills you need to not have to be defensive to survive or thrive?

So, what's the solution? To me, it's simple. Take the journey of transformational healing and move from being the Gifted Underachiever to the Empowered Achiever. You were born to be the Empowered Achiever and along the way awareness of this fact got lost amongst the chaos and traumas of your life. The journey is becoming aware of who you have been, who you truly are, and closing the gap forever.

There's been very little focus on the social, emotional and overall needs of gifted adults. Here are five traits you may resonate with as a gifted adult:

• Divergency - problems arise when a group consensus is important or needed and you have a different point of view
• Excitability - difficult for others who find our level of energy to be too much to spend time with us unless they have similar energy
• Sensitivity — you think with your feelings and take things personally when they aren't personal
• Perceptivity — you are able to view several aspects of a situation simultaneously and quickly see to the core of a situation
• Entelechy — you bring deep feelings to your relationships with people and life; it can produce potential interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts

Unless you as a gifted adult learn to value yourself and find support and acceptance - identity conflicts and depression may result and cause needless suffering for you. The path to your personal power is through knowing and accepting yourself and self-growth. And, you need a safe space in which this can happen for you.

Many articles about us indicate that those who are the happiest are the ones with the best coping skills, which is dependent on early life experience. For those of us who didn't develop our best coping skills earlier in life, we can develop them now and go on to live our best life ever — perhaps better than what it would have been had we developed these skills earlier in life.

Here are some behaviors associated with ADHD and those with giftedness:

Impulsivity; poor delay of gratification Impulsive, eager, spirited
— interrupts or intrudes on others

Curiosity Oppositional defiant
Always “on the go“ as if driven by a motor; restlessness

Emotional sensitivity Is easily distracted

Perfection for approval
Poorly sustained attention on tasks or activities except when high interest Boredom
Daydreaming
Diminished persistence on tasks not having immediate consequences Emotionally immature by about 30%

Talks too much
Impaired adherence to commands in social contexts
Difficulty in adhering to rules and regulations
Diagnosis of gift is missed because of old school thinking

Blurts out before a question is finished
Curiosity
High need for independence
High energy level — needs little sleep or down time
Intuitiveness Emotional sensitivity
Nonconformity
Overexcitabilities in psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational, and emotional areas; need constant stim
Perfectionism
Difficulty concentrating on tasks that are not intellectually challenging
Boredom
Daydreaming
Low tolerance for persistence on tasks that seem irrelevant
Judgment lags behind development of Inhibiting
Non-stop talking/chattering
Intensity may lead to power struggles with authorities
Questions rules, customs and traditions
Misdiagnosed with ADHD because of characteristics of intensity, sensitivity, impatience, and high motor activity Rapid comprehension

As Gifted Underachievers, with or without ADHD, we have underdeveloped EF skills. So, it's important for us to know ourselves, accept ourselves and value our uniqueness, so we can discover our sources of personal power. To continue to hear the flowers singing, and to turn visions and dreams into reality throughout an entire lifetime, is a goal desired by many gifted adults. And, it can feel horrible to not be achieving anything close to those dreams.

The literature indicates that 3 out of 4 adults with ADHD who are gifted are significantly impaired with their EF skills. Their giftedness will help them do better than the average person for a while, however, they may not achieve their potential without the development of their EF skills.

Unfortunately, many professionals turn away high achieving adults seeking assessment and treatment for ADHD out of the belief that no one can have ADHD and achieve academic or professional success. This is appalling. As a result, many adults with significant symptoms of ADHD are left untreated. The same is true of gifted adults with underdeveloped EF skills who are white- knuckling it and covering up whatever is out of alignment or embarrassing to them because they are wondering what's wrong with them. This was definitely my experience.

You can learn more about the signs of underdeveloped EF skills by getting my free resource: 13 Signs Weak Executive Functioning Is Holding You Back. The link is in the show notes.

And, if you are a Gifted Underachiever without ADHD but living with chronic depression, anxiety, addictions, trauma or chronic illnesses, the emotional stress on you is impacting your ability to function, just as it is with those with ADHD, and derailing the development of your EF skills as well.

Emotion distress syndrome or EDS is different than Emotional stress. EDS is the cumulative effect of the neurological processing differences and behavioral changes associated with ADHD. It's a chronic state of stress related to the struggle to live with ADHD and can break down your emotional tolerance, stamina, sense of wellbeing, and spiritual health. The literature doesn't include it, but I would include living with underdeveloped EF skills along with ADHD. It's one reason that I talk about changing ourselves from the inside out, so that we aren't in this chronic state of stress. If we don't make the internal changes necessary, we are signing up for a life of feeling overwhelmed, helpless, hopeless, guilty without a clear cause and spending a lot of time worrying. Furthermore, it puts a strain on us so that we are internally conflicted, frustrated, lose our self- esteem and grieve for what could have been.

Overall, negative stress is very destructive to us humans and needs to be resolved, not managed, since managing it means that it is still there which is harmful.

Over the years, I've found that so many other factors impact how functional we are other than adult ADHD or even underdeveloped EF skills. Our limiting beliefs and outdated identities create obstacles and keep us stuck as the Gifted Underachiever when that isn't how things have to be. We can break free.

I talked a lot about the negative side of being a Gifted Underachiever and there is a positive side as well, even if it doesn't allow us to fully express ourselves.

We:

• Have intense outside interests, and are committed to self-selected work
• Are creative in various ways
• Value honesty and integrity in rejecting unchallenging work, if we aren't codependent or conditioned to be a people pleaser

Continuing with more positives today, for those of you who have been long time listeners, you know I am big on WINS and their importance in your life. There's another important aspect to focusing on WINS and that is you are training your mind every day to notice what is right with you, right with what you are doing and right in the world — in other words... WINS. And especially during a time in our world history when it would be easy to ignore what's right or good or amazing — this is exactly what we need to be focusing on to keep the level of positives within us high, so it can offset the high level of negatives that we are bombarded with every day.

Having a WINS mindset will transform how you experience your life, if you let it, even during very challenging times, like now. How you experience your life and the meanings you give the events of your life contribute greatly to the quality of your life. We don't always have control over the events or experiences; however, we do have control over the meaning we give them.

We know that what you focus on grows and that it's important to stand guard at the doorway to your mind and not let in things that don't serve you. So why focus on anything but WINS? That way, you will continue to attract more and more WINS into your life all leading you to the state of mind and life you want.

You are a precious child of God and the universe; and are called a “human being” not a “human doing” for good reason. You don't have to earn your value; you were born with it. Your value comes from “who” you are; not what you do. And if you need a place to know that is true, be sure to join the Facebook group, Living Beyond ADHD, so you can be with others who will celebrate yours WINS with you and affirm that you are more than okay as you, the “human being."

So, what's it going to be for you today? If you have created and sustained any new habit that is positive for you, that's a wonderful win! If someone asked you to help them today, and you paused and thought first about whether or not it would take away from what you intended for yourself for today, that's an awesome win! If you took yourself out on a date and showed yourself a great time and appreciated yourself for doing so, that's an amazing win. You get the point; celebrate all of them. And none of this “half-hearted celebrating"; you've got to mean it. Exaggerate your emotions. YES!!! WOW!!! AWESOME!!! Be sure to celebrate your WINS — big and small — because celebrating daily builds consistency and makes a faster difference in your life.

How much time do we have? Not much. So, let's get to it.

Back to what you can do about being a Gifted Underachiever and transforming yourself into an Empowered Achiever. There are 5 elements:

First, you need to know the truth about where you are developmentally right now.

Second, you need to know what beliefs you hold that are limiting you and how who you say you are is also limiting you from manifesting your full potential.

Third, you need to develop pre-skills so that you are more likely to be successful in developing your EF skills.

Fourth, you need to develop your foundational EF skills and strategies and embody them so they become your automatic way of being.

Fifth, you need to understand the importance of maintenance and how everything in life requires some level of maintenance.

I want you all to know that there is real hope for eliminating the challenges you are experiencing due to your underdeveloped EF skills, missing pre-skills, limiting beliefs and outdated identities. Take care of these elements and your life will be changed forever for the better.

The widespread needless suffering of millions of adults around the world has to stop, and I am doing what I can to stop it with this generation; with us. We all need to address our limiting beliefs and underdeveloped Executive Function skills if we want to live the life that is possible for us with those changes. We have to be the person who lives the life we say we want; not struggle to live the life we say we want so we can become the person someday who has that life.

We all need empowering beliefs and well-developed Executive Function skills to thrive as adults in today's world. If we can't plan, organize, prioritize, get started and keep going until the end, or regulate states of overwhelm and analysis paralysis so we can more easily make good decisions and know they are good decisions, it's going to cost us dearly.

Slow down and become a student of your own life. Understand what you need to succeed with the multi-faceted brain you have. Take action on what you learn about yourself. This is the lifework that lies ahead for you if this is your time.

You came to this lifetime with an empowering gift, and I would love it if each and every person on this planet were able to express his or her unique, empowering gifts freely, without the threat of being shamed or criticized. Let's put an end to this stigma once and for all. I am looking ahead 7 generations out and can see the world through a lens where all people on this planet are living with well-developed EF skills and have eliminated whatever has held them back so that the world is a very different place than it is today. I know it can be this way, one person at a time.

A Favorite Quote: Marianne Williamson said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” I have included a complete copy of her poem in the show notes.

What this quote says to me is that it's easy to run around and feel like an imposter or feel that people wouldn't want to be our friend if they really knew us. That's easy because so many people are doing that. What's more important is to challenge the limiting belief that it's our inadequacy and embrace that it's our being powerful beyond measure that is terrifying to us.

Whether you're learning from my podcast episodes, free resources, or working with me directly, I want you to live your best life, if that's what you want for yourself. I can't force you to live your best life, however, I can encourage, push a bit (if that's what you need from me) and even rally the closed community of your fellow travelers to support you as well. However, the choice remains with you. You get to choose to continue living as the Gifted Underachiever or decide it's time to upgrade to living as the Empowered Achiever and all that awaits you in that life.

So, here's the path today. Make it a priority to get your copy of 13 Signs Weak Executive Functioning Is Holding You Back. Next, get on the Information List for the AIA-FS program to learn how you can build your EF skills and strategies the Dr B way. Open Enrollment is coming soon, so get prepared now so you know if this is your time and your opportunity knocking. I hope it is and that we will be working together soon.

And, if you want a place to hang out with like-minded listeners to my show, you can ask to join the Living Beyond ADHD FB group. Be sure you are mindful when asking, meaning, you answer the few questions we ask, so you can be approved into the group. Otherwise, it won't happen. And, once you are a member of the group, be sure to visit often and engage with us. Joining and never visiting doesn't help you at all. This is about you following through. The FB group isn't a training group, although there are great posts to learn from and a supportive community to surround yourself with and that's worth a lot. As a member of the Living Beyond ADHD FB group, you will hear about training opportunities sooner. If you are also on the AIA-FS Information List, you will hear about training opportunities, as well. However, you do have to open and read your emails in order to know about these new opportunities I'm offering you. I promise that we won't flood your inbox with tons of emails, however, when we do send them, they have important information in them for you, so be sure you read them if you're seeking transformation.

If you enjoyed today's episode, please share this podcast with others. I would also be grateful if you'd rate the show and write a positive or inspiring review on iTunes so I know I'm meeting your needs. That helps the ratings and more people like you will get to know about the show and be helped. That's you making a difference in others' lives and that means a lot to me.

Are you ready to stop your needless suffering? Have you had enough? Be sure to check out the show notes for the links and opportunities available to you. There are real solutions to the challenges you are experiencing. Time is our most precious asset, and none of us have time to waste on solutions that don't work. I would love to help you realize a new freedom, that is...if that's of interest to you. Thanks for listening... Until the next time... Bye for now…

Resources referred to in this episode:

• Free PDF - 13 Signs Weak Executive Functioning Is Holding You Back: https://www.drbarbaracohen.com/Executive-Function

• Executive Function Information List & AIA-FS Program Information: https://www.drbarbaracohen.com/AIA

• Living Beyond ADHD Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/livingbeyondadhd

Our Deepest Fear
Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear in that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel unsure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

As we let our own Light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

 


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