Saturday, June 15, 2013

If You Think Fear-Based Management Works for You—Think Again


Prior to being diagnosed with ADHD at age 37, my husband says his best coping tool was "Fear-Based Management"—fondly referred to as FBM. What sometimes seems to help us cope in the short term can, in the long-term be our undoing. And, for many adults with late-diagnosis ADHD, it's hard to distinguish between helpful and counterproductive coping skills.;

As regards my husband's long top go-to strategy, FBM, he swears it got him through graduate school. The way it worked then: He nurtured thoughts of disastrous consequences if he didn't finish that paper on time and complete that research project. 

FBM may have helped him to earn a tough advanced degree in the hard sciences. But, looking back, with the advantage of diagnosis and better treatment, he sees now that "self-medicating with fear" did little for his nervous system or, ultimately, his ability to relax and enjoy life.

Anyone following the online headlines and heated commentary these days, on any topic, gets the feeling we're all relying a little too heavily on FBM and the rest of the limbic system. Being a little too quick to react, without fully taking in details, and often in anger. A little too willing to let our "primitive" and fear-based brains overcome higher-order, more rational thinking. 

I was pondering about this very topic when I ran a piece by writer Susan Schorn, author of Smile at Strangers and Other Lessons In the Art of Living Fearlessly. I found her essay "Tigers, Tigers" wise and thought-provoking. She has graciously allowed me to reprint below. Enjoy—and check out the video sharing Susan's fascinating journey from a "small child with a small personality" into a powerful writer and martial-arts instructor who teaches violence prevention.