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ADHD Adults

Learning Something New - Scared

I get anxious and often self-defeating when I need to learn something.  The reason - I have trouble determining the key points and then learning the other ocean of details. For example, I am starting to train to learn lean manufacturing. There are roughly 13 tools used in this topic. One of these tools has a 70-page PowerPoint file. I have struggled throughout my life to learn and remember details. Oh no - how do I confidently learn all of these in time? How do I not believe that I am defeated before I start?


I do not know anything about you. Are you a christian? If you are have you asked God in prayer to help you. Is there someone else who can help you?

Posted by Rancher John on Nov 13, 2013 at 12:43am

I just started learning SharePoint development, and there’s actually quite a bit involved…much more than I had anticipated.  I bought a couple books on the topic and one is about 1,000 pages and weighs as much as my laptop.  I don’t feel self-defeated when I have to learn something new, but I do feel overwhelmed sometimes, which makes me a little anxious in the beginning.  I’ve figured out the best way for me to learn something intricate and complex is to get a solid overview of the subject, then slowly layer in the details. That often means going over the material more than once, each time layering in more information, until I finally get it.  If I try to get the overview and all the details on the first pass, I tend not to do very well, and I get information overload, which causes me to get frustrated.

The long-held Nike adage, “Just Do It!” doesn’t just ring true for sports, it also holds true for this kind of situation.  Don’t think of what you can’t do.  Think of what you’ve accomplished to get where you are right now, and naturally assume that you can accomplish even more.  Just go out and do it.  Put forth your best effort and reap the rewards of your hard work.  And while you’re working towards your goal, revel in the process.

Lots of luck.  I know you can do it!

Posted by csiagent32 on Nov 13, 2013 at 12:54am

I def relate. Like every ADDer I know, I’m smart but a terrible student, can’t remember ANYTHING even moments after I try.  I spent an entire summer EVERY DAY studying for a licensing exam 10 yrs after grad school. I bought CDs listened in my car, read, took notes, outlined chapters, took hundreds of sample exams…Because I WANTED THIS badly.

When it comes to your example I also relate.

I know that fear will put a strangle-hold on my actions. Fear of all my past failures. Inability to remember. Disappointing everyone. So when I’m worried about taking on anything that’s out of my comfort zone I target my thoughts about it first.

Q.What’s the worst that will happen if I don’t learn this 13-pt thingy?
_I’ll get fired, demoted, frowned upon.
Q.What’s the worst that will happen if I get fired, etc
_I’ll have to find new job, move in w/ parents, give up my car, etcetcetc).

What is the worst thing that will happen if you CAN NOT learn it? Will it kill you? Prob not. Will it be a royal pain? Prob yes.

Knowing you can cope with any outcome, the WORST outcome, is the first step in getting rid of self-sabotage.

The second step for me is to understand WHY I need this info.

Q.I need to learn this 13- step thing why?
_Will I be tested?
_Because I’m using it in the field,
_ it’s a stepping stone to knowing bigger stuff?

Q. HOW will I need to use the info?
_to make my job/machines/programs work?
_I’m going to train other people in it?
_can I keep ‘cheat sheets’ handy or must I memorize immediately

Finding the answers to these types of questions helps me break down some personal resistance, which is really what self-sabotage is. I hate the perception of ‘wasting’ effort and time, (which I do a LOT lol) so it would help me to focus on the most critical parts of the 13 points

Ask questions, be clear about your goals, and know this is a choice for you. Hope this makes sense. Good luck.

Posted by Berky on Nov 13, 2013 at 8:57pm

Berky, I do like the idea of clarifying things first. I thought before my first day of studying of why I want to do this and came up with a few reasons. Any of you, please comment on these reasons.

General Rationale
My future will be affected by what I do today, a sowing then reaping idea. Plant seeds today; see results later. My now resulted from what I did and didn’t do previously.

Specific Rationale
1. I will learn a technical topic. Perhaps that will allow me to work in manufacturing companies after a few months of this topic.
2. I will train others on these topics this upcoming January. Learning the material and training others on it will increase my training skills to that I may be able to launch a training career or teach in colleges.
3. To show me that I can learn something technical.

Tell me if you view these reasons as valid or as an eventual trap for myself.

One way I am trying to remember the information as I learn is to add to each day a review of what I learned the day before. So on day three, which will be today, I will review the work from day 1 and day 2 and learn new things. I give myself a time limit each day. I know that as I add new information and repeat previous information, I will need more time. At some point I wont be able to include old info with new info. At least this helps me learn it through repetition. Any comments about this technique?

Thanks folks.

Posted by Newleaf on Nov 13, 2013 at 9:26pm

Hi NL.
To me, your rationale to take this on seems valid.

Is it really what you want or is there a ‘should’ or a ‘they want’ behind it. Only you know the answer: the former is valid motivation, the latter may lead to a ‘trap’, imho.

Because I have such a hard time remembering what I read, I’d get so frustrated by repeating the parts I studied previously.  I didn’t retain it so, to me, it was a waste of time. If it’s working for you though, that’s all that counts!

For me, after I read a few sentences, I wrote a summary of it. What wrked the most was taking every available test over and over until I knew the answers cold. I made it an open-book test, would search the material for the answers. It helped me retain info. The audio in my car was the second best technique and I’d repeat what I heard, again, over and over.

Good luck finding what works best for you!

Posted by Berky on Nov 14, 2013 at 9:43pm

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