How Finding Purpose Relieves Symptom of ADHD or ADD

“I would love to come to the Power of Purpose. But I can assure you, my ADD and ADHD will not allow me to sit still in a room for 12 hours!” my client informed me!

I had to laugh.

Then I responded.

“Well first of all, you won’t be in a room for 12 hours. Secondly, you won’t be sitting still. But perhaps most importantly, research shows that reduction in the symptoms of ADD and ADHD are significant when someone finds their purpose.”

“Well, that sounds hopeful. But I have another real problem. My wife says I’m just lazy. Everybody else just says I’m unmotivated. So, I guess finding some purpose wouldn’t do me any good anyway.”

“You are certainly working hard to get yourself out of the Power of Purpose,” I teased him!

He smiled and shook his head in a pondering way as I went on.

“But the great news is, another of the researched benefits of finding purpose is that it creates the most powerful form of sustained motivation.”

“Well, my wife tells me I’m a pain in the backside (that’s not the word he used)… I guess you’re gonna tell me that’s another benefit of finding purpose?” He asked with a clever grin!

After a good laugh, I said, “If that were the case, I’m certain that there would be 10,000 people at every Power of Purpose workshop I ever conducted! Unfortunately, I think you’re on your own to work through that one!” 

The struggle with ADD/ADHD is real! Very real!

Many studies have revealed that finding purpose is one of the greatest things to naturally relieve ADD/ADHD.

Perhaps that’s because purpose provides focus. Focus that means something. But it’s also effective in keeping us self-directed. 

Lack of motivation and ADD/ADHD often go hand-in-hand. 

However, there’re plenty of unmotivated people that do not struggle with ADD or ADHD.

In my years of working with people who have struggled with it, rarely do I find that they’re lazy human beings.

Do they ….

Struggle to get started on anything? Yes!

Difficulty gaining momentum? Yes!

Procrastinating and waiting to the last minute? Yes! 

Lazy? NO!

Although I could not make any promises concerning my client being a pain in the backside to his wife by finding purpose, I knew that sharing Drew’s story with him would resonate.

I’m sharing it with you as well this week, hoping it will inspire you to discover your purpose and to live it passionately!

1. What was your trauma?

Drew, like so many, believed that he just had an average childhood.

Not unusual for any of us … because whatever our childhood was, it was all we knew. And when it’s all you know, we perceive it as ‘normal’.

Then we condition ourselves, sometimes over decades, to live with something smoldering/pulling at us just beneath the surface of our daily thinking. We medicate with substances or behaviors or both.

Paul the Apostle perhaps summed it up best when he wrote and I paraphrase, “The things I don’t want to do … I do, and the things I should do … I don’t.”

Everything that happened to you and me is stored in us just below the surface of our conscious thinking and it matters. Because, unbeknownst to us, it effects our everyday lives.

“Well, I still have a hard time calling it trauma. But I really knew that something screwed me up.”

“As a kid I was all over the place. Mentally, physically, emotionally. No one called it ADHD. My dad would say that I was just never ‘house-broken’. My mom would say I was a strong-willed child and needed to be broken.”

“They both tried to break me in their own ways. Dad with his rage and his belt. Mom with her harsh words, scary tone, and constant beat down of me as a child.”

“My dad was a traveling salesman, and we were all glad when he was gone. No one missed his rage or his belt. But his tour of duty in the military made everyone believe he was our small-town hero.”

“My mom’s mouth spewed vitriol 24/7. At least dad was only around occasionally to use the belt, but her words, her tone, her anger … all permeated the atmosphere continuously and endlessly!”

“I didn’t stay home or inside the house. I would go out into the heat for hours or stay out in the freezing snow or ice for hours to avoid her. Heat stroke or frostbite were no big deal … nothing compared to her mouth.” 

“I didn’t do well in school, but I didn’t fail or anything like that. I just couldn’t pay attention. I knew I was supposed to, and I wanted to. As a result, I was always missing recess or having to stay after school to finish my work.”

“Now I wonder if I was just doing that so I could stay after school and not have to go home.”

“In second grade, my teacher would put me out in the hall to do my work. Finally, one day, she sent me to the principal’s office. The principal told me he would have to call my mother.”

“I begged him not to, and finally he asked me why I was so adamant about him not calling her. I told him that I would get a lecture about what a loser I was and how she wished I was never born. And then I would get the belt when my dad got home in a few days.”

“The principal took me on a walk. He asked me a lot of things. It was scary to me, because I didn’t know what he was going to do, but when we got back to his office, he told me if I would work hard to pay attention, he would wait a week and ask the teacher how I was doing. And if I was better, he would not call my mom.”

“I guess I did OK because I didn’t see him again for a while.”

“Then the big day. I really was trying to pay attention, but somehow, coming in from recess, another little boy and I got in a scuffle, and he pushed me. My elbow hit the teacher’s flowers in a vase on her desk. Water, flowers, and shattered glass went everywhere.”

“She grabbed me by my arm and drug me out in the hall and threatened me with my life if I moved.”

“I was trying to tell her how sorry I was and offered to help clean it up. With her finger in my face and the same tone that I always heard from my mom, she told me to shut up and not move or I would regret it for the rest of my life.”

“She came out and pushed me down the hall to the principal’s office. He wasn’t there, so she sent me to the vice principal.”

“He told me that I was in deep trouble, and immediately picked up the phone and called my mother and told her I was kicked out of school for the rest of the week.”

“For the first time, I knew her words would not be nearly as bad as the belt that I’d get three days later. I was right. I knew I screamed at a whole new level, and something seriously hurt. And the lashes were from my neck to my knees. They went on for a long time.”

“For the first time, it wasn’t just a beating. I wasn’t sure if I was dying. I fell onto the bed, and when I could finally get up, it was covered in blood. I took the sheets off the bed and hid them and went to change my clothes and hid them too. My shirt was shredded in the back and covered in blood, as were parts of my pants.”

“I knew to never speak of it. The shower burned me, and I thought I was going to pass out. I threw up over and over. Of course, at that young age, I really thought I was dying.”

“On Monday, I returned to school, and I could tell the teacher hated me. I did my best to sit still. Halfway through the day, the principal came and asked me to go to his office.”

“He asked me what had happened in the classroom the week before, and I told him. I don’t know what he already knew, or how he knew to ask me the next questions.”

“He asked what happened when I got home that day, and then he asked me what happened when my dad came home.”

“I couldn’t speak. I looked at the floor.  I began to tremble as tears begin to pour out of my eyes. He came from behind his desk and sat beside me and said in a very nice voice: ‘You can tell me the truth I will not speak to your parents about it’. After some extended coaxing, I told him.”

“Then he asked me if he could look at my back. I was terrified, but I allowed him to pull my T-shirt up a bit. Very gently, he put it back down and asked me to go with them to the nurse’s office.”

“All I remember is that he kept coming into the nurse’s office and checking on me. He realized I had missed lunch and asked me what I would like from McDonald’s. I couldn’t believe the principal would get me something from McDonald’s.”

“The next thing I knew, the principal came in with a policeman.  The principal assured me that I had done nothing wrong, and that he would keep his promise to not tell my parents.”

“What he didn’t tell me was that the authorities would speak to my parents.”

“When the principal came in a long time after the bell rang at the end of the day, he told me that I would be going somewhere else to sleep that night.”

“I asked where and I’ll never forget what he said: ‘I’m not sure yet, but it will be a safe place’.”

“A safe place? I wondered what that meant.”

“Ultimately, it was a hospital. Everyone was really nice to me. Everyone was worried about my back, and they talked about infection, bruises, and some places that probably should have been stitched up.”

“Long story short, I went into the foster care system, and my dad was in legal trouble.”

“Although I’ve heard plenty of stories about foster care nightmares, for me it was very different. The family was very nice. There were no harsh words, and there were no belts.”

“I don’t even think that I ever asked if I would see my family again. I ended up staying with that family until I graduated.”

“I was lucky enough to do well in baseball and got a scholarship to play at a small regional college.”

“I did OK in college and developed an interest in the educational system. I remember visiting with the college career planning counselor who asked me if I wanted to teach?”

“I remember what immediately popped out of my mouth: ‘I don’t really want to teach, but I’d love to be a principal’.”

“To this day, I wonder if that principal influenced that statement?”

“I was a principal for about 10 years before I went back to get my degree in forensic psychology. Maybe it was my unfinished business with my parents, or maybe it was just because, by that time, my wife and I had three teenagers in our home to clothe, feed, and educate.”

2. What is your purpose?

So many times, we become what was missing, not a bad thing to do. But a substitute meaning to life never completes us and bring us peace. And so we settle for thinking it wasn’t that bad, and live our lives behind the bars of someone else’s sins.    

“I had never really even thought about purpose in my life.”

“Although … I believe that part of my purpose was to be a great principal to pay back what my principal did for me. And I looked for those opportunities the entire time! “

“When my wife asked me to attend the Power of Purpose with her, I didn’t mind going, I guess I just didn’t know the purpose of purpose…”

“I guess what really got my attention was the piece you did on the emotional train.”

“At first all I could think about was my mom and dad. They were such angry people, and I realized that they had lifetime passes to that train of anger and rage.”

“But when you spoke about riding the emotional train-of-shame when we have experienced trauma, I knew that I had been given a lifetime sentence on that train.”

“Perhaps it had been so ‘yelled and beaten into me’ that I thought the train of shame was my only choice. Shame about who I was, about how I looked, about what I did, and did not do.”

“I’m sure not many people saw that because I kept it under wraps well, but when I said to my wife on the next break at the Power of Purpose: ‘I think I’ve been stuck on the emotional train-of-shame my whole life’… She teared up, and reached out and took my hand and said, ‘I know. And it’s time to jump off that train’.”

“Although I had done the JUMP OFF exercise in the room, we did it together again out in the hall!”

“It opened a whole new life to me that I didn’t even know was possible.”

“By the time we had done the first few pieces on purpose, and gotten to the last one, being OFF of the emotional train-of-shame allowed me to easily write the letter. Just as you had said to allow it to flow without thinking about it … my purpose appeared practically out of nowhere!”

“And certainly, the few tears that escaped my eyes came out of nowhere as I wrote …”

“My purpose is…

To help men recognize the shame that imprisons them, and to get off the train and really live!”

“I had no clue what that would look like, but what I did know was that jumping off that emotional train-of-shame changed the way I viewed myself, the way I viewed my wife, the way I viewed my kids, the way I viewed my life, and the way I viewed the future. And I knew that I wasn’t the only man struggling with that. And that they too, deserved to be free!”

“Not only did I have a purpose, but my life had purpose!”

3. What differences has finding your purpose made in your life? 

“This is difficult for me to put into words.”

“Now that I have studied it for many years, I’m aware that shame bottlenecks the love inside of us. My love is no longer bottlenecked. I unashamedly love my wife, my kids, the men I worked with.”

“There was no love in my home growing up. In my foster family, there was love, but I didn’t know how to give it or receive it.”

“As a husband, I’ve loved my wife. I really did. But I’m pretty sure prior to the Power of Purpose, she would say she did not feel particularly loved.”

“But when I jumped off the emotional train-of-shame, the bottleneck opened up on her. She loved it and so did I!”

“Soon, I was allowing it to pour out on my kids. I guess I had some of that macho programming. I mean, I was good to my kids, but somehow, I thought pouring out love on them was weak or feminine or something like that.”

“Much to my surprise … their respect, admiration, and connection to me grew tremendously!”

“You can call me a sappy old man or whatever you’d like, but I’m unashamed of the love that pours out of me now.”

“I guess the most significant thing that’s happened to me with finding purpose is that self-confidence has allowed me to open my own firm in forensic psychology.”

“Finally, when the shame evaporated, self-confidence began to pour down like a gentle rain.”

“Maybe most importantly, I know that finding my purpose has helped me in living a fulfilled life. “

“I was successful before, but there’s a difference between being successful and being fulfilled. I love the work I get to do with other men becoming free of their shame. And it creates a sense of meaning that I never dreamed I would have!”

“As for my ADD/ADHD, it is no longer a struggle. I had already done a lot of focus training and brain training before I found my purpose. After finding my purpose, I’m simply over the ADD/ADHD, just as you said on that first morning that research had indicated would happen with purpose.”

“What would I say to your audience?

I would say that finding your purpose will open a deeper and richer life than you’ve ever even known was possible. I believe we all live at a fraction of the fulfillment that’s available to us when we live with purpose!”


“It’s universal to want to have a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives and feel as if we are making a valuable contribution. For people with ADHD, this is especially important, because what we are passionate about truly contains the answers to what will hold our attention and interest. When something holds our attention and interest, we are more likely to experience success and feel happier. The positive experience of success and happiness then spills over to positively influence other areas of our ADHD lives.”

Laurie Dupar, Nurse Practitioner / ADHD Coach

Purpose truly does give a new focus and passion to people who have struggled with ADD/ADHD.

If you struggle with it, I hope you will end the struggle by discovering your purpose.

You deserve a rich, meaningful life!

That’s my hope and prayer for you!