Ever wondered why you’re stimming?
ADHDers need attention and energy regulation:
– Eliminate / manage distractions
– Muster attention / focus
– Retrieve memories
Developmental Trauma folks stim for a different set of reasons:
– Self comfort
– Distraction from pain
– Ignore acute fear
– Repress shame
– Negotiate disappointment
Experiment: Make a list of all your stims (chewing pencil, holding your breath, tapping feet, etc.)
Next to each, try to imagine the payoff, or the motive.
- Stim – payoff / motive
- Pulling hair – recruit energy when bored
- Chewing fingernail – dealing with worry
- Joylessly consuming sugar – recruit energy when bored
- Pounding side of head – trigger memory
- Fantasy – escape from pain
- Criticizing others – escape from low self-esteem
Stims can emerge for a bunch of reasons, but most of them carry a cost. If they help you focus, regulate energy, or remember stuff, you may be unwilling to even consider letting them go or replacing them.
But if they’re ancient survival tactics, they may be blocking you from things you really want.