ADHD adults need more self-compassion. Don’t get me wrong. It’s important for adults with ADHD to have a sense of self-confidence.
Being confident in who you are is a good thing. You won’t feel the need to tie yourself in knots trying to be someone else. You can be, well, just you. And this can also translate in being able to comfortably express yourself even when your viewpoint may be unpopular.
Likewise, people in your professional circles may be drawn to you when you are confident in what you have to offer. That is, they may be more confident in your abilities and want to work with you when you seem self-assured.
There are obviously a lot of positive aspects of self-confidence. But what if your default is to try to put on a false face when you are really struggling.
No doubt, acting as if — taking action in spite of your doubts — is a good thing, for sure. But, if you are often putting on a false face and not taking care of yourself, you will likely feel anxious, overwhelmed and stressed. Sound familiar?
If this is true for you, a better alternative for ADHD adults is to learn how to be more self-compassionate. And, as a result, you may just become more self-confident in who you are or what you have to offer.
ADHD Adults and Self-Confidence Based on Shoulds
I bet you have internalized rules for yourself you may not even follow and did not intentionally adopt. They may have come from all the noise around you — family, friends, social media, books, the internet etc. — telling you what to do.
And, even though you didn’t explicitly adopt them, these rules may still weigh on you like a ton of bricks. They have become your shoulds — rules you think you must follow.
For example, you might think you should be able to:
- socialize or network easily in large gatherings.
- communicate your ideas clearly in meetings.
- organize and execute on large projects
But your ADHD might make it difficult. Yet, while you feel like an imposter, you keep on trying. And, when you can’t follow these self-imposed rules, you feel anything but self-confident. Rather, you feel shame and frustration at your perceived inadequacies.
ADHD Adults, Self- Confidence and The Lone Ranger Syndrome
But, not wanting others to see your shame and frustration, you may alternate between a show of bravado and avoidance.
And resist asking for help. One reason for this resistance is you may not feel good enough, maybe because of your ADHD. And you may think asking for help is just another indication you are not good enough. So, you decide in order for people to see you as capable you’ll just have to try harder.
I’m guessing, if that is your strategy, it is not working very well. And you might be suffering from the Lone Ranger Syndrome. That is, even when it is better to ask for help you don’t, like when:
- you’re stuck on a project at work.
- you can’t make heads or tails of your finances.
- your physical space is a mess and you don’t know how to organize it.
- you don’t know how to create a plan to manage your ADHD.
Interestingly, you may go out of your way to lend others a helping hand when they are in need. And I bet you don’t think less of them. Yet, you don’t reach out for help when you need it. Hmmm… Interesting, don’t you think?
We all need help. You know that.
Ready to stop isolating yourself and begin reaching out for support? That help can come from many sources, including friends, family, colleagues and professionals. Think about where you need help, ranging from the mundane details of life to the more important.
Because, in this regard, you are like everyone else – you need help, too.
Why ADHD Adults Need to Develop More Self-Compassion
One way to get rid of your “shoulds” and feel more comfortable reaching out for help when you need it is to develop self-compassion.
To start thinking about this reflect on how you would like to treat others who are struggling. When someone is suffering I bet you want to be understanding and kind — compassionate. And not judgmental and critical, right? You might even reach out to help others out of compassion.
But how do you treat yourself when you are struggling, make mistakes and sometimes fail? Rather than treating yourself as you would others, you might be resorting to shame and blame.
According to Dr. Kristin Neff, if you are treating yourself with self-compassion, you would:
Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?
Are you ready to try this?
How to Practice Self-Compassion When You Have ADHD
Like other adults with ADHD, you may wonder if self-compassion is just another excuse to let yourself off the hook. I can assure you that just the opposite is true. As Dr. Neff points out:
You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are.
Here are some steps you can take to develop more self-compassion.
The first step is to acknowledge when you are having a difficult time, rather than ignoring your suffering by:
- stopping in the moment.
- telling yourself, “This is really hard.”
- then asking, “What can I do to take care of myself?”
Next, you might want to explore Dr. Neff’s suggested guided meditations and self-compassion exercises to practice self-compassion.
And, if you want to make improvements in managing your ADHD, learn about your brain wiring. This understanding will help you see that you are really not crazy, lazy or stupid! Rather, your ADHD challenges stem from a brain based biological disorder
With this understanding you will be in a better place to figure out creative workarounds for your challenges, whether related to your ADHD are not. You may decide to seek out professional or other forms of support to help you do this.
As you take this journey learning how to avoid negative thinking traps will also be critical. Because your distorted thinking can often lead you back to shame and blame, rather than toward self-compassion
ADHD Adults Need More Self-Compassion. How About You?
Take this Self-Compassion Test to find out.
I did and found that I have work to do in this area. Looking forward to digging in, though.
How about you? Is it time to develop more self-compassion?