In my work as an ADHD coach, there is one common problem that all of my clients share: painful self-doubt. The ADHD brain is, unfortunately, fertile ground for the seeds of self-doubt.
If everyone says you’re a problem, it’s easy for the ADHD brain to accept this.
This comes from years, even decades, of being treated with disrespect. Peers stigmatized them for blurting or being “annoying.” Teachers punished them for having too much enthusiasm when class was interesting and not enough when class was dull. Parents felt frustrated by their inconsistent behavior and their trouble following the rules. Friends and lovers got tired of their flakiness and their impulse to shut down during a confrontation. You can only take so much of this turmoil before your ADHD brain begins to internalize the message, “You’re not good enough.”
But really, self-doubt is one side of a coin. The other side is resilience.
Over and over again, I have helped my clients realize how tough they are. They have been hurt and rejected in a million ways. We’ve all been told, “Be who you are. Be comfortable in your own skin.” And then hypocritically ADHD’ers have been penalized whenever they’ve acted the slightest bit differently.
By the time I see my clients, the years of discomfort have worn them down. But they still have hope. They still have the energy to look for answers, to seek me out, and ask for help. Lucky for me, I get to take these people and build their self-respect back up where it belongs. In my work with them, I show them that they are valuable and talented people, not “disordered” mess-ups. The world has made them forget, but together, I get them to remember. And once they do remember, that resilience is the spark that lights a fire in their souls. I wish that everyone with ADHD could find a personal advocate to help them with this journey.
Resilience in action becomes compassion.
Since ADHD’ers know what it feels like to be marginalized, they are deeply compassionate people. They know what it’s like to be rejected and ignored, and so often they are ready to stop that sort of injustice from happening to anyone else. This is the power of the ADHD spirit. Even after almost four decades in this specialty, I am surprised and delighted by the amount of passion that my clients can summon when they start to believe in themselves again. It’s the most rewarding job in the world, getting to watch people fall in love with their lives again!
If you’re feeling sad and beat up, take a little while to shut out the noise of the world and listen to your heart again. You have the power inside of you to change your circumstances, to carry on, and to help improve someone else’s life. You are resilient, ADHD’er!