Adults with ADHD can beat themselves up or not forgive themselves for their mistakes. If you experienced ADHD in childhood, you may have received a message of disapproval from those around you, because people did not understand your ADHD behavior. This message can transform into critical internal dialogue and carry through to adulthood. This self-critic can tell you that you’re not good enough no matter what you have achieved. How can adults with ADHD work on their self-esteem and turn around the “I’m not good enough” thoughts?
1. Uncover your strengths. Stop focusing on your weaknesses and look at all the things you already do well. Make a list of your natural talents and abilities, which may include your sense of humor, your loyalty, or your ability to talk to or work well with others.
2. Do some skill-building. Get some instruction or practice something that you love but need more skills to excel at it. Don’t give up! You can use technology or take classes in an area that you have a skill but would like to make a strength.
3. Don’t be afraid to say no. Some people close to you may be negative or destructive when it comes to your ADHD. Surround yourself with people who support you and don’t expect you to be something you’re not. You don’t have to cut yourself off from your friends or family, but you can limit the time you spend with them if they aren’t supportive. Being around people who appreciate and support you can help raise your self-esteem and clear the way for your happiness and success.
4. Measure yourself by your own standards. Self-esteem does not rely on other people’s opinions. If you are replaying critical words or phrases in your head- “I’m always late!” or “I knew I was different!” or “Nobody wants to be with me!”- meeting with a mental health professional might help you replace these negative scripts with positive ones. Your ADHD is not you; it’s only part of who you are.