Growth

One Truth to Overcome Insecurity

insecurity

Synopsis: This post is about insecurity. But it is not for the faint-hearted. Read with an open mind. If you’re not prepared to do that, best not read it at all.

Thought you’d have grown out of insecurity by this age, didn’t you? Kind of disappointed that you’re still not confident and self-assured, at your age?

While you sit there feeling like a gawky, spotty-faced teenager inside, hiding behind a “wreck-of-a-human-being” guise – assholes are taking over the world and getting successes they don’t deserve.

Oh, I’m sorry… I thought you liked being talked to that way. You do it to yourself all the time!

Since you seem to enjoy a good-old masochistic mental ass-kicking… move over and let me have a turn.

You are an adult. Adulting doesn’t come with a side-order of confidence. Confidence is like money. If you’re not born with it, you gotta go out there and make it.

Now that I have your attention, let’s soften the tone and abandon the vitriol and derision. Please forgive me for using shock tactics to cut through your mental bullshit. But something had to be done.

Here’s the Problem:

Insecurity Makes You Feel…

  • Weak
  • Unsure of yourself
  • Embarrassed
  • Less than everyone else
  • Vulnerable

Insecurity Stops You From...

  • Speaking your mind
  • Being at ease in social situations
  • Taking chances
  • Being an active participant of life
  • Being yourself

 

Recognize the True Nature of Insecurity

You know when you buy a $30 stereo from an electronics store and the cashier generously offers to sell you an additional 10-year warranty for only $15? She makes it sound like you’ll be a regretful idiot if you don’t get the warranty. But you don’t really care if this stereo lasts ten years. You only want it for a beach picnic. Its long-term destiny is your hall closet, or maybe a garage sale or charity shop, where one day it can spread its electronic wings and move across town to someone else’s closet.

Plus $15 is kind of expensive for a gadget that only costs $30 in the first place, don’t you think?

That’s what insecurity is. A really expensive insurance policy designed to protect you from the psychological dangers of rejection, failure and humiliation. You get to protect your fragile little psyche by making sure it’s never exposed to anything that could make it even fragile-er. Like protecting a china doll from grubby little kiddie hands. Put that china doll back in the cupboard where it belongs, bubs.

But there’s something else about that over-priced warranty: It doesn’t cover everything. That $30 stereo is covered if its wiring catches on fire through a manufacturing error. It’s not covered if your stereo goes car-surfing and hits the ditch at 40 mph. Let’s be honest… how often do stereos succumb to spontaneous combustion (when they’re not Samsungs)?

Take the risk. Spend that $15 on a book, movie ticket or a cheap box of wine.

 

What about Your Insecurity, Though?

Not speaking your mind, not putting yourself out there, not being yourself… they don’t make you more confident or secure. They just feed insecurity, making you spin in circles like this pointless pursuit.

Feel insecure. Don’t speak up. Don’t speak up. Feel more insecure.

You get it?

But wait, there’s more!

No matter how hard you try to avoid embarrassment/humiliation/rejection/____ (insert your psychological phobia here)… shit will still happen to you. You’ll still find things to feel bad about. That’s the way your brain has been wired – to look for threats and weaknesses.

 

In-Security Instead of Insecurity

Brace yourself, you’re not going to like what I have to say. But shut up and listen because I’m doing the ass-kicking today.

When you feel anxious and uptight around other people because you don’t feel good enough, smart enough, or whatever enough, remember this:

Three-quarters of the people around you feel exactly the same way, whether they show it or not.

We human beings are delicate, fragile little souls, who walk around this planet uncertain of our worthiness to even be present and alive.

We didn’t make ourselves. We are an expression of life. Call it God or the universe or life force or whatever you choose – you are worthy because you are alive. Being alive means bumping into things and tripping over words. It means stuttering and stammering, hiccupping and falling over. Looking stupid, having brain farts and verbal diarrhea – yep, they’re part of being alive too.

Nobody said being polished and perfect was the only way to win this game. Going out there and living authentically – that’s the way you really score. Showing up as you are, and being okay with how you are (otherwise known as being authentic) – is the only path to feeling secure. And when you allow yourself to be okay as you are, you give those other insecure people the freedom to accept themselves too.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

So really, when it comes to insecurity, there is only one thing you should fear: everything you’ll lose because of a useless, overpriced insurance policy that doesn’t cover everything anyway.

Mindset

What Does Acceptance Look Like?

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know I talk a lot about acceptance, especially the importance of accepting your ADD/ADHD. But what does acceptance look like? More importantly, why is it even important?

Acceptance is a vague word. Dictionary.com offers a couple of definitions of this word, but for the purpose of this post, the first definition is important.

“The act of taking or receiving something offered”.

The act of taking or receiving something offered? Taking or receiving ADD? How exactly does a person go about taking or receiving ADD?

Let’s face it, you don’t exactly have a choice. You have to take AND receive ADD because you can’t give it back. As much as you would like to…

Perhaps it is easier to explain what acceptance is not. It’s not self-deprecation. It’s not beating yourself up. It’s not making excuses and it’s certainly not trying to be something you’re not!

Acceptance does look a little something like this…

“I know by now that I need to plan my day in advance if I hope to get anything done. My ADHD makes me think I “wing it”, even though that seldom works out. Sometimes it does and those times are so good, I wish it could always be like that. But if I don’t plan, there’s a better chance my day won’t go as well as it could. Sometimes, I’m overly optimistic – which can be a good thing, in some situations. But I am learning to become more realistically-optimistic when it comes to planning my day!”

What did you notice there? An objective analysis, rather than negativity or unrealistic positivity. An examination of all angles. A focus on learning. An awareness of how the self operates in tandem with ADHD. An endorsement of both strengths and challenges. A spirit of acceptance with a commitment to ongoing work at positive change.

What you didn’t notice was criticism or judgement. Not of the self or the ADD that goes along with it.

Why is this important? Because ADD is a defiant bugger. The angrier you get at it, the more it will act out. Have you ever had an argument with a difficult person? The more you engage in the argument, the more difficult they become? That’s your ADD – acting out, because it feels misunderstood.

Sometimes, in order to manage life better, you first need to change the dynamic in your relationship with your ADHD.

Some of you out there are struggling with the realities of living with ADD. I’d like to ask the rest of you to share your stories of personal growth and self-acceptance, so that we can reach out and help our tribe members who are struggling! Please share in the comments below.

(P.S. I’ve heard from some readers that they’re often afraid of commenting, for fear that they won’t be able to express themselves the way they’d like to come across. Here at The Art of ADD we promote a spirit of acceptance that allows you to say whatever is in your heart, however you are able to say it – so go ahead and say it!)

Mindset

A Perfect Letter to Your Critics

Dear Perfect Person,

I feel the need to write and explain myself because I think you may have gotten the wrong idea about me.

When you walked into my house today, you saw a disaster zone – stuff scattered all over, finger-printed walls and dust proliferating in the far corners of the floor. You saw counters littered with homeless debris, old dishes and clothing displaced like refugees from their rightful homes.

You didn’t see how many times I cleaned up this week, only to have my work undone by some other disruptive demand.

I know this shocks you, Perfect Person, because I’ve been to your home and seen with my own eyes just how perfect your home is. Everything in its place, including the dust – which lives not on your house but in your garden – where it should be.

When I interrupted you today (each time), I sensed your disgust at my utter lack of manners. You don’t interrupt, Perfect Person, but I am sorry that I can’t contain myself as well as you do. I just get excited when our conversation inspires new ideas in me.

You don’t know how many times I wanted to interrupt you, but held myself back – even though what I had to say was really good. How is it that you are always so stoic and controlled in your conversation? Where’s your enthusiasm?

And another thing – when you asked me if I’d gotten around to doing that thing you asked, your disappointment was palpable. I know it was very important to you. I really do want to be someone you can rely on.

But everyone in my life has something to ask of me – something that is very important to them. I don’t want to disappoint any of them, so what should I do, Perfect Person? I say “yes” to everyone. I’ve tried to say no, but I can see the distrust in their eyes when I do. I see it in your eyes, Perfect Person. When I admit the things I haven’t done, you don’t see the things I have.

When I’m late, I can tell how annoyed you are, Perfect Person. I don’t know how you manage to get everywhere on time, looking perfect and having it all-together. How can you possibly manage it EVERY TIME, hey Perfect Person? Maybe you don’t have enough to do, maybe you should be busier, maybe you should quit being so damn punctual, PERFECT PERSON!

By the way, back to the whole conversation thing… I know it annoys you when I go off on a tangent about something. I see your eyes glaze over. If you stayed tuned for just for a minute longer, you’d see the association I am trying to draw out is not only completely relevant, but also – very, very interesting!

*sigh*

Can I ask you something, Perfect Person?

How come you always blame me for not listening when you’re talking trite small- talk? I may waffle a bit, but why should I listen to your boring stories when you don’t listen to my long-winded ones?

And one last thing…

Yes, Perfect Person, I am scattered. I am disorganized, and waffly and forgetful and dithery. I am restless, and irritable, and sometimes – a bit emotionally unstable. I’ll admit to all these things.

Why is it that these things are so easy to point out in me, just because someone diagnosed me with ADD? If I take you to a psychiatrist, and he diagnoses your insensitive, arrogant, puritanical, anal, holier-than-thou finger-pointing as “Hypocriticalitis”…

Can I take YOU to task on all those things, the way you repeatedly blame me for my symptoms?

Good. I’m glad we talked and got this all figured out, Perfect Person. I certainly feel a lot better. Thank you for “listening”.

Now get out of my head, so I can start imagining what all the other people in my life are thinking about me too.

Sincerely,

Sensitive About ADD

 

Nine times out of ten, the critic who scorns you most for being scattered is you. That’s who this letter is really for, just to be clear. “Perfect Person” is just a figment of your imagination, just as anyone who pretends to be perfect is a figment of their own imagination.

Stop imagining what other people think about you and your ADHD, and get working on what you think about it.

How many times in day do you notice all the things you didn’t get done, instead of the things you did finish?

When you look at your home or your office – how often do you notice the clutter but fail to acknowledge all the other things you do on a regular basis just to maintain it?

If your ADD flares during a conversation with a friend or a new acquaintance, how much of your “post-mortem” focuses on repetitively replaying the silly things you said, rather than the meaningful and successful parts of the encounter?

How frequently do you focus on what sucks about you, but COMPLETELY IGNORE WHAT IS AWESOME!?

You gotta wake up, friend. The only person you can never get away from is you.

So if you want more from yourself, you’d better start with being a little bit kinder.

Please share this with anyone who needs a wake-up-call to their awesomeness.

And have an awesome day.

Mindset

The Monsters University Guide to Non-Conformity

“One who walks in another’s tracks leaves no footprints.” Proverb

In the last post I urged you to accept your ADHD for what it is, and start living with it instead of judging it. Today, I will tell you why. And let me give you a little hint – it has everything to do with non-conformity.

We are all born with limitless potential. From the moment of birth, the path laid before us is one of never-ending twists and turns, speed bumps and potholes. There are ups and downs, unexpected sharp curves and just sometimes… unswerving thoroughfares we can coast along enjoying the journey. We know this about life. Though we don’t know exactly where we are going, we do know that we are going somewhere. At least we hope we are.

Over time, our faith in the path erodes. We can’t see where we are going. We see the twists and bumps, the curves that took us off guard, but we lose sight of the destination. Others seem to coast along, while we veer from side to side and occasionally even hit the ditch. We compare our journey to theirs. We start to wonder if we are going anywhere. We fear that, in fact, we are going nowhere.

So what can a couple of fictitious monsters teach us about course-correcting our life’s path?

If you haven’t seen Monsters University, here is a little synopsis (spoiler alert here):

Mike Wizowski is a small and somewhat cute one-eyed monster. All his life, he has dreamed of going to Monsters University and becoming the best Scarer there ever was. He believes it to be his destiny. When he finally gets the chance, he discovers that despite his unequalled spirit, dedication and hard work, he does not have what it takes to become the Scarer he dreams of being. He knows the theory better than anyone but he lacks the one thing that can never be taught: he’s just not scary.

While at University, he does manage to overcome some major challenges. He finds a purpose for his wealth of knowledge and learns how to apply it to his work. But he never graduates and he never – ever – learns how to be truly scary.

There was an opportunity for Disney Pixar to give us the cliché happy ending we tend to want from an animated film. They could have had Mike reach deep down inside himself; get in touch with the inner Scarer he longed to be and let him out. That would have told the tale of the underdog finding victory through heroic self-mastery.

But they didn’t. Instead, Mike flunked out and got his coveted Scarer job – eventually – by working his way up from the mail room of Monsters Inc.

Profound, isn’t it?

In all seriousness, there are several take-aways this movie offers as inspiration. One being that just because you are not headed where you think you should be going, doesn’t mean you are going nowhere. Sometimes you have to go about reaching your goals in a way you hadn’t originally planned.

But I think the more important lesson that resonates is this:

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
Lao Tzu (Click to tweet)

Uh-huh. I did just make a connection between the great Chinese philosopher and a Disney monster. You see, I did not tell you the whole story. Mike never became a world-class Scarer. But he did become a top notch “scare consultant”. One who helped other monsters, especially his best friend Sulley, achieve unprecedented success as Scarers through using prowess for advising on them with his expert knowledge. You don’t always have to play the game to be in the game. In essence, he became what he might be. Not what he originally wanted to be, but what he was meant to be nevertheless.
(I can’t stress enough here that I, too, am alarmed by the fact that I am philosophizing over a monster movie!)

 

But what does this mean for non-conformity and ADD?

When you think you are going nowhere…
When you feel like you’re chasing your tail…
and never getting any further ahead…

You might be forgetting an important truth about the journey. Just because your destination is not visible on the horizon, does not mean it isn’t there. And because your journey looks a little different to the journeys of those around you, does not make your journey any less worthy, or your destination any less beautiful. You just need to open your eyes to the horizon in front of you.

Put another way:

“The irony is that the energy ADD adults expend on their attempts at sameness is wasted, as is the anxiety parents generate of their child’s differentness. The world is much more ready to accept someone who is different and comfortable with it than someone desperately seeking to conform by denying himself. It’s the self-rejection others react against, much more than the differentness. So the solution is for the adult not to “fit in”, but to accept his inability to conform. The child’s uniqueness has to first find a welcome in the heart of the parent.” Gabor Mate, Scattered Minds

 

If you want to make footprints in this world, walk your own path. Even when you’re not sure of where that path is taking you … keep walking.

The destination is always in front of you.

Mindset

5 Myths About Confidence with ADHD (Debunked!)

If you don’t feel confident in who you are as a person with ADHD, then mastering any ADHD challenges you face is pointless.

Who would you be trying to master them for? Other people? Why? So they can be happier with you, even if you’re not going to be happy with yourself?

What would that say to other people? That you aren’t worth the effort, but they are? Sell yourself out, basically?

Confidence is an elusive and abstract concept. I happen to have an affinity for making the abstract more transparent and accessible. You don’t have to agree with my conceptualizations. I am so confident in my beliefs that I welcome objections.

Confidence is something that many people struggle with, and even more so when you have ADD. When the way the world is built, structured and organized is almost directly oppositional to the way your brain works – finding your confidence in that world can be a bit like looking for Waldo wearing kaleidoscope glasses.

At the same time, how confident you are with you ADHD all depends on how you choose to view it.

If you want to get truly confident in yourself, you need to know what this thing is you are striving for. There are a lot of fallacies about confidence that need to be exposed. These false beliefs about confidence may be the very things stopping you from actually getting it.

 

1. Confidence is something you’re born with.

The only traits we know, beyond doubt, that people are born with is their natural propensity towards having skin, teeth, organs, bones and hair (until middle age, anyway). Even eye colour changes around six months of age.

There are many diagnosable conditions that experts surmise are present from birth. Self-esteem and confidence are not any of these conditions.

Plenty of attentive and well-meaning parents breed non-confident children. Many children are born more introspective and shy. These two things do not exclude one from being confidant. Yes, you can be quiet and confident. On the other hand, I have known exuberant and outgoing children who have been reared by introverted parents. Again, confidence is not tied to your personality or style of relating to people.

It is certainly not tied to genetics.

 

2. Confidence is the result of achievement.

Achievement certainly adds kindling to the fire of self-confidence. Several studies indicate that ultimately the best way to foster a child’s self-esteem is not to bolster it with floods of praise, but to give them ample opportunities to achieve a feeling of self-efficacy. That is – give them opportunities to challenge themselves and succeed. Acknowledge their effort and dedication rather than an innate ability(being naturally good at something) that they have no control over. This gives them a feeling of mastery and develops their internal-locus of control – a phenomena closely linked to resilience in life.

However, if that sense of self-efficacy is lacking in adulthood, we lose the courage to challenge ourselves. Our history tells us it’s pointless. Experience of “failures” and criticisms prevent us from exposing ourselves to further humiliation and we tell ourselves that it is better not to try at all.

The irony is that we will never feel better about ourselves unless we try.

Sometimes we need to start with a bit of self-confidence, a little seed that can be sprouted with gentle care and nurturing, and planted to grow on its own against the elements once it is heartier. Confidence won’t grow out of nothing. Plant the seedling safe in your heart first. When it is stronger and ready to bud, you will be readier to challenge yourself again.

Seedlings of confidence start sprouting when you look for the small successes. No success is too small to overlook. The smallest of achievements, when focused on a celebrate, will combine and grow together into much bigger accomplishments.

 

 3. Confidence is fixed.

Once you are confident, you will never doubt yourself again right?

No. This is one of the most damaging falsehoods commonly perceived about this topic.

The truth is, confident people frequently lack confidence.

Huh? Yes, that is exactly it – confidence waxes and wanes in different times and situations in life.

However, intrinsically confident people consciously accept the ebb and flow of it. They know there are times they will doubt themselves. The difference is – they don’t endorse feelings of un-sureness as a truth or statement about themselves. They accept the feeling will go away and that feeling down about yourself is not the same as loathing yourself.

They don’t attach confidence to their identity.

They don’t say “I knew I was crap! I will never amount to anything.” They say “I am feeling like crap right now. But I have plenty of reasons to believe that I won’t feel this way forever.”

Why is this idea so damaging?

If you believed that ultimate confidence is something to be achieved as an end result, like winning The X Factor or becoming UFC’s next victor, you wouldn’t bother trying very hard for it. That ideal would be so incomprehensible to your psyche it would seem impossible.

The climb to that ideal would feel too hard to even bother trying. And even if you did pursue it, any little event that challenged you along the way would send you sailing back down the pit.

But knowing that confidence is something you can build upon, step by step, makes it feel so much more achievable. The path to confidence is not an elevator ride straight to the top. It is a slow-escalator ride, that perhaps does a little reverse every once in a while.

Little bursts of confidence then tap into that self-efficacy thing we talked about a minute ago. A positive cycle emerges…

 

4. Confidence is global.

Truly confident people feel confident in all situations.

If you believe that, then you’ve got a case of mistaken identity, like when you confuse actors who resemble each other or mix up the plots of two similar stories.

As in the point made in #3, truly confident people do not feel confident in all situations. But they accept themselves in all situations. They have a worth that is not threatened by holding their hand up and saying “I’m out of my depth here”.Confidence doesn’t mean being the best. It means being okay with not being good at something at all – and still feeling good about yourself. Its about knowing what is important for you to care about, and what isn’t. 

 

4. Confidence is arrogant.

Wrong answer. Arrogance is arrogance. Conceit is conceit. Confidence is neither of these things.

Confidence is an acceptance of yourself, as you are. It is the willingness to try, even when you may fail. It is being okay with the fact that you are flawed but not letting those flaws stand in the way of your happiness. It means not letting your flaws dictate how you feel about yourself, and maybe even celebrating some of your failures as wonderful learning experiences.

Confidence is also accepting that other people are flawed too, and that their flaws do not determine their worth or abilities.

Confident people make other people feel good about themselves just being around them. Boastful, egoistic and narcissistic people who appear confident, but annoy and intimidate other people, actually exemplify non-confidence in its most complicated form. Those elaborate defense mechanisms merely masque a highly vulnerable and fragile sense of self-worth at the core. The most dangerous form of non-confidence, these people aren’t even aware of it.

Truly confident people have no need to belittle others because how they feel about themselves and their abilities has absolutely no dependence on the attributes of others.

 

5. I don’t deserve to feel confident.

I saved this one for last because it is one of the most influential beliefs that keep people down. It’s a huge issue and we really need to talk about it.

So I ‘m not going to.

Until next week!

In the mean time, you may want to prepare yourself for the road to confidence by what knowing what kind of fight you are in for and what kind of steps you can start taking now.