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.