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. 

Mindset

The Gift of Confidence with ADHD

Last post I disclosed that I am doing a series entirely dedicated to finding confidence in your ADD life. This is the next installment – where I will explain what I have to offer and why you should bother reading it.

 

I haven’t read every book out there written on ADHD. Since I have ADHD and likely so do you, I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you. I have read a lot, but only what would likely be tantamount to a mere drop in a literary bucket.

But what I have done is think about ADHD. A lot. In fact, I’ve thought about it for thirty plus years. Possibly even 35 years, but I can’t recall what I thought about before the age of five.

Of course I haven’t been thinking about the diagnosis of ADD since childhood, that would be sad and weird. I didn’t even know that I had ADD until later in adulthood. But even before I had a name for it, I knew ADD – I knew the experience of it intimately. So I am not exaggerating when I say, in the grand scheme of my inner contemplative world, I have thought about very little else for a great many years.

The wonderful thing is that now I am thriving with my ADHD, I think much less about it. The way that I used to think about it was, for lack of a better term, obsessive. Maybe ruminative actually. I was stuck in a world of self-involvement, though not the conceited kind. The same kind of obsession a mad-scientist has when he is on the verge of solving a major equation but hasn’t yet determined exactly the right variables for the formula.

My own ADHD is not such a conundrum anymore. I have been freed from the chains of rumination and self-analysis. Now I like to think about it in a way that is much more fun and exciting to me. I like to think about the way the other members of my tribe experience ADHD. And how I can help. I have been liberated from disability of ADHD. It no longer holds me back. In fact, ADHD has become my art. I can help make it your art too.

Of course, I am digressing here so let me get back to the original point. My thinking all these years has not been merely self-obsession. I have been obsessed with the concept of ADHD. What it means. What it feels like. What it’s all about. And (most importantly) how to feel good about having it despite a lifetime of feeling second-rate and inadequate.

Yeah, you heard me right… feel good about having ADD. We’ll get back to that in a minute.

So I have thought a lot about it. And I have read a lot about it. Before sitting down to write this it did cross my mind that I couldn’t possibly have anything to say about ADHD that hasn’t been said before. I probably don’t. Previously I have talked about how there are virtually no new ideas out there anymore (except for “wireless” hovercraft toilets, most useful for times of performing a bodily function and midway realizing you are without the appropriate tools – no one has thought of that yet).

What can I add to the world of knowledge and literature on the subject of ADD? My own perspective of it, that’s what. Nothing less, nothing more. Why should my little perspective on this huge issue matter to you? You don’t really know me. I haven’t told you much about who I am that would make my two-cents worth your time.

I also know how hard it is to read when you have ADD. I know how hard it is to find the time to read at all these days, for anyone. So I am hugely honoured that you have even made it through these first 650+ words, and maybe perhaps even some of my other posts on this blog. I am also highly conscious of the fact that I better give you a pretty solid sales-pitch right now if I am going to convince you to keep reading any further.

Why should my ADHD theories matter to you?

Because I am your biggest fan.

When you are a fan of something, a team or an artist, it means you like them. They mean something to you. You have made a personal choice to stand behind them, when times are good and bad. And you want them to do well.

I want you to do well. I want all ADDers to do well. They are my tribe. I found myself and where I belong when I discovered the true nature of my differences. That is what has made all the difference in my life – finding the team that I play for. So of course I want my team to do well. My “two-cents” is in reality a personal investment of the most valuable kind – I give over completely my head and my heart to support my team and help them do well. I write this for you, my teammate, my tribes-member, to help you do well too.

I spent the first half of my career helping people with depression, anxiety and other mental illness free themselves from those debilitations. A great deal of this work was centred on self-esteem and confidence. Now that I have found a new calling, I have reinvented my career and now dedicate it to coaching other ADDers through their challenges towards their place of confidence and success. My training, my coaching, my blog – are my contributions to that mission.

Which brings me back to the reading. I know you don’t have a lot of time. Your attention is a scarce commodity. I respect that about you. So I will cut to the chase right now with a caveat that will excuse you if you want to don’t want to invest anymore time.

This is, in some ways I suppose, a self-help blog. But not the kind permeates tactics and strategies for “overcoming” ADHD and becoming more “normal”. Strategies for self-improvement and gaining confidence are certainly explored, but not from a standpoint that negates how great you already are. If that’s what you want, I’ll tell you now you’ve got the wrong blog.

If, however, what you want right now is to find a new meaning to your life, to find some direction, build up your confidence and discover a new sense of worth and value that coexists with your ADHD – then you have found the right blog. This is what I am talking about. This is what I am all about. I don’t want you to relegate your ADD like some sort of cognitive cancer now in remission. I want you to rock it.

This is an existential journey into the depths of the collective ADHD conscious, searching for meaning, hope and acceptance. For it is in those realms that true freedom and mastery are born. True success with ADHD starts and ends with authentic self-worth. Put it this way: a low opinion of yourself won’t make your ADD any better and perhaps, makes it infinitely worse.  No strategy in the world will change your life if your head’s not going to change too. (Click to tweet)

Writing this series now, word by word, I will admit that I have no idea how deep this rabbit hole will go. But I am glad that you are coming on this journey with me.

 

 

Growth

Defeating Self-Doubt: Awakening the Warrior Within

This post isn’t for everyone. But if you battle low self-esteem, confidence or worth as a consequence of your ADHD – then this post is absolutely FOR YOU!

 

In her book Courage: Overcoming Fear & Igniting Self-Confidence, the author Debbie Ford instructs readers depleted in self-esteem to become warriors against the self-defeating forces within. At a glance her instruction may seem exaggerated or over-zealous, but as someone who has battled low self-esteem and helped countless others do the same, her advice is measured in just the right dose.

You will never win a battle against low self-esteem without going to war. And trust me when I say this, it is a war. Your opponent has been growing in strength in the hidden realms of your psyche since you were a small child. It has found ways to twist events in your life and suck them in as energy to feed itself. It continually finds ways to exploit your human flaws, and negate your strengths and achievements, rendering you an insignificant adversary. It is a cunning, formidable foe who deceives you into believing that its agenda is the only option available to you.

Most of all, it is sly. It lays dormant most of the time, whispering in your ear but not speaking so loudly as to bring attention to itself. It is noticeable when you look for it, like the beating of your heart, but does not make itself obvious. By this, it ensures its existence, like a parasite that drains energy from its host while inconspicuously ensuring the host does not notice its interference. But, but, but …. If you do notice it and decide to take action, this beast launches a surprise attack on you, assailing you with all its reserves. With every effort you make to strengthen your armour or to step up your tactics, it responds by upping the ante. At this point you feel helpless, defeated, resigned to the fact that it will always win. And so you give up the fight and remain a prisoner of war to self-loathing.

Like the parasite, self-reproach needs you to survive. You feed it unwittingly, and it grows in strength and control over you. But if you starve it, it dies.

And the worst part is, it’s all a delusion.

You’ve had the power all along. Like running away from a monster in a bad dream, all you need to do is wake up. Wake up to the beauties and talents and strengths you possess, the ones the monster told you were inconsequential or meaningless. Wake up to the power of who you are, and always were, when that monster was spinning fiction to serve its own gain. Wake up to your potential and who you can be, now that the monster is dead. It was the one who told you to feel bad about yourself. That feeling made you make certain choices in your life, then it turned those choices against you, using them as more evidence as to why you should feel bad about yourself.

Who are you now, without that delusion?

After all, the only thing that is stopping you from being as brilliant as you really are is that monster.

When you fight this devious self-esteem, you must imagine yourself as a warrior, like William Wallace in Braveheart. You will not give up your freedom. You will not give up the fight.

And every time you win, you grow stronger in force, and depth, and magnitude. Each time you let your light shine, you hug yourself from the inside, or your consciousness whispers encouragement to its subconscious, you grow into being your true self, the one who accepts who he or she is. Each time you accept yourself and live with the belief that you are perfectly whole, you fulfill your purpose in life to bring gifts to this world, sharing the energy and essence of who you are.

The battle starts now with one choice.

You must do whatever it takes to starve the monster and awaken the warrior within. The only other option is to be eaten alive by self-doubt.