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

Seven Ways to Kick Chronic Self-Doubt in the Face

Everyone doubts themselves now and then. A moderate dose of doubt can be good for a person, as long as it doesn’t take over. However, the effects of growing up in an environment (i.e. school) whose infrastructure is in direct conflict with the way many an ADD brain works, make it not uncommon for ADDers to doubt their abilities and suffer low self-esteem because of these doubts.

The problem lies in the fact that many ADDers have come to conclusions about themselves that are not as true as they believe them to be. They may see themselves as stupid, incompetent or incapable of learning. They may believe themselves to be obnoxious, unruly, or just plain bad. These kinds of labels do nothing to help an ADDer “perform” better, and in fact can be debilitating. Never mind the fact that they are just plain wrong.

The problem is, these negative self-beliefs have become so ingrained by the time a person reaches adulthood, it feels impossible to shake them. It is at these times that you must go to war with your negative self. The steps to fighting it aren’t easy, but then again – neither is feeling bad about yourself.

 

1. Declare war

Decide right now that you will no longer submit to totalitarian rule and plan your coup against the “authority” that tells you can’t do it:

 

Until you declare outright war, you will never be sovereign from a limiting view of yourself. (Click to tweet)

 

2. Name your opponent

Imagine self-doubt (substitute self-loathing, self-criticism, low confidence) as a tangible opponent. Give it a face, a body and a name if possible. What would it look like or sound like? I see mine as Goliath, much larger and uglier than me, his arms are big and his voice is booming but he is Neanderthal-esque. He’s a brute but an idiot. I can be smarter than him. Know who it is you are fighting.

 

3. Get in the ring

Your opponent expects you to back down. Surprise him with hand-to-hand combat. This starts with a decision that no matter what that inner voice of treason tells you, you will swing your bat at every ball. Start by simply saying “No, I will not listen to you.”

 

 

4. Bring out the big guns

Daily affirmations and letters of gratitude may help when you’re feeling a bit low on yourself, but when your self-esteem has launched a full-blown assaultive, you need heavy artillery to win the battle. Decide that with each blow that inner voice delivers, you will throw a bigger punch. Bigger punches come in three different forms:

A. The lefthook: Undermine self-doubt by focusing on every piece of evidence that contradicts it, no matter how small that piece of evidence may seem. This means tit for tat. If you notice self-doubt telling you can’t do something or aren’t good enough, then you must deliberately look for evidence that says you can and are good enough. Every piece of evidence counts. If, at the beginning, your mind can’t focus on what’s good about you, then try a reverse tactic – focus on why your negative views are wrong.

B. The uppercut: If you can’t generate your own evidence, turn to others who can. What would your closest family member or best friend say about the negative thought you are having about yourself? If you can, seek out their advice directly. If the people in your life don’t know how to be supportive, think about what a trusted expert in the field of ADD or someone else you admire might say.

C. The low blow: Find the Achilles heal. Every point of view is just a view, a negative one is no more correct than a positive one. It only feels like it is because you have learned to judge yourself against faulty standards that tell you that you are wrong or not good enough. Find holes in the standards that fuel your low opinion of yourself. Are the standards too black and white? Do you apply these standards only to yourself and not other people? Do your views neglect key pieces of information? Is there another way of looking at things?

 

5. Change your tactics

In “How David Beats Goliath”, Malcolm Gladwell points out that the underdog actually has a bigger advantage than the titan when he employs unconventional tactics. David brought Goliath down with one stone. Think carefully about one thing in your life you could change. That thing might be the stone to throw your self-doubt off its feet. You may need to start doing something small that will give you even one more ounce confidence. Ounces added to ounces make up gallons, eventually. Think of yourself as a learner, rather than a master. Failure is okay, because each failure teaches you something. After all, “an ounce of action is worth a ton of theory. Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions.”(Ralph Waldo Emerson).

 

 

6. Strengthen your defenses

Get busy, surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Banish negative thoughts with the one thing they can’t argue with: the law of averages says that repeated efforts are those most likely to bring about success. Give yourself every opportunity to succeed starting with small efforts. Don’t allow that voice to negate your efforts by telling you small successes don’t count. Lots of little things contribute to the big picture.

7. Declare victory, but keep your guard up

Self-doubt never goes away completely, but you can quiet it significantly by closing the door on it, and being mindful when it starts to creep up again. Watch for it, but don’t let it in the door. A bouncer at a nightclub has the authority to decided who does or doesn’t get into the club. If someone looks like they are up for causing a bit of trouble, a bouncer doesn’t let him in and then wait to see if he’ll cause trouble. He knows it’s much easier to keep a trouble maker out in the first place than to try and get him out later. Guard your mind like a bouncer.

The war on chronic self-doubt can be an epic one, but the more battles you win, the more you stand the chance of claiming victory and ending the war.

The most important thing is that you never give up.

Share you strategies for overcoming self-doubt in the comments below!