Managing Shame with ADHD

One of the subjects that comes up alot during my coaching sessions with my clients is shame. Shame is an emotion that can play a huge part in the lives of individuals with ADHD. When an individual with ADHD feels shame, they feel a huge sense of embarrassment and humiliation about who they are. And, the shame is not addressed, these feelings can prevent  a person to effectively learn to manage their ADHD. Here are some ways to deal with shame when you have ADHD.

Talk To A Good Friend/Family - Talking to a good friend/family member is one of the most help ways to overcoming shame. When you have a conversation about the experiences that cause you to feel shame, the friend or family members response can help you feel that you are not alone and you are human. Sharing your story can also help you keep your experience in perspective. Of course, it is important that you carefully choose the person you are going to share your shame experiences with. It needs to be someone who can stay focused on your experience, convey empathy, and not say something that would make you feel worse about what happened.

Write Out Your ADHD Shame Triggers - Overcoming shame involves becoming aware of what triggers you to feel shame. Think about the different experiences you have had that lead to you feel shame and think about what happened before you started feeling the shame. Some common shame topics can include: setting boundaries, saying no, asking for help or needing something, social situation/social skills.

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself - If you are finding yourself still feeling shameful when you think about different experiences from you past, think about how would you feel if that happened to a friend or family member? Would you feel as terrible about if a friend or family member were in the same situation. As adults with ADHD we tend to be more understanding and compassionate towards other people and are able to see their mistakes or embarrassing situations as signs that they are human.Counter your negative self-talk, by talking to yourself about your situation the way you would talk to someone else. This will help you be kinder, gentler, and more compassionate to yourself when you feel shame.

 Change Your Mindset - Unfortunately, for us ADDers it can be challenging to lift yourself up (particularly if you’re feeling really low or ashamed), but if you want to create compassion for yourself, you have to change your mindset. As an adult with ADHD, self-compassion started with changing my thoughts. I started focusing on the fact that my behavior was bad, not me. Once I started labeling behavior (instead of myself as whole), I was able to be kinder to myself and open up my mind to the possibility that I could make changes.

Talk and Think Kindly About Yourself - Words are incredibly powerful, and when you continuously tell yourself you’re unworthy, a mess, or unforgivable, you’ll soon start to believe it. I can’t tell you how long I used to call myself things like “crazy” or “out of control,” but once I started changing my words, stopping myself every time I wanted to laugh off my behavior with a negative label, I began having more compassion for myself.

Forgive yourself for your mistakes - We have all made mistakes, but not all of us forgive ourselves for them. Depending on the depth of the mistake, this can be a difficult task, and keep in mind that you can not go back. So the best thing to do is to forgive yourself and move forward Whenever I did something inappropriate, instead of shrugging it off or excusing my behavior, I started apologizing for it, both to others and to myself. Again, I focused on the fact that I wasn’t bad; it was my behavior that was.

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