ADHD and negative self appraisal

To have an inner critic is to be thoroughly human. To have an inner critic as a person with ADHD is almost a whole other experience entirely.

One of the greater challenges for those of us with ADHD is that our brains amplify negative self-talk coupled with a propensity to experience emotional hyperarousal.

These two key features of ADHD mean that we’re quick to judge and blame ourselves, and then get stuck in the painful feeling of that thinking. This experience is known as rumination - a persistent perspective and feeling of doom and gloom.

Why are we prone to this? The ADHD brain is wired for interest, constantly drawn to thinking and doing things that are stimulating. That means that we give our attention to the thing that shouts the loudest. Negative self talk and feelings of shame and inadequacy: these are loud “pick me” attention-fodder for our wandering and wondering brains.

When we believe the inner critic, when we take the critic’s narrative as advice, warnings, and ‘wisdom’, we’re limiting our chances at participating, succeeding, and enjoying life and work.

This means that one of our most useful work-ons is re-orienting our negative thinking and managing our big feelings, especially as we can feel deeply ashamed at this seemingly lack of self control.

Starting with awareness about ADHD, building a safety net for our thoughts, feelings and energy, and focusing on our strengths, we can begin to shift our focus away from what’s wrong with us to what’s right with us.

That’s why it's extra important we learn to obsess over our strengths.


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