Moira Maybin 00:00
Hey there, welcome back. Today we’re unpacking a few things, how we manage and what we say to ourselves when we are wanting, hoping, or waiting for things to be different. We’re also going to be considering how we can be a little bit kinder to ourselves, and a few ideas on how to move towards the life you want. Surprise, surprise, I ended up with more than I could share in one episode on this topic, so there’ll be more to come next week on acceptance. It’s not giving up or admitting we failed, far from it. For show notes, and more information on this topic, visit ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com.
Moira Maybin 00:39
Welcome to the ADHD friendly lifestyle, part of the ADHD reWired Podcast Network, the place to practice putting on our own oxygen mask so we can breathe and make it possible to show up in our own lives without guilt or shame. I’m your host, Moira Maybin a woman, Mom, educator, and I have late-diagnosed ADHD. Join me as we dive into the stories, adventures, and mishaps, all while trying to make sense of the published research that could make your tomorrow a more ADHD friendly day. We are in this together. And I’d love it if you would ask questions about what you want to know and make suggestions for future episodes. Sign up to be the first to hear what is going on at ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com– I promise no spam. You can also subscribe at Apple podcast or on the podcast player of your choice to this and all the other podcasts on the ADHD reWired Podcast Network. There’s ADHD reWired with Eric Tivers will Curb at Hacking your ADHD, Brendan Mahan hosts ADHD Essentials, and ADHD Diversified with MJ. Thanks for joining me today. There are things that I wish I had known about my ADHD sooner, and I want to share them with you. Stay tuned at the end of today’s episode, there’s a new feature, how to tell me you have ADHD, without actually telling me you have ADHD. Let’s get started.
Moira Maybin 02:11
I’m going on the premise that you are here listening to this podcast because you want to understand your ADHD, and how to have the life that you want. Shame gets in the way of this. When we experience shame, it limits how well we can deal with the challenges of ADHD. Shame shows up in how we see ourselves, our relationship with others and what we do in our daily lives, and how we think of and treat our ADHD. By naming and describing what our shame is like, then we contain it and move on to the things that we actually want to spend our time and attention on.
Moira Maybin 02:48
One of the things about having ADHD is how it or rather we are treated is often based on the medical system designed to cure or eliminate medical problems. In that type of setup, the implicit goal is to make ADHD go away. Well as a brain-based disorder, it can’t. What’s the problem doc? ADHD? We can’t get rid of it. Hmm, not too far of a leap then to conclude that we are the problem and we need to be fixed. We hear from early on in life, how we should be doing things and what we could be doing better. This idea of ADHD is reinforced in our popular culture. And when we struggle, we can blame, second guess, and distress ourselves very easily. Some of us deal with this by being people pleasers because when we help others, it helps us feel better about ourselves. See, really I am a good person. Sometimes we can feel like a fraud, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Surely someone is going to figure out that we don’t deserve to be here and send us on our way. We can find ourselves in shame spirals, a place of disappointment, grief, overwhelm, and we’ve even been known to crawl under the covers.
Moira Maybin 04:07
Those messages we internalize about how we are supposed to be are a big piece of how shame grows. Drs. Sari Solden and Michelle Frank have come up with the idea of brain shaming. To compare how in our society, we’ve dealt with brain differences similarly to the idea of body shaming. In both there’s an idealized version of how we are supposed to be and when we don’t live up to the standards for how we look, behave, or live for that matter, then we are the problem. We can feel deeply wounded and believe that we are not good enough.
Moira Maybin 04:43
We know that the media narrative about ADHD has long included simplistic stereotypes and incorrect information that doesn’t help us. We can often hold idealized views of neurotypical people too, that they get their to-do lists done, are on top of things, can juggle those balls, and make things happen. The expectations that we see around us lead many of us to both deeply believe and try to live up to impossible standards for anyone’s ability to multitask, organize, and manage distraction. For many of us, we also hold an idealized version of how we could be clutter-free, organized, calm, flexible, helpful, all ready at a moment’s notice, well-groomed, well dressed without any panic, overwhelm, frustration, anger, or numbness that we may not even be fully aware of, or acknowledge. When we take a step back and are curious about the images and messages around us, we can ask, are they based in reality,
Moira Maybin 05:51
We don’t realize that no one, neurotypical or otherwise, actually completes their to-do lists all the time, or even most of the time, there’s even less of a chance for some of us. If, like me, you actually have three lists, the one that’s in use, the one I’d like to get to in your head, and then the things that you’re hoping maybe to squeeze in are on a super-secret list. So we compare ourselves to an impossible and unrealistic standard, while also believing that we are not meeting the mark because it seems there’s always more and better we could do. It’s just one more way we’re falling short. And that’s how we arrive at our conclusion that we are flawed people.
Moira Maybin 06:39
The influence on us that these messages can have shows up in many ways, we can pretend to be doing better than we are, or feel too shameful to ask for help. So yeah, that means sometimes I have given up on and let things go that I really wanted to do. Another thing that I’ve done is to try and minimize or hide my need for help. This happened the other day, I’m still in rehab from back surgery, and I was pushing myself a bit too hard physically. And instead of making it clear to those that I was with that I really needed help. I told them that I would try and I want up and more pain and exhaustion, that I had been for weeks, not a smart move.
Moira Maybin 07:20
When we are having a harder time, many of us find it so hard to speak to our needs. We can go radio silent and withdraw, which robs us of the chance for the support that we deserve in the short term. It makes it harder to get a fulfilling life in the long run. Once we isolate ourselves from others, we can feel more lonely, lost, and miserable. But do we reach out? Or do we start telling ourselves stories about how hard that is, and how it could go wrong? We can get stuck and not know how to move forward or experience a lack of confidence.
Moira Maybin 07:53
Sometimes getting stuck means we need to grieve those missed experiences, or what could have been if we’d had the support, understanding environment, even knowledge of having ADHD, in order to be successful. How many of us have heard about our potential, if only we could blah, blah, blah. Being told we are not meeting our potential is another way of saying we aren’t good enough. For me what it actually meant most of the time was that it was having challenges with my ADHD that I didn’t know about, like just too much waiting for me to handle or becoming too easily distracted. And that decreased my capacity.
Moira Maybin 08:34
A lot of these happen at the same time. And then it chips away at who we think we are and what we do as we continue to believe that we are the problem. Okay, then, what if we double down on our effort to get on top of all the mundane tasks of daily living, deal with the burning issues? Things that are overdue, housework, groceries, meal preparation, child responsibilities, laundry, personal hygiene, reluctant kid personal hygiene, that’s not a fun one. Once we have this sorted, then we will spare time for the things that we really want to do. The things that fulfill us, work we love to do relationships, and pastimes. But does that time ever come? I have a friend who does make time for some enjoyable things. But then she’s scrambling because she’s late for the next thing her kids need to be fed her dog still needs a walk. Same coin, different side.
Moira Maybin 09:33
When we feel not good enough or broken our inner voice is critical and creates a lot of anxiety and depression. It’s only natural that we invent coping mechanisms. We want to protect ourselves from feeling sensitive, vulnerable and the tide of strong emotions. Getting defensive is one that I’ve used. And I recently realized using this process that I literally get louder when I’m feeling unheard or misunderstood. I used to get stuck in anger and at the root was frustration at things going wrong. Disappointment that I was either being misunderstood or I misunderstood something. Another coping strategy is perfectionism. If we do all these things perfectly, then we will be able to protect ourselves from pain. Except that’s not how life works. perfectionism is unattainable. And pain is unavoidable. Some people give up on perfection seems out of reach, and others dig deep and continue to try for the fantasy.
Moira Maybin 10:34
For many years, I held fast to a dream about one day being successful with reaching this mythical standard, and continued to measure my self-worth, and define myself based on this fact. And I couldn’t reach it. When we believe we are not worthy shame grows. Having ADHD does mean that organization, planning, time awareness, memory, and managing our emotional and physical self-care are challenges that we face. It does not help us to wish it was different, or spend any more time comparing ourselves to others. We are complex beings, made up of our lived experiences, and our various identities, including gender, race, color, age, size, shape, and our mental health. And all of these things are far too often stigmatized. The way out of our shame spirals is to understand and accept that our brains do work differently and this is one part of who we are. Drs. Sari Solden and Michelle Frank, talk about this as a humanistic approach, not allowing our difficulties to define who we are. We can challenge negative beliefs and thoughts about ourselves, by expanding our view of who we are to include each of us as a whole person.
Moira Maybin 12:03
When we can view ourselves as a whole person with attributes we appreciate, and dare I say even like, then the challenging parts of who we are become a little less loaded, a little less indicative of how we identify ourselves, then we can look at where and how we are struggling with kindness and compassion. What if you are curious about you? we are more than our ADHD. I have long thought of myself as someone who uses a strength-based approach. But even that leaves out part of who I am. The things that I’ve overcome and the challenges that I have faced, they shaped who I am and where I am in my life now. It has helped me determine what I value and hold worthy. There’s value in accepting and including all aspects of our lived experiences to include both what I am and what I am not. Even with challenges, it is okay. We are more than okay.
Moira Maybin 13:02
Our shame around ADHD is challenged by bringing it into the light. If we learn to name it, then we can tame it. Identifying our emotions, decreases distress and improves coping. We may need reminders that feelings are emotions, not facts, they arrive to tell us something. And changing our relationship to difficult emotions includes an awareness that they are information, not the truth. When we can be an observer of what we are feeling and saying to ourselves without judgment or shame, then we can accept what is true in our lives and start to heal from much of what has given us shame. This healing includes valuing or measuring success not by a decrease in symptoms, but in the ways in which we can develop a healthy relationship with our challenges and still lead fulfilling authentic lives.
Moira Maybin 13:54
We can notice how we are spending our time and what we are giving our attention to, if the direction we are heading in is the one we want, and start to wonder about what we could do to tweak things in our favor. I don’t know about you, but my general tendency was change is that old favorite, all or nothing, I can start with the idea that I need a clean sweep to clear everything off the table and start over again from scratch. We don’t actually have to do that. More often than not what could help might be a small change. For me, it can be reminders to take a breath or a post-it note on my computer that says in bold letters go outside. Because that is always where I feel calmer, more grounded, and happy just by going outside. But I forget all the time.
Moira Maybin 14:42
Old patterns can be entrenched, but we can start with kindness. I want to treat myself with the kindness and compassion that I would extend to others. I want to model to and for my loved ones, how I want to treat myself and them. We can decide to no longer beat up or judge ourselves negatively. You know the expression giving someone the benefit of the doubt? Trusting that our intentions are good, that there’s a reasonable explanation that may not be obvious why something or someone did something? Well, we can give that gift to ourselves. Maybe the story we’ve been telling ourselves is no longer true or was created with misinformation.
Moira Maybin 15:22
How many of you are saying Yeah, but right now? this can feel so uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and scary. True, but shame feels pretty crappy, too. We are all on different parts of our journey with ADHD. And that means different comfort levels with these ideas. I’m going back to the fact that you started this podcast, and hopefully, you’re still here. That means something, if it means you listened and are going to carry on with your day, that’s a start. We can’t unknow something. Well, if you have ADHD, you certainly can completely forget something. But what I mean is, if you’ve listened to this point, and you’ve been curious, that’s the beginning. If you want to just let it sit, I’d encourage you to do something to make a reminder for yourself, that at some point, you want to come back and listen to this again. For me, I’d need to bookmark my show notes page at ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com or get it written down, so it stays on a list verbally. Nothing’s going to happen. Goodbye idea.
Moira Maybin 16:35
Coping with shame and being curious about our thoughts, feelings, and actions is hard. There are a few ideas I will share now, and then next week, I’m going to devote the entire episode to more ways we can practice moving away from shame and towards acceptance. First, we have the right to prioritize ourselves, our dreams, our needs, and our abilities. Second, living successfully with ADHD does not mean looking like you don’t have it. The third one really helps with the other two. It’s having a community a support system, connections with others who share your identities.
Moira Maybin 17:13
When we don’t connect with others with ADHD, we can feel so alone. The ADHD community is welcoming, inclusive, funny, and kind. For sure, sometimes we miss things or don’t fully read or hear what you’re trying to communicate. But there is a power belonging to a group of people who get you where you don’t have to explain or apologize for your challenges. When I get stapled to the couch late in the evening, and no one else is awake in my house, I can find someone to tell that I’m not going to be able to get to bed because I’m stapled to the couch. Because I can guarantee you that at some point. There’s always someone with ADHD who is up and they will remind me to put one foot on the floor, then I’ll post that I did that. And it helps me get to bed. When we know other people who have ADHD, people who love and accept those with ADHD, and most importantly, people with ADHD who accept themselves. We get the chance to listen, observe and talk with each other about how we cope, manage and deal with our lives. We can find safe spaces with these people to practice being vulnerable, reaching out and letting them know how we would like to be supported. We also usually have a great laugh at our own expense. Things that bring us pain when we are immersed in shame can bring us laughter and togetherness when we see them as a characteristic that we share and not a moral failing. My fellow ADHD peeps are worth more to me than their weight in gold. And many I haven’t or may never meet face to face. I am slowly starting my social media for ADHD friendly lifestyle. But I do have a Facebook page all ready to go. Feel free to start or continue a conversation there. If you need more of what we are talking about, you can get it there.
Moira Maybin 19:09
Okay, you’ve done the hard work by staying to the end your reward. Here are the main takeaways from today’s episode.
- Shame shows up in how we see ourselves, our relationships with others, what we do in our daily lives and how we think of and treat our ADHD. There are many factors that influence this. These include a medical model with an emphasis on fixing problems, and many gender, cultural and societal expectations that combined with ADHD stereotypes can lead to internalized feelings of shame.
- The way out of our shame spirals is to understand and accept our brains do work differently, and that this is only one part of who we are, known as a humanistic approach. This means not allowing our difficulties to define us.
- We can challenge negative beliefs and thoughts about ourselves by expanding our view of who we are to include each of us as a whole person.
- Finding and connecting with other people who accept their own ADHD can help so we don’t feel alone, and some of the pain can be experienced as humor as shared character traits and not moral failings.
Moira Maybin 20:15
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s show. This is the place for the late-diagnosed women, moms professionals. Those who want to understand ADHD to be heard and know they’re not alone. We can have an ADHD friendly lifestyle that includes more time with our strengths and passions, less with our challenges, and have ways to adjust what and how we do things to suit us better and expand the ways and places that ADHD is understood and accepted.
Moira Maybin 20:17
I’d love to know your thoughts about today’s episode. There are lots of ways to get in touch. You can check out my website ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com, or comment below in this podcast. All questions will be anonymous, respected, and appreciated. And I can’t wait to continue this conversation with you. Please remember, I am not a doctor. The information presented in this podcast does not replace the individual recommendations from your health care providers.
Moira Maybin 21:12
You can help by subscribing to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle on Apple podcast, or the podcast player of your choice. You can also help spread the word by sharing the podcast with the people in your life. And by taking the time to rate and review. I am thrilled to be part of the ADHD reWired Podcast Network. Every week you can find new episodes of ADHD reWired with Eric Tivers, sharing interesting interviews and stories. Will Curb has amazing tips and insights at Hacking your ADHD. Brendon Mahan hosts ADHD Essentials, focusing on families, parents, and educators. And my fellow Canadian MJ hosts ADHD Diversified, diversifying the voices and experiences of ADHD and mental health. All of these podcasts including the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle are available to everyone, everywhere, podcasts are available.
Moira Maybin 22:07
You can join all of us at our live Q&A every second Tuesday of the month at 10:30 am. Pacific to ask us questions. Go to ADHD rewired.com/events and register. Stay tuned for the next episode as we work together to build our ADHD friendly lifestyles together. And now for a new feature inspired by the ADHD community and Tik Tok called, “Tell me you have ADHD without actually telling me you have ADHD”. Today we have–Yes, I was listening to you. I did hear you. I completely understand what you said….. 30 seconds later….. I have no clue what you just said to me. No memory whatsoever— If you want to tell me how you have ADHD without actually telling me you have ADHD, visit my Facebook page, and we can start our own thread there. Maybe you’ll hear yours in a future episode. Thanks for listening. See you later.