Self-compassion and ADHD don’t always come together easily BUT treating ourselves better, when we have ADHD, improves motivation, problem-solving, persistence, and getting along with others. There are proven ideas, actions, and strategies just for people with ADHD whose biggest consistency may be inconsistency, will make mistakes, and are more than likely listening to this with a heavy dose of skepticism. Self-compassion helps with stress, self-criticism, and living with an ADHD brain.
growing our self-compassion helps people with ADHD improve:
- their self-worth
- ability to interact with others’
- motivation, persistence, and problem-solving.
- self-compassion is important because we can’t get rid of all stress
- we can use self-compassion to mitigate stress and determine when we need to give ourselves support
- Some stress is good for growth and resiliency
our self-perception can be off resulting in:
- self-criticism, self-judgment, and diminishing our own accomplishments.
- Self-compassion is key to changing negative self-images, and thoughts.
- ADHD, and its neurobiological impact, affect our moods, emotion, and ability to manage everything.
When we can understand and recognize compassion:
- Helps us realize we are not broken,
- we are one step closer to dealing with challenges without causing more distress in our lives.
- There are strategies and ways to help with our moods, all stories, habits, and patterns that don’t help us anymore.
- And we’re going to be talking about growing self-compassion over the next few episodes.
- We will also prepare for how to be compassionate when not if we forget all of this and find ourselves back in a familiar less than helpful place.
Moira Maybin 00:05
Having compassion for ourselves is not always easy to do. But would you be willing to consider growing your self-compassion? If you knew that it could result in improving both how you feel about yourself and your motivation? What about improving your ability to problem solve, or persist with challenges? These things become possible when we can be self-compassionate. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that if we love ourselves, then everything will be alright. But we live in a society that appreciates the school of hard knocks, blood, sweat, and tears. I’m saying there’s another way. And if you have ADHD, self-compassion is a foundational piece, especially self-compassion that is ADHD friendly. There are proven ideas, actions, and strategies for people with ADHD. People like us who can have a lousy track record at something will make mistakes. And more than likely be listening to this with a heavy dose of skepticism. How you ask? We reconsider what we know about ourselves and our ADHD, and explore how trying some small changes or having a different perspective might help us. We also need to know how to be compassionate for when Yes, when not if we forget all of this and find ourselves back in the familiar less than helpful place. This is a topic we are going to unpack over a few episodes. And today we’re going to be talking about how important self-compassion is to deal with stress, our self misperceptions, and living with an ADHD brain. For show notes and more information on this topic, visit ADHD friendly lifestyle.com.
Moira Maybin 01:38
Welcome to the ADHD friendly lifestyle. This is 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. I suspect many of us have asked the same questions I did. Why is life so hard? Why does it seem easier for literally everyone else? There are things that I wish I had known about my ADHD sooner that are allowing me to make different decisions to make my life better and more ADHD friendly. And I want to share them with you. I finally understand that to live well my lifestyle is not negotiable. It has to work for me. It has to be healthy. And Yep, it’s got to be ADHD friendly.
Moira Maybin 02:40
I want to thank you for choosing this podcast. It’s a labor of love for me and I have been so touched by the emails and reviews, sharing how my words are helping you. Please take the time to review, share and subscribe to the podcast on the player of your choice. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.
Moira Maybin 02:58
Okay, now let’s get started I want to have an ADHD friendly life that is mindful and authentic so I can integrate my priorities in a sustainable way. In Episode Two, I shared a way to get yourself on your own list by looking into what stresses are in your life, and how they could be reduced or eliminated. I have tried for so long to reduce stressors, but couldn’t do it in a way, that gave me a lasting sense of internal calm and peace. Can we please just have a few things be not so hard, maybe easier, or feel less stressed? That would be compassionate, right?
Moira Maybin 04:55
Stress never seems to go away very far, in my experience, feeling perpetually stressed, isn’t healthy. So I wanted to think about how self-compassion could reduce stress. But even if I find ways to get rid of some, ask for help, and minimize others, there will always be stress, especially when some of those stressors are things that we also love. What if we accept that some things in our life will be more challenging than others? Stop fighting that and instead of trying to get rid of it, we try to mitigate the stress, then we can stop banging our head against the wall, looking for ways to have a stress-free life. Hear me out. mitigating means we try to make stress less severe, serious, or painful. That’s helpful, right? HWhen I began to look at how to lessen the impact of stressful things, not get rid of them, that shift of perspective, actually really change things. If I have an activity or event that I know taxes me, I mitigate that by planning to be more rested, or in a good headspace before. And sometimes I also plan something good for after too. It can be taking a few minutes by myself, talking, or texting with someone with who I share a laugh with. Or even those things we consider guilty pleasures. Sometimes, if we have 30 minutes for some Netflix or YouTube, or even going outside, it can help us reset. Especially if we know that we’ve planned for it. And including that time in our day. They’re not stolen time. And I found myself less likely to get stuck.
Moira Maybin 06:25
I’ve also found that when I go outside in the spring, I will invariably end up poking around in the garden, get dirty, and then I have to consider what I’m wearing. And how quick that trip outside is. Yesterday, my five-minute yard wander required 10 minutes of cleaning up dirt off of me, my clothes, and my floor where I tracked in the dirt by accident. If I left it, future me would be so mad at stepping in it and making my socks dirty, that I had to clean it up for her. All of this awareness comes from a place of self-compassion.
Moira Maybin 06:55
The more we consider our needs, we improve our overall capacity and ability. And we don’t drain ourselves so fast either. We can learn to use things we like to mitigate stress. I don’t know about you, but being able to permit myself to actually do the things I like to do before or after hard things, sounds and feels pretty damn good. It’s compassionate to also realize that sometimes we do need to challenge or push for change. Not all stress is bad. We do need some challenges in our lives. So we can grow and recognize that we are resilient and can deal with life’s challenges. Eric Tivers of ADHD reWired talks about how we can do hard things. Yep, that’s true. Even for those of us who are taking refuge under the covers, we have done hard things we just make forget it or be unable to recognize it. You can’t have ADHD and not have done a lot of hard things. Brendan Mahan of ADHD Essentials refers to it as playing life on hard mode. Agreed.
Moira Maybin 07:58
Okay, I wonder how many of us are now thinking, hold on, she was going to talk about how to be more compassionate. And now she’s telling us that we need to be able to handle the stress in our lives, not get rid of it. Here’s the thing with that, stress and compassion are a double-edged sword. What we do with that knowledge that some stress is helpful, and how we handle stress and struggle is key. Given that some stress is good to help us with resilience. Here’s my take as a woman, parent of neurodiverse kids, wife, teacher, daughter, and pandemic survivor, trying harder has been my number one strategy for close to 50 years. The countless times I’ve had to pick myself up when I fell or got knocked down prove that I am resilient and can persist with a challenge. I’ve even kept going up to three burnouts and falling off the 50-foot cliff in 2018. The mental effort that it is taken to compensate, hide my struggles, and try to keep up with everyday life has got to be too much. My almost lifelong eating disorder is largely attributed as a coping mechanism for my undiagnosed, untreated ADHD. I’m exhausted by the struggle and not only do I not want to struggle anymore, I can’t and I won’t do it anymore. I am going through perimenopause as well for crying out loud. If I knew someone with only one or two of these going on, I would feel empathy and compassion for them. How many do you check off?
Moira Maybin 9:22
If you have ADHD that is more than enough to not only try to mitigate the stress in our lives, be thoughtful, and decided in what challenges we take on, but also to give ourselves the gift of compassion. Our world needs more of it. And we can start with ourselves if you still aren’t convinced, research shows that when you have ADHD and self-compassion, it improves motivation and self-confidence. It also positively changes how we interact with others, our problem solving and persistence.
Moira Maybin 9:58
Developing our self-compassion is especially important to buffer and offset the messages we have or experience will we have ADHD, especially late-diagnosed ADHD, when we spent years trying to figure out how we fit in the world with limited or incorrect information about ourselves and our brain. Research shows that preschoolers with ADHD typically receive one statement of praise for every three corrective directions. That’s just sad. psychiatrists Dr. William Dodson estimates that by the age of 12, children with ADHD receive 20,000 more negative messages from parents, teachers, and other adults than their peers who do not have ADHD. It is no stretch of the imagination that in trying to deal with these messages, people with ADHD become pretty self-critical. These thoughts, emotions, past failures and pain, all influence how we move through the world and can lead to confusion. As we try to make sense of how and why we keep getting things wrong. We naturally tend towards trying to figure out how to protect ourselves from repeating these experiences. It limits our ability to pick ourselves back up, dust ourselves off without self-criticism or judgment. Clearly, we are the problem, right? I must have screwed it up again, I certainly will given half a chance. Some of us don’t pick ourselves up. Others do. But either way, our inner critic can become pretty harsh and sometimes so stealthy. We don’t even recognize that it’s there. That doesn’t sound very self-compassionate does it?
Moira Maybin 11:30
Even when we are successful, we’re limited in our abilities to recognize that too. In early 2020, in the before times, I gave a presentation to a group of educators on what life and school are like with unrecognized or untreated ADHD. I texted a friend that I before that I was putting in a lot of time and effort getting ready, probably too much. And that I needed to remind myself that I would do fine and to stop over-preparing. I gave the talk. And at the end, there are many questions. People want to connect with me for some more information. Some even hug me for putting into words, either their own or the experiences of their loved ones. And there may have been some tears. Afterward, my friend messaged me, “You did great. Told you! so very relatable, vivid, with context and practical to do’s It was very empowering.” My response, “Thank you. All I got from that was I talked a lot.” Yep, no shit, Sherlock, you’re giving a presentation, it’s kind of expected you will talk a lot. This time, I was able to pause and notice the vast difference between our takes on my presentation. And I was able to see so clearly a few things that are often true for a lot of us. We’re notorious for sucking at being able to accurately self-assess, we are overly self-critical and routinely minimize or don’t even recognize our strengths, gifts, and accomplishments. So I made a choice on February 21, 2020, I made the choice to believe my friend, I made the choice to take in her compliments and not to brush them off. In fact, I called her and we discussed how differently we had experienced my talk, I was able to expand my perspective to include hers and to put less weight on my own.
Moira Maybin 13:16
When we inaccurately view our abilities and our accomplishments, not only can we be self-critical, we lose an opportunity to help ourselves to build self-compassion, motivation, and persistence. When people do something successfully, pleasure reward chemicals are released in their brains. But when you have ADHD, it’s different in at least two ways. We have less of that pleasant or successful feeling. And it doesn’t last as long. So the positive messages and feelings are arriving in our brain in a more muted fashion. And they are soon a distant memory that we can’t call upon in the future to help us do the thing again. That knowledge combined with our ability to descend into self-judgment of just about anything, our jobs, our parenting skills, our looks, our body size and shape, relationships, financial status, you name it, we could tell you how we suck at it means that we need other ways external to us to check whether or not our perspectives are balanced. I have trusted people that when I need to, and sometimes I do, I can check in about my thinking or take on a situation. I also need ways to challenge and remind myself that my typical stories in my head are not true. For example, I have given many presentations before, and I’ve never completely messed one up. So part of having self-compassion means knowing ourselves, and knowing what we are good at, and being honest about facing up to the truth about ourselves, warts and all. No one is all good or all bad. And what helps us is having trusted ways to consider what we say and do. What helped my self-compassion most of all, is the recognition that our inner critic would do best to just fuck right off. Will I make mistakes? Probably, definitely. When we are self-compassionate, it makes it easier to recognize when we do need to fix, and that we can learn from that experience in ways that don’t damage our self-worth, or define who we are.
Moira Maybin 15: 20
ADHD is a performance disorder. We know what we want or need to do, but can struggle to actually do it, even if we’ve done it before, or want to do it. How many of us could read a book on a topic we know inside and out, but struggled to actually do? that’s given us more than ample experience at falling short, our actions not corresponding to our goals or intentions. It can be so confusing. What does this say about who we are, especially if we get that message from others that we need to try harder, do more, sort ourselves out? What if you either agree with that or are at a total loss of what else to do?
Moira Maybin 16:00
This is how ADHD affects our health routines. And our health routines affect our emotions. Our inner world impacts how we manage our life, our responsibilities, our time, and our dreams. But we aren’t broken and we don’t need fixing. We have neurochemistry that impacts our moods. Doubly so if you have a monthly female hormonal cycle, if we don’t remember this regularly, that our moods are strongly linked to our neurochemistry, then we do what we’ve always done before. We look to what we said, did thought, or didn’t do to try and explain it. It was what I ate or didn’t exercise enough or I’m a bad friend. When we accept our neurodiversity means we are not broken or a bad person, then we can move towards responding to our lives in a way that doesn’t harm us but helps. When we can focus on healing, not curing. There are strategies and ways to help regulate our brain chemistry that is far easier than changing a misperceived moral flaw. And that includes restoring our sense of self to one that embraces all of who we are. And that is the very essence of self-compassion.
Moira Maybin 17:10
This might mean changing our relationship to difficult emotions and healing from much of what has hurt us in the past. Then it’s developing an ability to understand and be aware of our frustrations and hurdles and how we respond to them, while also finding ways to limit their impact on our lives. Sometimes the ADHD wins. By its very nature, it trips us up and gets in our way. That’s not our fault. It’s the result of a brain-based neurological medical condition. Did I make that clear enough? This is not to limit us from having and doing the things we want or need to do. But to let us off the hook from taking responsibility when we mess up. It’s to help us avoid blaming ourselves with overly harsh critical self-perceptions. Sometimes we do need to make changes to how we are doing things that are not working for us or anyone else around us. Change doesn’t come from flogging ourselves. It comes from having a space within us that is free of judgment, and feeling safe enough to experience and respond to frustrations and failures with kindness and care. I hope by now you were well and truly convinced about why we can and should be compassionate to ourselves. In upcoming episodes, we will spend more time considering how we can be more compassionate to ourselves with special appearances from our old friends and stories. Perfectionism, shame spirals overwhelm, I don’t want to it’ll never work. Social media society at large. And my personal favorite. What happens when I forget to be compassionate? Yes, you heard me right again. It’s not us. But when speaking of when not if I know that it’s time to get back to talking about good old female hormones. That barrel of laughs I can’t get enough of it. Worry not the second What about hormones will be coming your way very soon.
Moira Maybin 19:00
Okay, you’ve done the hard work by staying to the end your reward. Here are the main takeaways from today’s episode. Number one. growing our self-compassion helps people with ADHD improve their self-worth ability to interact with others’ motivation, persistence, and problem-solving. Number two, self-compassion is important because you can’t get rid of all stress, we can use self-compassion to mitigate stress. And it can help us determine with some stress is good for growth and resiliency, and when we need to give ourselves support. Number three, our self-perception can be off resulting in self-criticism, self-judgment, and diminishing our own accomplishments. Self-compassion is key in the process of changing negative self-images, thoughts. Number four, ADHD, and its neurobiological impact affects our moods, emotion, and ability to manage everything. When we can understand and recognize compassion, this does not mean we are broken, we are one step closer to dealing with challenges without causing more distress in our lives. There are strategies and ways to help with our moods, all stories, habits, and patterns that don’t help us anymore. And we’re going to be talking about growing self-compassion over the next few episodes. We will also prepare for how to be compassionate when not if we forget all of this and find ourselves back in a familiar less than helpful place.
Moira Maybin 20:34
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s show. This is the place for the late-diagnosed women professionals. Those who want to understand ADHD to be heard and know they are not alone. We can have an ADHD friendly lifestyle that includes more time with our strength and passion, less with our challenges as 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. I’d love to know your thoughts about today’s episodes. There are lots of ways to get in touch. You can check out my website, ADHD friendly lifestyle.com, or comment below on the podcast. All questions will be anonymous, respected, and appreciated. And I can’t wait to continue this conversation with you. Please remember, I’m not a doctor. The information presented in this podcast does not replace the individual recommendations from your health care providers. You can help by subscribing to the ADHD friends lifestyle on Apple podcasts, 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. And now for tell me you have ADHD without actually telling me you have ADHD. Family moving around, so when we exhausted from their workweek single parenting, taking a course to look good, I had to move all my living room furniture around before settling down. So I didn’t have to tilt my head to watch the TV. So I wouldn’t have to see the math behind my new turn so far. Amazing for the energy comes from and then I am done. If you want to tell me you have ADHD without actually telling me you have ADHD, visit my Facebook page and continue the thread there. Maybe we’ll hear yours on a future episode.
Stay tuned for the next episode, as we work together to build our ADHD friendly lifestyle.
Thanks for listening. See you later.