Adults with ADHD often suffer from low self-esteem. This may come from years of feeling inadequate or repeated failures. Throughout childhood you may have heard comments such as “stop fidgeting” or “can’t you ever pay attention?” or “you could do better if you just try” or maybe even “you’re stupid.” These comments, when heard over and over, tend to create our image of ourselves. After awhile, you begin not only to believe the comments but to tell yourself the same things every day.
These negative comments make us feel inadequate. Sometimes, we can create our own failing reality based on what we feel and what we tell ourselves. For example, when things go wrong in the morning, we may tell ourselves that it is a “terrible day.” As the day goes on and we continue to focus on everything that goes wrong, we repeat to ourselves what a rotten day it has been. We can, instead, accept that certain things will go wrong and move on, spending time to focus on what is going right and see the promise in the day. Our negative thoughts have created a “terrible” day instead of a “promising” day.
Just as our experiences reflect our current mood, our lives can be shaped by either the negative or positive things we tell ourselves. When we continue to barrage ourselves each day, we believe them and view ourselves in a negative way. When we change our outlook and view ourselves as competent adults, we will begin to see ourselves that way and will begin to react to the world with more confidence.
Changing the way you look at yourself takes practice and persistence. The results, however, are well worth it. According to some psychologists the process of changing your thought processes can take months. Although slow, you can begin to change the way you think, the way you view yourself and the way you view the world around you.
To begin the process, keep a notebook with you and keep track of the negative thoughts. Spend a few days just noticing how often you put yourself down.
Use a piece of paper and fold it down the middle. On one side, write down the negative comments you have made about yourself and on the other side, write down a positive comment to replace it. For example, if one of your comments to yourself was, “I can’t believe I lost my keys again, I am so stupid,” write it down and then right a replacement, such as, “I lost my keys again, I will begin to place my keys in the basket on the table as soon as I arrive home.” For each negative thought or comment, find a positive replacement.
Cut the paper in half and somehow get rid of the negative thought side. You can throw it out, use a black marker to cross each one out or any other way you feel is appropriate. As you do this, consciously think about how these thoughts will no longer have control over you. Keep the paper with the positive thoughts on it and read it to yourself several times each day.
Each day, complete the same process. Keep a tablet with you to write down your negative thoughts and then replace them with positive thoughts. Add your positive thoughts to those that you read to yourself each day.
As you continue with this process on a daily basis, you should be able to see a difference in the amount of negative thoughts you are writing down each day. If you do not see progress, you may need to read your positive thoughts more often each day. Remember, changing your views may take months, so don’t be discouraged. Continue with this process on a daily basis.
Keep in mind that it took you years and years of telling yourself negative things to get where you are today. You are not going to reverse this process in a matter of days. Be patient and keep working on it. One day you will notice that you have a better view or you, your life and the world around you.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.