Despite how incredibly obvious it is now, I didn't find out I had ADHD until I was 36. I actually thought my hyperfocus was proof I didn't have ADHD. 🤦♂️
I spent so many years blaming myself, not knowing there was a reason my actions never seemed to line up with my intentions.
No one around me understood either, so they told me I was just being too lazy or selfish or stupid.
Even though I never identified with those words (I would ask myself, am I really lazy?), over time they became a constant theme running through my head. I didn't have any other explanation for my weird quirks and behaviors, so they were a permanent fixture.
Whenever I would fail, I could hear an old teacher telling me about my wasted potential, a boss calling me lazy, or the voice of someone asking "what is wrong with you?!"
These negative words became my permanent soundtrack.
Even when I wasn't failing, they played in the background. A constant reminder that a new failure was right around the corner.
I've been reading about these constant themes that play in our heads in Jon Acuff's latest book, Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking. It's not specific to ADHD, but I'm finding it extremely applicable to the ADHD struggle.
Our soundtrack is often built on years and years of misguided negative reinforcement. A narrative based on misunderstanding, we've incorrectly labeled our symptoms as moral failings.
In addition, ADHDers often struggle with memory. Only those strongest moments stick, only the most negative things become permanent.
Compliments and successes fade away.
Victories Mix Tape
Knowing that our memory is going to fail us, we can be proactive about recording our victories and our wins. Take some time to think about any success you've had in the last year. It doesn't have to mean a success to anyone else, but what was a success for you?
What personally felt like a win to you? Things you are proud of. They don't have to be huge.
Make sure to add any compliments or nice things people have said about you. Write them down somewhere permanent you can refer back to. Create a recurring reminder to check in on your list.
You want to build up a soundtrack that can bring positivity and encouragement back to your daily life.
Replace that worn out negative soundtrack with your new victories mix tape.
Jesse J. Anderson
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