An ADDitude reader recently wrote to me, “I was diagnosed with ADHD at 45 years old. I struggled with my ADHD through adolescence, and didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I had to take lots of mental tests in grade school, only to determine that I was higher functioning and ‘normal.’ My parents did not know that I had ADHD, and they struggled along with me. They punished me when I acted up or seemed defiant. This left me with mental scars and low self-esteem. I lack confidence. That affects me at the job and in social relationships. Can you give me tips and strategies to help me feel more positive about myself?”
You have struggled for a long time, which was made ever harder by the fact that you were unaware of what you were struggling against. Being blamed and punished for something you didn’t understand made matters worse. I commend you for wanting to address the challenges that are adversely affecting your work performance and social relationships.
Many people who had similar experiences as children have found relief in therapy. They discuss and explore hurts from the past that affect them as adults. It’s a journey worth taking. When you are ready, I suggest you explore this option. As an ADHD coach, I feel that a strengths-based approach will help you feel better about yourself. But first, I need more information.
You told me about what’s wrong with you and your life. If you want to feel better about yourself, let’s explore the other side. What’s right about your life?
To find out, take out your notebook, or open a document on your computer, and title it “Strengths.” Spend at least 30 minutes answering these questions:
1. What do people say you are really good at?
2. What activity gives you energy?
3. What’s working in your life?
4. What do you think you’re good at?
5. What do you enjoy doing?
6. What’s important to you?
7. What are you looking forward to in the next two to three weeks?
8. What are you proud of?