Inside the ADHD mind

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“I Got a Lot Done Today. So Why Do I Feel Like a Loser!”

One of the many criteria for adult ADHD is a personal sense of underachievement, regardless of how much you have accomplished. This goes beyond the normal parental insecurity we often feel because our kids aren’t simultaneously trilingual sports stars and Nobel prize winners running their own multi-billion dollar software company by the time they are eight. This criterion has more to do with an abject fear of failure because we didn’t meet our goals for the day, despite checking off most of them.

As an adult and father, I find myself giving sagacious advice to lift my girls’ spirits when they are down. Yet I fail to give myself the same advice when I am similarly discouraged. Maybe I was trained by years of failure and shame to have a permanent inferiority complex, but I haven’t been an embarrassed 15-year-old for almost 35 years.

There is a difference between making excuses versus identifying shortcomings. The difference comes down to responsibility. If we try to get out of it, we’re making excuses. If we try to identify the underlying faults while still taking responsibility, we’re being adults.

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Yet, as adults with ADHD, many of us can’t see how much we ignore the things we do accomplish while we focus on what we haven’t accomplished. I keep the following points in mind to defeat that sense of underachievement. I also adapt them as needed when my girls become discouraged.

[Read This Next: “The Other Impostor Syndrome”]

Updated on January 28, 2020