How To Love Yourself - And Your ADHD

5 Tips & Strategies To Fall in Love With Your ADHD Brain

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” — Oscar Wilde

Navigating the world with ADHD can be difficult. The journey is often marred by unique and often misunderstood challenges, like difficulties with emotional regulation or issues with task management.

Yet, people with ADHD also have strengths that, when recognized and embraced, allow them to shimmer and shine brightly.

For example, folks with ADHD are often able to become experts in areas they’re passionate about. Their distinctive sense of humor can bring laughter when least expected. Their capacity to excel under pressure, deep empathy for others, and myriad other characteristics all allow them to stand out in their unique way.

How do you love yourself with ADHD? Here are five tips for embracing self-love.

An important note: For those who are actively struggling with ADHD, it may be challenging to view ADHD in a positive light. That's completely understandable. This article will remain available for whenever you feel ready to explore these perspectives.

Learning to Love Yourself: Identify Your ADHD Strengths

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” — Dolly Parton

Because of unique neurodiverse brain wiring, people with ADHD tend to have certain strong suits. Common ADHD strengths include:

🎨 Heightened Creativity

People with ADHD can often make unique, unconventional connections between ideas.

This ability to think outside the box and view the world through a different lens leads to innovative solutions and creative expressions that might not occur to neurotypical individuals.

🔬 Hyper-focus

Individuals with ADHD can enter states of intense concentration and focus, especially on tasks or subjects that capture their interest or curiosity.

Hyper-focus enables folks to explore topics in-depth, often resulting in remarkable productivity. As a result, many with ADHD swiftly evolve into subject matter experts in areas they are passionate about.

❤️‍🩹 Resilience and Persistence

Though the research is mixed, certain studies suggest that neurodiverse individuals, including those with ADHD, might exhibit greater resilience compared to their neurotypical counterparts.

Facing a world not designed for their unique thought processes presents numerous hurdles to those with ADHD. However, this very adversity may foster a heightened level of resilience and perseverance, and enable them to overcome obstacles and adapt to change.

😆 Unique Sense of Humor

One hallmark of ADHD is a distinct, often quirky sense of humor. The ability to see situations from unique angles allows for finding humor in surprising places. This trait is a bonus from the creative and divergent thinking characteristic of ADHD.

👩‍🚒 Excellent Crisis Management

Neurodiverse individuals, including those with ADHD, often excel at problem-solving under pressure, particularly in crisis. Folks with ADHD are often able to remain calm, think critically, and implement effective solutions when the heat is on because urgency increases dopamine in the brain.

💞 Increased Levels of Empathy

While some folks with ADHD may experience challenges in understanding social cues and norms, many may also possess a deep sense of empathy and compassion for others. Their tendency towards more creative thinking allows them to more easily put themselves in others’ shoes and see the world from different perspectives. People with ADHD can often make insightful and supportive friends, partners, and caregivers.

🧩 Puzzle-solving Skills

Individuals with adult ADHD often have a keen eye for detail and an uncanny knack for pattern recognition. This may manifest in performance during puzzle-solving activities, such as logic puzzles, riddles, and complex games.

These examples spotlight just a few of the strengths associated with ADHD. The intention of sharing isn't to diminish or compensate for the real challenges people with ADHD face. Rather, recognizing and embracing where you excel can be beneficial in your journey of learning to love yourself with ADHD. Appreciating your ADHD brain will make you more acutely and actively aware of how your ADHD-related strengths make you special.

Embrace Your ADHD: Reframe ADHD Challenges With Mirror Traits

“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” — Louise Hay

Dr. Ned Hallowell, one of the leading experts on ADHD, says it’s important to “remind yourself of the positive sides of the negative symptoms associated with ADD. By recognizing the mirror traits, you avoid the ravages of shame and fear.”

Mirror traits are the positive complements to the negative versions of each trait. For example, rather than call oneself ‘stubborn,’ a positive mirror trait would be ‘persistent.’

To get started, try recording any negative thoughts you have about yourself or your ADHD for a week. At the end of the week, go through each of the negative thoughts and rewrite it with the reframed positive mirror trait instead.

In the future, anytime you notice a negative thought come up, practice pausing and reframing it with the positive mirror trait. Embracing the negatives as hidden positives is an important step to learning how to love yourself with ADHD.

Or, use a more structured reframing worksheet to challenge negative thoughts.

Protect Your Peace: Advocate for Your ADHD Needs and Boundaries

“When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” — Paulo Coelho

Individuals with ADHD often face criticism, leading to a pattern of overcompensating and ignoring their own needs in order to please others. Self-advocacy is a crucial part of learning to love yourself, as it enables you to express your needs and set boundaries, thus preventing burnout and reinforcing self-worth. By advocating for yourself, you not only protect your emotional well-being; you also teach others to value and respect your unique ADHD-related challenges and contributions.

Moreover, advocating for oneself and setting boundaries is a profound act of self-love.

Boundaries serve as protective barriers, signaling what folks value and demand respect for. By establishing and enforcing boundaries, individuals with ADHD demonstrate self-worth, affirming the importance of their time, energy, and emotions. This not only benefits the individual but also educates others on the importance of mutual respect and understanding.

“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” ― Rupi Kaur

That said, it can be difficult to know what to say when you’re not used to advocating for yourself. Here are some great go-to examples for setting or maintaining your boundaries, though you may also find it more helpful to select more situation-specific phrases to employ to set boundaries.

14 Phrases You Can Use to Establish Boundaries

  1. “I’m not comfortable with that.”
  2. “That’s not acceptable.”
  3. “Please don’t do that again.”
  4. “That won’t work for me.”
  5. “I need more of/less of ______”
  6. “That’s not up for discussion.”
  7. “I’m not obligated to explain myself to you.”
  8. “I disagree with that approach/assessment.”
  9. “I appreciate hearing your opinion, but I’m not prepared to change my mind on this”
  10. “I know I said yes, but I had not considered the other things I have going on. I can’t add anything else to my task list.”
  11. “I’m feeling overwhelmed right now, so it’s hard for me to focus on your feedback. I would like to take a break and discuss this later.”
  12. “I understand how you feel. But right now it’s time to talk about how I feel.”
  13. “While I appreciate your advice, I’m going to try something else.”

Find Community: Join an ADHD Support Group

Finding and joining an ADHD support group can be validating, especially when you can so intimately relate to the struggles other people with ADHD face. Additionally, other folks with ADHD often have some of the most helpful and creative solutions - because they can empathize with your situation.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few great ADHD support groups, forums, and online communities to check out:

CHADD Affiliates

ADDA Support Groups

The Mighty - ADHD

10 ADD/ADHD Blogs and Forums

r/ADHD on Reddit

How To ADHD on Facebook

Shimmer ADHD Coaching

Celebrate Your Wins: Keep a Success Journal

People with ADHD tend to spend more than enough time hearing about their faults and failures - from others and themselves. While acknowledging ADHD-related challenges is an important part of growth and learning, it’s just as important to take stock of ADHD wins. The brain is incredibly good at pointing out the negatives; the positives, though, are more easily overlooked.

Keeping a success journal is one way to actively practice self-love with ADHD - and, ultimately, have a much more accurate and balanced picture of where you stand. Here’s how to get started.

  1. Set up Your Journal: Decide whether to keep your success journal digitally or physically. Then, choose whatever format feels most comfortable and accessible to you. If you find that writing out your thoughts feels too vague or general, you may decide to choose to track just a few types of ‘wins’ and create a checklist for them.
  2. Set Aside Time: Dedicate a few minutes each day or week to reflect on your successes and record them in your journal. Find a time that works best for you, whether it's in the morning to start your day on a positive note or in the evening to reflect on your accomplishments from the day. Add this to your calendar, set reminders, or use sticky notes to ensure you remember, or combine it with an already-established routine with habit stacking.
  3. Define Success: Success can mean different things to different people. Take some time to define what success looks like for you. It could be achieving a specific goal, overcoming a challenge, or receiving positive feedback.
  4. Be Specific: When recording your successes, be specific about what you accomplished and why it's meaningful to you. Instead of simply writing, "I did a good job today," elaborate on what you did, how it made you feel, and why it's a noteworthy achievement.
  5. Celebrate Small Wins: Learning to love yourself is about celebrating each every one of the small victories.  Even the smallest accomplishments deserve recognition and celebration. Keep in mind, too, that very little in life is black and white, pass or fail. If you didn’t quite hit the mark, did you still make an effort? Did you get part of the way there? Did you learn something? That too, is a win!

Self-love with ADHD is about embracing your unique strengths and resilience. Recognize your creativity, focus, and empathy to build a positive self-image. Celebrate wins, advocate for yourself, and find community support for a fulfilling life. And remember: Learning to love yourself with ADHD is a process and may take time; however, it is worth it because you are worth that energy.

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