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ADHD brains love to focus on negative self-talk. We’re uniquely wired for rumination and fixation on anything we perceive as “wrong with ourselves”. Our thoughts can get so out of control, we don’t even recognize them. That’s why it’s important to pause and think about the facts.
A Peek Inside My Own ADHD Negative Self-Talk
I recently got sick while on vacation in California. At first, I catastrophized the situation, thinking that my entire trip was ruined and that I was a failure. But when I took a step back and looked at the facts, I realized that getting sick can happen to anyone, and it doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person or that my life is over (although my brain assures me it is).
Where our ADHD Negative Self-Talk Comes From
Negative self-talk can be incredibly harmful for all of us, but especially if you have ADHD. It’s estimated that ADHD children receive 20,000 more negative messages than neurotypical counterparts before the age of 10, and if we don’t pay attention to them, our minds can start taking them as truth. This can lead to the infamous ADHD spin, where we start thinking that our lives are horrible and that we need to burn everything down and start over again.
Turning Negative Self Talk Around
So, what can we do to combat negative self-talk? The hardest, yet most important step is to recognize when it’s happening. Pay attention to your thoughts when you’re feeling bad and ask yourself if the story you’re telling yourself is true. Are you being unnecessarily mean to yourself? If so, try to reframe the situation and focus on the facts. Sometimes we make mistakes, and that’s okay. It doesn’t define you as a person.
One technique that has helped me combat negative self-talk is mindfulness and yoga. These practices have helped me to pause and really listen to my thoughts, so I can better understand where they’re coming from and how they’re affecting me. Mindfulness and yoga can also help us stay present in the moment, reduce feelings of overwhelm and anxiety, and help keep us out of negative thought spirals.
Another technique that has helped me is reframing. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of a situation, try to find the positives. For example, getting sick on vacation may have canceled some plans, but it also gave me a much needed opportunity to rest and take some time for myself. Reframing can help us find meaning and purpose in difficult situations and improve our overall mindset.
It’s also important to surround ourselves with positive influences. Whether it’s supportive friends and family, a therapist, or an ADHD coach, having people in our lives who believe in us and encourage us can make a huge difference. And if you don’t have someone like that in your life, there are online communities and support groups that can provide that sense of connection and encouragement.
You Have the Power to Stop ADHD Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk can destroy our peace and our self-esteem (if we let it). But by recognizing when it’s happening, practicing mindfulness and reframing, and surrounding ourselves with positive influences, we can learn to combat it and improve our overall mindset. Remember, you are not defined by your negative thoughts or your ADHD. You are capable of achieving great things and living a fulfilling life.