August 2005 - Volume II - Issue VIII

ADHD - Self Doubt – The self fulfilling prophecy

Statement: My intent in this newsletter is to express as quickly as possible my own beliefs and opinions on matters. I have no problems with people who disagree with my opinion and have even been swayed to rethink my position from time to time.

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Many persons with ADHD have experienced self doubt for much of their lives. This usually stems from negative events in their lives dating back to childhood. A lingering thought of not reaching our potential or disappointing others or ourselves. It is a difficult thing to deal with and almost seemingly even more difficult to overcome. This leaves many of us being our own worst enemies when it comes to advancing our lives.

Past failed attempts to make changes in our lives seem to be reinforced by subsequent attempts which have not gone well. We begin to beat ourselves up as we know we are more intelligent than others who seem to do well. We also seemingly know what we need to do to move forward but getting it done is a ongoing struggle. This results in a chronic feeling of self doubt in us.

I had a woman attend our ADHD support group who brought her elderly mother with her. Her mother apparently had told her daughter that the only reason she could imagine that her daughter beat herself over the head so often was that it must feel so good when she finally stops. I thought this was pretty applicable as to all of us with ADHD that struggle with self doubt.

As a result of past performance we often make statements of self defeat to ourselves. This results in what I call the fulfillment of a self fulfilling prophecy. We think we will fail therefore we often do exactly that.

The best solution to this is easy to say and hard to do. It is to try and eliminate these doubts. One of the best ways is to start out making small goals that are not as difficult to achieve such as just cleaning up one closet by cleaning out one box per night for as many nights as it takes. The accomplishment of attaining this small goal can lead us to work on another small goal. Seeing these small successes can lead us to start thinking about moving up to larger ones like cleaning the entire garage. Again use the baby steps method to accomplish the ultimate goal. Break the garage up into eight to ten sectors and tackle one of these areas at a time and be satisfied with attaining each of these sectors at a time. The closer you get to the half way mark the more light at the end of the tunnel you will see to get the full job done. This often results in us actually get two or three sectors done at one time when we started out with just a goal of one sector. This should and I repeat should lead us to better self esteem and less self doubt.

Another problem is to try and maintain the advances that we have made so that when we get done we don't have to start completely over.

Self doubt can leave us frozen in a time warp. We don't know where to start because it seems overwhelming and so we sit and try and think of a game plan and often end up deciding to watch television or play computer games instead. So we must make a quick decision and then plunge in. It is best if we have someone around not necessarily to do the work but to keep us on task. Coming across a photo album or another item that can distract us can be a permanent set back for the day. If phone calls interrupt you take the phone off the hook.

The bottom line is the only way to defeat self doubt is to prove to ourselves and have some instances to recall when we did accomplish what we set out to do. Five to ten accomplishments can often lead to enough small successes that we can build on to achieve bigger and better things.

Thanks and talk to you next month

Patrick Hurley

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Author's Bio: 

17 years Deputy Sheriff (Lieutenant) 5 years adult probation officer, 2 years as ADHD coach. Co Author of "ADHD & the Criminal Justice System"