ADHD Hack: The Surprising Secret to Boosting Your Self-Esteem

Tina Squire, an ADHD coach, in a blue sleeveless top and gray shorts sitting on a wooden platform in a park, smiling at the camera.

For individuals with ADHD, the seemingly simple act of receiving compliments can often feel like navigating a complex emotional maze. The ADHD brain, wired for constant stimulation and self-criticism, tends to dismiss positive feedback, especially regarding tasks or abilities that come naturally. Let’s explore the challenges of accepting compliments for those of us with ADHD and consider what practical strategies there are to overcome these hurdles, ultimately leading to improved self-esteem and social interactions.

The ADHD Compliment Conundrum:

People with ADHD frequently struggle with low self-esteem and negative self-perception. This can stem from years of struggling with executive function, time management, and societal expectations. As a result, when faced with praise, the ADHD brain may automatically discount or reject the compliment, often before the individual has even fully processed it.

Strategies for Success:

1. Embrace Verbal Processing:

One effective technique for managing the immediate dismissal of compliments is to verbalise your thoughts. By saying your reactions aloud, you create an opportunity to catch and challenge negative self-talk. This process allows you to consciously examine your thoughts and potentially reframe them in a more positive light.

2. Recognise and Celebrate ADHD Strengths:

Many individuals with ADHD possess unique talents and abilities that they may overlook because these skills come easily to them. It’s crucial to understand that what feels “effortless” to you might actually be a special talent. Take time to identify and appreciate your ADHD-related strengths, such as creativity, hyperfocus, or out-of-the-box thinking.

3. Practise Acceptance Through Simple Responses:

Even if you don’t fully believe or internalise a compliment, responding with a simple “thank you” can be a powerful first step. This practice acknowledges the other person’s kindness and helps rewire your brain to become more receptive to positive feedback over time.

4. Seek Clarification and Specifics:

If a compliment feels vague or difficult to process, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for more details. Requesting specifics about what the person appreciated can help make the compliment feel more concrete and easier to accept.

5. Reframe Your Perspective on Compliments:

Remember that accepting a compliment isn’t solely about you – it’s also about allowing the other person to express their appreciation. By shifting your focus to the giver’s intention, you may find it easier to receive praise graciously.

6. Incorporate Positive Affirmations:

Regular use of positive affirmations can help build a more robust and positive self-image. Take time each day to remind yourself of your strengths, accomplishments, and unique qualities. This practice can make it easier to accept external compliments as they align with your internal dialogue.

Learning to accept compliments with ADHD is a skill that requires patience and practice. As you implement these strategies, be kind to yourself and acknowledge that change takes time. With consistent effort, you can develop a healthier relationship with praise, leading to improved self-esteem and more positive social interactions.

Remember, your ADHD brain may initially resist compliments, but with these tools and techniques, you can learn to embrace and benefit from the positive feedback you receive. Celebrate your progress, no matter how small, and continue to work towards a more confident and self-assured you.

You can download our free ebook “Thriving with ADHD at work” and there are also Access To Work resources available.

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