8 More Lies ADHD People Tell Ourselves

Jul. 24th, 2017

Many of us with ADHD are inherently optimistic, hopeful even. We just assume things will work out. And this is a positive thing, right up until we believe it will, without any influence from us. Here are a bunch more lies our ADHD brains come up with and the truth hidden in them. You can find the first 9 here.

1. “I’ll never get any better.”

When everyday is an uphill struggle to complete the most pedestrian of tasks, despair over a solution can creep up on the best of us. Fear that this is just how life is can eat away at us and even impair our abilities to recognize and take advantage of assistance when it appears.

On the other hand, if you don’t change anything, this lie will come true. If what you’ve been doing is resulting in unhappiness, something must change in order for a different outcome. A new book, a support group, a qualified therapist or coach, something new must be introduced.

2. “I don’t need meds, strategies, or tools. They’re just a crutch.”

My father loves to tell people that when he is on his ADHD meds, he doesn’t change at all, it’s the rest of the world that changes to be more reasonable. He knows he needs to take his afternoon “top-up” when people start getting unreasonable again. It’s become a family joke.

When we are managing to function well in some area, it can become tempting to think “I don’t need this, look how fine everything is!” The problem is things are fine because of the meds, the strategies, or the tools. If something is really working, things will deteriorate if it’s taken away.

The idea of a crutch is an interesting one too. Would you expect someone with a broken leg and cast to walk without their crutches? Of course not. A crutch, in the context of this lie, is “anything that serves as a temporary and often inappropriate support, supplement, or substitute”. But for people with ADHD, we need our meds, strategies, and tools just as much as someone with poor eyesight needs glasses.

3. “I don’t have time for self care.”

I heard a fascinating idea where you substitute “it’s not a priority” for “I don’t have time”. Anyone who knows anything about mental health will tell you that self care must be a priority for those who struggle. And I don’t just mean bubble baths and nice hand lotion, though of course those are nice. I mean things such as hydration, nutrition, and sleep, the basic needs that build the foundation of how we function and feel.

On the other hand there are so many demands on our time and ADHD makes things worse because tons of things take us more time. The thing is, if we don’t prioritize the things that will assist us to create more time (we are less likely to make mistakes that waste time when we are well rested, for one oversimplified example) then the cycle will continue.

4. “I should be able to do this!”

Any of my clients, and some of my friends, can tell you how much of a problem I have with this word “should”. The sheer tonnage of emotional baggage this word carries around puts Tony Stark to shame. I don’t know what you, personally, think when you hear or say this word, but I’ll bet anything it’s not good.

I think what’s somewhat meant by this lie is “Other people can do this just fine! Why can’t I?” And the answer is... Well, you, my friend, have ADHD. That’s the reality. And the quicker we give up wishing we were some other way, the quicker we can focus our amazingly creative brains on how we can do things.

5. “I’m not worthy of love or friendship because of my flaws.”

This lie can feed into many others like “I’ll never find anyone.” and “Anyone who is willing to put up with me is what I get and I don’t matter enough to seek out healthy relationships.”

Much of these issues are so big and deep that if these are things you’ve heard yourself think, I highly recommend you seek out professional assistance in the form of therapy or counselling. This is bigger stuff than coaches are trained to deal with. Even if the selfsame flaws that are causing our self esteem issues are removed, with coaching, the self doubt may persist. That’s when you know for sure therapy is needed to address the issues. There may also be something more than ADHD at play.

6. “I just need to find the perfect notebook, system, or book, and then everything will be fine.”

While the correct system (which may include a specific notebook) or a good book can be a key part of effectively managing ADHD and mental health in general, no thing on its own can solve everything. Not even medication.

For example, lots of people find the bullet journal system is the difference between order and chaos for them. However, no organizational system can teach you techniques for emotional sensitivity. A coach can be there to keep their clients accountable for the things they decide to do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the motivation is there to actually do anything.

7. “I’ve found the right tool and it will work forever.”

There is a huge dichotomy in many aspects of ADHD, one of them is what a successful system or strategy means. There are some strategies that work for a short time because novelty fuels them, then after they become commonplace are totally ineffective. Other strategies work for a longer period of time, then begin to deteriorate. These need to be tweaked or made slightly more fun and will work just fine.

So every time someone with ADHD starts a new mechanism for working with their ADHD, it helps to keep in mind that almost nothing will work exactly the same way forever. However, if something just totally stops working, and fairly soon after you begin it, then it’s likely not that helpful. Beware of investing energy in forcing yourself to keep using a tool after it is returning zero benefit.

8. “It will take me 30 days to create a habit.”

There are a few theories on how long it takes human beings to develop a habit. Assuming any of them will apply to the ADHD brain can be dangerous. Instead I approach habits with no expectations.

There are a few habits I have been able to implement, but they took more like 6-12 months to create, under the correct circumstances. And there are other things I’ve been doing regularly for the better part of a decade that are the farthest from being habits.

What other lies have you told yourself?