We often talk about ADHD and acceptance: acceptance of your diagnosis and symptoms as a way to move forward. Acceptance means understanding your brain, and coming to terms with how it works. Having ADHD is a different way of thinking and being, and that's OKAY.
Without acceptance of ADHD, it's hard to make changes. So what gets in the way of this crucial process? Here are a few possibilities:
- Denial. If you haven't internalized your diagnosis, you might still be fighting against it. Being in denial means you might continue to use strategies that don't work for you, because you feel like you "should." If you deny the impact that ADHD has on your life, you might also focus on the wrong reasons why you're struggling. You might focus on the fact that you're "lazy," or that next time you just need to "try harder"
- Misinformation or lack of awareness. It's pretty difficult to accept symptoms that you don't understand, or that you don't realize are impacting your life. ADHD education is a key component of working toward acceptance, so it's important to learn more about the symptoms that are impacting you!
- Anger. Getting an ADHD diagnosis as an adult can lead to mixed emotions. You may think about lost opportunities, or become angry with a loved one who didn't seek support when you were younger. You may also get frustrated when it feels like a loved one doesn't understand your challenges. This is a normal part of the process, but it can also stop you from accepting responsibility for your own actions.
- Shame. Unfortunately there is still a stigma around ADHD, which can make people feel ashamed of their diagnosis. A major roadblock to acceptance is feeling like there's something "wrong" with you for having ADHD. Yes, this type of brain has its challenges, but it also has many unique strengths and advantages!
- Defensiveness. With ADHD comes a longstanding history of great intentions and less-than-ideal actions. The problem is, others don't always see those intentions - they only see the actions. As such, many people with ADHD are sensitive to criticism. Putting yourself on the defensive, though, doesn't leave you open to problem solving. It leaves you open to deflecting blame.
Understanding and accepting your ADHD - challenges and all - can leave you open to change. Acceptance frees up more mental energy to figure out what works for you and your brain! So think about these blockers - are they getting in the way of your progress?
Related blog post: After an ADHD Diagnosis: A Video about Acceptance