Self-Compassion and Managing ADHD

We all have moments when we experience anxiety, doubt, and frustration. Experiencing stressful emotions is hard enough; managing them, especially if you have ADHD, can be even more challenging. One way to ease the stress is to practice self-compassion.

While negative thought patterns are not always harmful, they can become self-destructive when we fixate on them and become paralyzed with self-doubt. This can create a toxic cycle of procrastinating to avoid experiences that trigger negative feelings, which can lead to failure that reinforces those feelings.

There are many brain-based strategies for promoting emotional regulation, but one powerful way to break this harmful cycle is to practice self-compassion. How? One way, described in a recent article from ADDitudemag.com, is to talk to yourself as you would to your best friend.

When a friend is in distress, our first instinct is to comfort them with kind words. However, many of us don’t practice positive self-talk when dealing with our own mistakes, so we can’t learn from our mistakes. If you find yourself thinking, “I am a screw up, I always make mistakes!” offer yourself the advice you would give to a friend. Tell yourself something like, “Everyone makes mistakes. This is not the end of the world. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.”

Of course, this is easier said than done. To get started, try this simple mindfulness self-compassion strategy. (As you know, we here at SMARTS are all about systematic strategies!)

Set a timer for several minutes (anywhere from five to 15 minutes will do), and follow these instructions:

1. Start by sitting or lying down in a comfortable posture.

2. Take a few deep breaths. Gather your attention… focus on the movement of your body with each full breath.

3. Next, with each inhalation, observe it all… Then consider, “Everyone has moments like this.”

4. With each exhalation, set an intention: “May I find strength and kindness for myself right now.”

5. You will get distracted almost immediately. That’s what our mind does. Treat that distraction in the same way — it happens, no need for frustration, come back to take the next breath.

6. Continue in this way for a few breaths or until your timer goes off.

Do you think this self-compassion strategy would be helpful for your students? What other strategies do you use? Let us know in the comments!

  •  Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager