July 25, 2024

As girls with ADHD grow into adults, their self-esteem will often continue to plummet. Unrealistic and unfair standards, harsh judgment, life challenges take their toll. Usually, the wrong diagnoses and treatment by medical professionals compound this problem.

My clients struggle to believe in themselves. Years of criticism and falling short of expectations impact their sense of confidence. Therapy can help increase confidence, but you may also need some quick hacks.

"Presence". by Amy Cuddy offers a few ideas for shaking anxiety and increasing confidence. Especially in those big moments when you need it. I will share just one in this post and some research that backs it up. 

Presence is defined as the state of being attuned to and able to comfortably express our true thoughts, feelings, values, and potential.

Now presence is hard to cultivate when you have ADHD; presence and attention go hand in hand. 

Presence is also hard when you are anxious. 

Anxiety is a big problem for women with ADHD; a recent study shows that individuals with ADHD are 4x as likely to have generalized anxiety disorder than those without it. 

Many women with ADHD struggle with these issues. 

ADHD causes you to :

  •  doubt yourself
  • question your strengths, 
  • worry whether you can accomplish your goals

 Whether it's meeting a bunch of people for happy hour or giving a presentation at work, you probably need some help with your confidence. 

ADHD and Confidence: Use Self Affirmation Theory to Help

Research has found that one way to help yourself be calm and confident in these situations, and quick is to use the psychological idea called self-affirmation theory.

Self-affirmation includes affirming positive aspects of personal identity or values (Cohen & Sherman, 2014). Self-affirmation, in general, decreases adverse reactions to psychological threats to the self.

It's powerful! It's been shown to reduce the harmful effects of stereotype threat on women in physics and mathematics courses.

 Self-affirmation reduced the effects of stereotype threat on the academic achievement of Black and Latino students (Cohen et al., 2009.

Research has shown that people who used self-affirmations prior to speaking to a hostile audience did not produce cortisol! 

Reflecting on your values and what makes you uniquely you will decrease your anxiety and increase your confidence. 

It's not hokey or pretend. 

It's a little different from how you might understand affirmations to be. 

How can you implement this?

Exercise one

Think about the positive feelings you have associated with being you.

Write about a specific time that you felt good about being you. What made you feel good about being you and the positive emotions you felt.

Exercise two

There are many ways to arrive at your core values. 

One quick way is to describe what three words best describe you deep down as a person. How would your best friend or family describe you ( positively)?

These three words best describe me:

  1. _________________
  2. _________________
  3. _________________

Think about why these values are important to you and when you exemplified this value in your life. 

That's it! Now go forth and do that difficult thing. 

  • Cohen GL, Sherman DK. The psychology of change: Self-affirmation and social psychological intervention. Annual Review of Psychology. 2014;65:333–371. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  • Cohen GL, Garcia J, Purdie-Vaughns V, Apfel N, Brzustoski P. Recursive processes in self-affirmation: Intervening to close the minority achievement gap. Science. 2009;324(5925):400–403. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]