“It’s always helpful to remember that when perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun.”
- Brene Brown, in Rising Strong
Shame is Riding Shotgun
Satisfaction, happiness, and self-esteem are related to the gap between expectations and reality. The smaller the gap, the higher the levels of happiness and self-esteem are.
This creates a problem for adults with ADHD, because expectations are generally that they will perform just as well as those who aren’t encumbered by ADHD symptoms, simply because they are adults. Though they often do perform well – and even excel - on big picture tasks (think starting a new company) and in high pressure emergency situations (think day trader; emergency room physician) the mundane parts of life can be tough. Forget about perfectionism…ADHD symptoms get in the way of meeting ‘regular’ expectations! Most ADHD adults experience a lot of shame, even if they aren’t talking about it.
Be aware of triggering that shame (shame does not lead to positive responses in most cases!) And, if you are the partner with the ADHD, get to understand the ins and outs of your specific ADHD. “Right size” your expectations to fit where you are in the treatment optimization process. Over time, you can – and should!- learn skills to help you perform reliably. In the meantime, don’t torture yourself with unrealistic expectations. Talk with your partner about your specific plans, goals and expectations as you set them so you are both on the same page.
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For those in marriages impacted by ADHD
You can find great resources for couples impacted by ADHD at adhdmarriage.com, including free:
- Online treatment overview;
- Downloadable chapters of my books;
- A community forum with other couples facing similar issues;
- A large number of blog posts on various topics;
Is your relationship in trouble? Consider my highly acclaimed couples' course: ADHD Effect In-Depth Couples' Seminar - This 8-session phone seminar has helped many couples thrive in healthier, happier relationships.