“…practice replacing self-criticism with self-kindness.
Women tend to have a two-layered response to this idea. First, they instinctively love the idea of being more accepting of themselves and not blaming themselves when life isn’t perfect. The research tells women what they already know intuitively: Self-criticism is associated with worse health outcomes, both mental and physical, and more loneliness…
But then, when women start to think concretely about it, they begin to discover a sense that they need their self-criticism in order to stay motivated…"
- Emily Nagoski
There is a lot of food for thought in this quote, and the issue that she brings up – that women may actually like self-criticism because it provides a benefit for them (motivation) is reinforced by the fact that our culture generally gives us permission to criticize ourselves, while punishing us for praising ourselves or being too outspoken. I’m speaking in generalities here, but certainly I’ve experienced that and I bet many of you have.
Whether you are a woman with ADHD or a woman married to a person with ADHD, I think that it’s important to challenge these cultural norms. We need all of the strength we have to live in – and love in – a relationship complicated by the presence of ADHD.
It’s too easy to be self- critical…and because this is so acceptable, no one is going to tell you you shouldn’t be. But I would like to urge you to replace that self-criticism with self love, instead. What does that look like? For women with ADHD that means getting to know that you have fewer limits than people have told you, and that with great management of ADHD you can FLY! It means getting the sleep you need. And not being embarrassed to learn about your limits – you DON’T have to do it all! You don’t have to be perfect – being loving is better. And, in spite of what I’m writing here (which is suggesting a direction) you get to choose how to take care of yourself in this world. Finding ways to be your best, most-true-to-your-values self, no matter what anyone else tells you.
For non-ADHD partners, self-kindness means understanding that you can’t control your ADHD partner’s behaviors, though you can influence them. It means taking time away from the chaos – mentally or physically, as needed. That might mean adding a meditative or gratitude practice, or taking a vacation with friends. Paying attention to your own health, not just everyone else’s. Seeking the positive at every turn. Finding ways to be your best, most-true-to-your-values self, no matter what anyone else tells you.
And, for all – what, besides self-criticism, motivates you? Answer that question and strengthen that area of your life.
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; Referrals. Adult ADHD can have a huge impact on your relationship. ADHDmarriage.com can literally change your life!
Seminars and Groups
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. The next Live session starts October, 2019.