“The difference between guilt and shame is that guilt is about “I did something bad.” Shame is “I am bad.”
- Psychologist Kristen Neff
Shame is something that many adults carry around with them, hidden inside, and it may impact many of their decisions. Non-ADHD partners often unwittingly reinforce or trigger those feelings of shame, particularly when enmeshed in the struggles around parent/child dynamics. Since shame – the “I am bad” sense of oneself – is so difficult to feel, the most common response that I see is for the ADHD partner to retreat from the partner who triggers those feelings. Or, alternatively, to attack that partner in an effort to get them to disconnect. Neither leads to the kind of bond that nurtures your relationship.
It is well worth it, then, to take a long look at when feelings of shame surface and/or are triggered. You can do this with careful observation of self and partner, as well as with a verbal cue the two of you use to alert a non-ADHD partner when they are unknowingly setting up feelings of shame. Over time, you can both learn to move away from those interactions and change how you communicate around particularly difficult topics.
In addition, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a good mode for exploring and working through shame. CBT helps you examine the stories you tell yourself (including “I am bad”) and build new ones that are both more accurate and more healthy.
Are the two of you being held back by under-the-surface feelings of shame?
NEWS and EVENTS:
DECEMBER 3 - 5, 20-21 - ADHD Couples Paloozastarts THIS Friday December 3-5, 2021. ADHD Couples’ weekend is NOT to be MISSED, and registration is free! My airdate is December 3rd.
DECEMBER 8, 2021 - 12 - 1:pm EST, FREE Webinar How To Engage a Resistant Partner - Couples often struggle to engage productively with each other, especially when one or both have ADHD. It's not that they don't wish to be happy together, it's just that they're wary because of chronic frustration and anger; under managed ADHD; emotional hurt; and power struggles which contribute to a build up of resentment and resistance. Melissa Orlov and Ari Tuckman talk about the basis of resistance and offer approaches for productively engaging one's partner.
For those in marriages impacted by ADHD
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