The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. The posts on this blog represent the opinions and thoughts of those with ADHD, and are in no way, shape or form meant to be used as a way to diagnose anyone with anything. If you believe that you have ADHD we urge you to reach out to our general practitioner for an initial assessment and possibly a referral to a specialist.
For an adult with ADHD, judgement is a major issue in multiple facets of our lives. Many of us can also suffer from some form of rejection sensitivity at one point of our lives or another. Sometimes that rejection sensitivity comes from the fact that we are feeling judged by those around us, those who we know love us and care about us, and that can be tough. Judgement is poor due the executive dysfunction that is experienced by those with ADHD, especially adults where the problem is more visible and misunderstood.
Judgement isn’t only something that can work against us. More often than feeling judged, we use judgement against ourselves and others in ways that are unhealthy and sometimes inappropriate. This includes judging ourselves harshly even though we know that we did everything that we could do in a given situation. We also realize that if we were supporting someone else who was judging themselves this harshly in the same situation that we would be able to rationalize those thoughts without question. That’s tough.
What we need to realize is that the act of judgement is just forming an opinion of something. Those with ADHD are not really good at doing that because of how intense we experience emotions. Forming an opinion involves developing thoughts, which lead to emotions, and some of those emotions are uncomfortable.
When We Feel Judged
I’m sure that when you are feeling good you are able to look back in history and remember times that you’ve felt judged or rejected, and hopefully you now realize how incorrect those judgements were. I want you also to think about all of the reasons as to why those judgements aren’t true. Write them out if you need to. Say them out loud!
Those of us with ADHD are often pretty bad at reaching the areas of our brains that we want to, when we want to. That can lead to stress and anxiety in situations for fear that we might look incapable. This includes times when we are learning to do something new, or times where we are doing something that we are not good at.
So, what can we do when these situations come up? My preferred method is to gain a little perspective. Perspective is an easy thing to find as we can usually get our brains to the place of imagining a situation fairly easily. In this way it’s teaching our brain a more healthy coping mechanism for handling these situations moving forward. Each time we gain perspective we’re teaching our brains a different way to cope.
My youngest child has been having issues at school when she gets called to the blackboard. She knows how to complete the work that she is tasked to perform, but she can’t stop thinking about everyone watching her do it. She thinks about what they think about her. Things like what she’s wearing and how her hair looks. She’s 7. I suspect this comes from some of the “role models” that she has on YouTube.
When I talk to her about this happening. we go through the following steps in an effort to gain perspective and realizes that she’s allowed to make a mistake at the board.
- Make sure to breath. (It’s easy to slow your breathing in uncomfortable situations)
- Pretend that she’s back at her desk, and pretend that her best friend is up at the blackboard.
- Ask her to think about how she feels about her friend. Does she feel happy? Does she remember her friend ever having trouble at the blackboard? How would she feel if her friend made a mistake?
This is obviously a simple example, but I would bet that you can use this technique in most situations that you experience in which you feel judged.
The fact of the matter is that no one is judging her and, more importantly, she has no way of knowing with a 100% certainty if they are, or if they are not, so she’s must better thinking about how great she is, and how, if she does make a mistake, that everyone will be there not to judge her, but to want to help her succeed, just like would for her friends!
When We Are Judging
While I often hate being judged, I find myself judging more then I should. I think adults with ADHD should develop two things when it comes to making good judgment. 1. A healthy baseline of good judgment and 2. An awareness of bad judgement. We’ll talk more about those in a moment.
Growing up, I found myself strongly judging people negatively before I knew them. I didn’t know it, but I was allowing myself to make that judgement through my thoughts and then I would feel it emotionally. As I wasn’t aware of what was happening, I sometimes took this feeling as an affirmation of a negative thought which sometimes would trigger a negative action.
Baseline of Good Judgement
When you don’t have good executive function you will not have good natural judgement. You may not necessarily feel like you are even making a bad judgement, however you’ll almost always feel some discomfort. Start paying attention to this discomfort, hold it, and let it pass before acting.
A baseline of good judgement starts with having the right support team. You can’t do it alone, and may never be able to. That’s totally okay. You are human, human’s are social beings, and you bring so much more positivity to the people in your life then whatever assumed negativity you believe that you bring. Have at least one person in your life who you can bounce things off of. This might be your spouse, partner, sibling, parent, ADHD Coach, or even your teacher. Ask them their opinion on your actions, not your thoughts or emotions, when you feel hesitation. You could ask, “Would this action be appropriate in this situation?” Get multiple perspectives.
Awareness of Bad Judgement
Having an awareness of bad judgement is the act of learning from your mistakes. We’re not perfect, no one is. Those with ADHD, cross lines, act inappropriate, and make bad decisions. Once we move past the feelings of being judged for failing or not being perfect; we are able to learn and improve. That’s how you’ll stop making the same mistakes over and over again.
Think about your bad actions but don’t change based on someone else’s opinion. You’re going to hear a lot of opinions around your judgement, and your ADHD. Some are valuable; most are not. Over time you will be able to determine bad judgement, by making mistakes. This isn’t a secret, it’s actually the way that everyone does it, but don’t compare yourself to the fictitious expectations in your head, and don’t let anyone build your awareness of bad judgement (unless they are a qualified professional such your Doctor or ADHD Coach).
Whether you’re judging in an inappropriate way, or feel like you’re being judged. A different perspective can help you break out of those negative, cyclical thoughts that lead to intense emotions and overwhelm. It’s important that you feel comfortable with who you are. If your feeling judged, or rejected and feel like it’s pushing you away from the family and the friends that you love, please reach out to your doctor, friend, parent, sibling, or me.