ADHD and Fear of Failure

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The emotional impact of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be just as powerful as its impact on concentration. In other words: ADHD isn’t just about procrastination, it’s also about how you feel when you procrastinate. It’s about the shame and internal criticism that you put something off…again. Even though it’s rarely talked about, many ADHD folks battle with fears of not being good enough. They often stress about small decisions and avoid taking risks in order to not make the big mistakes. This intense fear of failure can result in many ADHDers feeling overwhelmed and stuck. Ultimately, the fear designed to keep you safe, becomes the symptom rather than the cure.

Why isn’t fear and ADHD discussed more?

Emotions are hard to measure, and therefore almost impossible to study. ADHD research tends to overlook the inner experience of a person in exchange for behavioral experiences (which is often easier for a study to evaluate).

Hidden ways fear of failure might be impacting you:


Sometimes fear of failure results in trying to apologize for what you feel is lacking by making sure others’ needs are always met first. This might look like struggling to say no, taking the blame for things you have nothing to do with, or overworking. In a leadership role, it could even show up as struggling to delegate tasks so that others won’t make a mistake on your behalf. Ultimately, people-pleasing and overpromising results in unmet expectations because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to solve your problems and everyone else’s.

OverthinkingA concerned woman holds her head while reviewing something on her laptop. Learn more about ADHD in adults Ohio along with ADHD and emotional regulation. 43017 | 43016 | 43235

Thinking about a problem over and over again without much action serves a purpose. By maximizing your thoughts, you might feel like you can control the possibility of failure. However, the reality is that overthinking tends to become a distraction and slow down or even halt progress on one’s goals.


ADHD and depression can go hand in hand for many reasons. Sometimes, folks with ADHD aren’t depressed, but instead are feeling very deeply about a certain situation. However, true depression makes someone’s thoughts and emotions sad or hopeless. It tends to take over someone’s life, even if objectively things are going well. Since fear of failure is tied to self-esteem, depression might follow experiences of perceived failure, loss, or negative consequences (such as one’s business struggling or criticism at work). For many folks with ADHD, sensitivity to criticism or rejection might trigger feeling down more days than not for a prolonged period.

What you can do about your fear of failure:

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Consider how you spend your energy and if your actions (or emotions) are moving you toward your goals and values…or away from them. For example, spending time worrying is often not as productive as it might feel. The past is the past and can’t be changed. And the future is unpredictable (for everyone), so there is only so much that can be done to prepare.

Set boundaries.

Boundaries are critical for self-care and self-worth. Learning to say no is a skill that might take some time to perfect. But if overpromising, pleasing-people, and overworking are impacting your ability to get things done, it’s worth the effort.

Learn to recognize how you feel and think.A group of coworkers clap as they celebrate a presentation. Searching ADHD in adults Ohio can help you better understand anxiety therapy in Columbus, OH. Learn more about ADHD and emotional regulation today. 43235 | 43202 | 43214

Untangling emotions is a big part of ADHD management. However, you need to uncover what those emotions are and why you feel the way you feel first. Therapy, creativity, and introspective activities (like meditation) can help.

Begin Adult ADHD Treatment in Columbus, OH

You don’t have to live your life in fear of failure. ADHD treatment can help you find real understanding and real solutions. Our Columbus OH-based counseling practice has caring adult ADHD specialists. To start your journey with one of our adult ADHD specialists, follow these simple steps:

  • Fill out the contact form to schedule a free consultation.
  • Meet with one of our adult ADHD specialists.
  • Stop letting fear stand in your way. Start going after the life you want.

Other ADHD Services Offered at Focused Mind ADHD Counseling

We offer a variety of mental-health services that go beyond adult ADHD treatment at our Columbus, OH counseling practice. As an adult with ADHD, Focused Mind ADHD Counseling understands you may also benefit from anxiety treatment for ADHD, counseling for men with ADHD, adult ADHD testing, or depression counseling for ADHD. You can also view our blog for more resources and helpful info. We look forward to connecting with you!