Boundaries are the rules you set for yourself and others. They dictate what’s ok and what’s not ok for you. Since Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a self-regulation disorder, many folks with ADHD struggle with boundaries. And boundaries can come up around anything: time, people, emotions, work, etc.
Due to difficulty setting boundaries, many ADHDers struggle with saying yes to everything and everyone on the one hand, while saying no to their own needs or self-care on the other. However, boundaries are an incredibly important part of getting things done and having healthy self-esteem. The more we get done, the better we feel. But we can’t please everyone. So the lack of boundaries often creates a negative feedback loop. We feel like we are overworking, underperforming, and that we are “bad” or letting others down. Sound familiar? Here’s the why and the how:
Three Reasons ADHDers Struggle with Boundaries
It’s really common for adults with ADHD to feel pressure to take on more because of their past mistakes. More work. More home responsibilities. And, more time for others and less focus on themselves. Unfortunately, this creates a vicious cycle. With so much work piling up and a longer and longer to-do list, the chances of more missed deadlines or mistakes start to add up. And this only creates more guilt and negative self-talk.
While taking on too much can be caused by guilt, it might also come from feeling unworthy to take on less. Similar to guilt, this usually creates a bit of a loop, and the over-worker then struggles with accountability, which reinforces lower self-esteem. A lot of this can be carried over from childhood. Even if a person received good grades growing up, undiagnosed ADHD can spark criticism from the outside world that often expects unique square pegs to fit into its round hole.
Emotions aside, many ADHDers struggle to plan ahead and can be blind to time. While this can be a great way to get in the zone (a superpower in many ways), it can also cause the awareness of deadlines to be out of sight, out of mind. This is all because planning lives in the part of the brain that is impacted by ADHD. Difficulty with planning can then create time-management struggles, which can put a person in constant “catch-up” mode.
Steps to Setting Better Boundaries
Learn to say no.
Emphasis on learning. Saying no is a skill. It won’t happen overnight. But like anything, practice makes progress. Start small. Say no to staying up late one night. Or say no to social media one morning. Over time, the brain starts to get the picture: “ok, you mean no, we get it.”
Identify your feelings.
This might feel left of center, but feelings guide our actions. Consider them. And identify if they mean you have to act on that impulse. For example, one can feel fear and face their fears. One can also feel guilt and say no. An ADHD therapist can help process your emotions in a safe way to better identify what is going on underneath your overworking and undervaluing your own time.
Sometimes setting boundaries is about saying yes. Yes to the new things, yes to the things that may seem selfish, and yes to help. When we extend bravery and self-worth outward, not only does our self-esteem improve, but so does our assertiveness (which is the main tool for building your boundaries).
Begin Adult ADHD Treatment in Columbus, OH
You don’t have to live your life feeling overwhelmed or staying silent. Counseling for ADHD and boundaries can help you find real understanding and real solutions. Our Columbus OH-based counseling practice has caring adult ADHD specialists that can offer support. To start your journey with our adult ADHD specialist, follow these simple steps:
- Fill out the contact form to schedule a free consultation
- Meet with one of our adult ADHD specialists
- Stop feeling overwhelmed. Start gaining control of your time and life.
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 ADHD testing, anxiety treatment for ADHD, counseling for men with ADHD, or depression counseling for ADHD. You can also view our blog or FAQs for more resources and helpful info. We look forward to connecting with you!