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“Shame Spiral Advice from the Counselor with ADHD Who Needs to Take Her Own Advice”

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“Positive reinforcement, encouragement, and rewards help us create good habits; shame, criticism, and negative self-talk do not,” I say to a client, terrified that they see right through me and know that I’m actively beating myself up for falling weeks behind on paperwork.I was diagnosed with ADHD at 24 years old in the middle of earning my masters in clinical mental health counseling.

I had always been praised for my intelligence. At the same time, I struggled with not feeling good enough, partly because of my challenges with disorganization, getting things done, forgetfulness, and other executive function areas where I sometimes came up short.

I felt like an imposter. Of course, I knew that I was a capable person (and who doesn’t have imperfections?) but knowing and feeling are two very different things.Even after completing my counselor training, embarking on a self-healing journey, and achieving a greater understanding of ADHD, feelings of shame, self-doubt, and anxiety still come up for me – the same feelings I help my own clients navigate.

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