A-D/HD and Self Compassion

A-D/HD and Self Compassion

People with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (A-D/HD or ADHD) are more likely to have experiences where they felt a lack of support or criticism. Such experiences can result in internalized shame and negative core beliefs.

This can be especially true for people who are diagnosed later in life.

Treating yourself with kindness and giving yourself the space to not only make mistakes, but also to be your own unique neurodivergent self, can change how you navigate your life.

It can support letting go of perfectionist expectations, bringing self-acceptance and resilience.

Kristen Neff, a pioneer in the study of the benefits of Self Compassion, found that individuals with higher levels of self- compassion reported less self-critical talk and had a lower risk of anxiety and depression than those who have lowers levels (Neff, Rude & Kirkpatrick, 2007).

Neff has formulated 3 core elements in the practice of Self Compassion:


Understanding that imperfection, failure, and other challenges are a natural part of living: being kind towards yourself and accepting limitations.

Common Humanity

Recognizing that we’re not the only people suffering or making mistakes – all people do.


Acknowledging and observing your negative emotions rather than suppressing or identifying with them. Remembering that you are not your feelings.

Lea Seigen Shinraku (founder of the San Francisco Centre for Creative Self-Compassion) states that mindfulness “can help regulate challenging emotions by focussing our attention on our physical sensations or some other experience in our environment. And learning to self-soothe can also help people with ADHD cope with challenging emotions.”

Shinraku shares that “the simplest self-compassion exercise is to put a hand or two on your heart and take three breaths. This self-soothing practice stimulates the release of oxytocin and helps our nervous system calm down.” (Maria Romanszkas. “ADHD and the Power of Self Compassion.” 8/May/2023, adhdonline.org)

When you are aware that you are experiencing negative self -talk, place your hand on your heart, take 3 breaths and practice replacing criticism with more self -affirming statements.

Think about what you would say to a friend who was having those same self-critical thoughts and be your own friend.

Living with ADHD can bring challenges. It’s important to have a balanced perspective and know where you are challenged, while remembering to be realistic and kind.

It also important to recognize that ADHD can also bring strengths or what I like to call superpowers. Remember where you are a rock star and shine!


Written by: Lorna Brothen, Registered Social Worker and Clinical Counsellor with Wildflowers



Maria Romanszkas. “ADHD and the Power of Self Compassion.” 8/May/2023, adhdonline.org


Self Compassion – The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

Kristin Neff Ph.D.

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