ADHD and Poor Self-Esteem: Time to Change Your Story

I’ve worked with medical doctors, attorneys, professors, teachers, artists, musicians, writers, journalists, and others with advanced degrees. I’ve worked with women who struggle as moms raising one, two, even five children. I’ve listened to women attack themselves with self-hate as they work behind a cash register, file papers, scrub kitchens, drive busses.

In other words, I’ve worked with women with ADHD from all walks of life, and without many exceptions, all of them have either whispered to me or shouted to themselves: I am STUPID.

ADHD means having difficulties in many areas of our lives: memory, disorganization, time management, moodiness, jumping from one project to another without finishing any of them, getting distracted, and so much more. Is it any wonder that we clobber ourselves with thoughts of I am STUPID. I am INCOMPETENT. Even: I am WORTHLESS. And a biggie: SHAME. Why can’t I do what others do so easily- what is wrong with me?

ADHD takes such a toll on many of us with ADHD and one of the largest is how it hits our self-esteem. Big time. Regardless of your background, whether you have three college degrees or lack a high school diploma. Whether you graduated first in your class or flunked your GED. Whether you earn a million+ per year or are barely getting food on the table (and having trouble figuring out how to cook it), it’s the same.

Here’s my pep talk.

Every single woman with ADHD I have ever met has something wonderful to offer. Creativity. Sensitivity. A special awareness of her world. Sense of humor. Kindness. The list goes on. But do we focus on these wonderful traits? Not always. For some, even less than that. Why? Partly because many of you have grown up hearing these exact words: You are stupid. Or, what is wrong with you? Or, just try harder.

Sometimes the messages are more subtle: if only you’d pay attention in class, you’d get great grades.

As adults, we hear similar messages. And you know what? After a while, we internalize these messages and come to believe them.

Today, I encourage you to grab a scrap of paper and write down five things you like about yourself- it can be anything, I don’t care. But isn’t it time to begin believing in yourself? Yes, there are struggles- I understand that. If you can begin to turn the switch a bit and see yourself as someone who has abilities, intelligence, a kind heart…the list goes on…it can be the first step towards improving your self-esteem. And when that happens, others begin to notice. You’ll be treated and respected more. You’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin. You’ll begin to move in a more positive direction. It’s not easy, but it can happen.

Of course, counseling/therapy works wonders, too. So if you’re suffering from feeling knocked down all the time, please do seek professional help.

In the meantime, I am daring you, my readers, to list five things that you like about yourself, things that you do well, and post them in the Comment Section below.

I may not know you personally, but today, I am proud of you!

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Terry Recommends

Your Therapy Journal

I am SUPER excited to share with you a new resource I discovered: Your Therapy Journal. It includes prompts, guided sessions, goals, check-ins, your session notes, and so much more. Make the most of your therapy sessions!

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Look What’s Coming!

My friend, Dr. Gabor Maté’s new book The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture will be available September 13, but you can pre-order it right now.

I’ve known Gabor for well over 20 years and if you haven’t read his other books, or seen his interviews on YouTube, or learned about his work on his website at…you have been missing a lot. His work is life-changing, life-altering. He certainly has changed mine.

Pre-order his book HERE.


I get a lot of emails and guess what the #1 question I get is:

Where can I find a professional in my area who can help me?

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** We’re almost ready to launch, but if you are a professional or have a service or product and would like to be first in line or want to know more my new directory, email me at

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Let’s work together to help you get back on track (or get started on your journey!). I provide short-term sessions offering psycho-educational information, resources, support, and mini-coaching to help you get started- whether you’re looking to find someone to evaluate you or if you’ve been struggling your whole life and are ready to get unstuck, I can help.  

I get it. Because I have ADHD, too, and over 25 years of experience working with adults with ADHD.

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Where to find Terry Matlen:


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