Whenever my newsletter goes out, a small handful of people cancel their subscription. (Please don’t get any ideas!) In the unsubscribe box, I encourage my readers to tell me why they’ve decided to leave, as their comments help me to improve my newsletters. Recently, as I was looking over their responses, most said they simply didn’t have time to read a newsletter. But then, one popped out and slapped me in the face. It said: “Too long-winded with nothing helpful to say.”
As I cringed, I wanted right then and there to shut down my newsletter. It felt like a knife through the heart. But then I scraped myself off the floor and began to think. Why would that one little comment affect me so deeply? I’ve been in this field for over 20 years, published two books, present throughout the country… yet I can still feel shattered when I read or hear criticisms about myself.
I don’t think I’m alone. People with ADD, especially, have tender, sensitive hearts. Many of us have heard criticisms from the day we started Kindergarten (Susie doesn’t pay attention. Emily won’t share her toys, etc.). And many more of us heard things for many years after that from parents, teachers, partners, friends, bosses and others who reprimanded us for one ADD related behavior after another.
As adults, we carry those hurtful words with us into our marriage, our jobs and professions and into our parenting roles, as well:
- You talk too much
- You don’t listen to me
- You never finish what you start (tip: check out QueensOfDistraction.com)
- Your room/house/office is a mess
- Why don’t you just try harder?
Dr. William Dodson talks about something he calls “Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria”- a perception- not necessarily the reality- that a person has been rejected, teased, or criticized by important people in their lives.
He talked more about this in depth in an ADDitude Magazine article.
In a nutshell, he feels this is a common piece seen in ADHD. And I agree. But why? Dodson suggests this is part of how an ADHD brain work. But to take it a bit further…..
We aren’t just too sensitive; we are re-acting to statements and criticisms we’ve heard all of our lives. Add to that a real sensitivity I do see in many with ADHD: being unusually compassionate to others, plus having hypersensitivities to stimuli (including emotional)…and we’re headed for constant crashes like I had with the newsletter comment.
What we can do to counteract these experiences is to remember where we are most vulnerable. Did you hear hurtful things about your ADD related behaviors when you were growing up? Pinpoint what those comments were and see how they might still affect you now, as an adult.
Focus on your strengths, your abilities. I don’t know how to roast a turkey, but I can play a bass guitar.
And listen to the criticisms to see if there might be something you might learn from them instead of reacting so deeply. In my case, this woman was right: my newsletters do tend to be a bit wordy. So this time, I will end here at 400 words instead of 1400+.
Dr. Dodson also suggests medication for extreme cases.
What do you think? Do you feel you are over-sensitive at times? Why? How do you deal with that? Share your thoughts in the Comment section below.