“I’m a Loser”: Toxic Conversations with Yourself That Need to Stop

Would you ever say any of these things to someone you care about?

  • I hate you
  • You’re such a loser
  • Why can’t you do anything right?
  • How many times do I have to tell you to…
  • I don’t understand what you are talking about
  • You need to lose weight

…then why are you saying them to yourself?

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard my clients say these things about themselves. Like wounded soldiers, they carry their scars – often invisibly- but feeling them deeply.

Does that sound like you?

What’s going on, here? Many of you reading this are college educated or have good jobs or have a caring heart, are great moms, or (fill in the blank). You aren’t damaged.

I am not damaged. But you are hurting… and you may still be hurting from years and years of fighting to be heard, to be understood, to be accepted.

I know the many battles we with ADHD have fought and continue to fight and I realize how that can affect self-esteem, relationships, lost opportunities, and more.

But you only lose the war if you give up fighting.

I talked a bit about ADHD and self-esteem in my blog post last month but let’s dig deeper today.

In that issue, I asked you to list five things you like about yourself. I loved your responses. Today, I’d like to ask you to try this:

Share one thing you’d like to change about yourself.

It could be, for example, getting to work on time. Cooking more. Listening better. Paying bills on time. Etc.

Don’t be frightened, because I believe we can all move forward *if* we know how to make changes. For example, at my age, I know I can’t run a 9 – minute mile. Heck, I can’t run a 13 – minute mile. So let’s be realistic with our goals.

Here are some ideas:

Goal: I want to become more social and have more friends.

Ask yourself: What is holding me back?

Possible answers:

  1. I am afraid I’ll be rejected.
  2. I don’t know where to find someone whom I might like.
  3. I find it hard to communicate, to understand “the social dance.”

Possible solutions:

  1. Think back of when you were rejected or felt like you were rejected. By whom?What is your story? Did you feel you weren’t listened to when growing up? Were you out of synch in high school and therefore retreated to protect yourself? Were you embarrassed by your ADHD traits (probably not knowing you even had ADHD)?

These are hard questions to answer for most but somewhere the answer can be found. Sometimes it takes working with a therapist to discover the source of your fear of rejection, which, by the way, is very commonly seen in women with ADHD.

Note from Terry: I’ve often seen women with ADHD set themselves up for failure in this area due to the FEAR of finding someone, the fear of getting close to someone, which goes back, often times, to the fear of rejection due to early experiences. It’s far easier to throw your hands up in the air and say- I don’t know where to look. I give up. I am safe, now.

  • Find groups of people who share your interests. It can be people interested in, say, genealogy or gardening, politics, religion, philosophy, sports. Goodness, there are so many options. You can find local groups on MeetUp, at your local community center, place of worship, Facebook, etc.
  • Again, self-confidence or lack of, can be at the root of this. But with ADHD, we may truly have difficulty in this area because we are distracted. Some of us may take over conversations and lose our audience, or conversely, find it hard to pull ourselves IN to conversations. A wonderful book on this- social skills for adults with ADHD- is What Does Everybody Else Know that I Don’t? by Dr. Michele Novotni.
  • Working with a therapist who understands adult ADHD can be incredibly helpful. Many ADHD coaches can also guide you in step-by-step suggestions, too.
  • One area that I would like to talk more about in future blog posts/articles is my take on the role of ADHD and trauma. I am indebted to the work of my friend, Dr. Gabor Maté, who has talked about this extensively. His book, Scattered, does an excellent job of explaining the connection between ADHD and trauma.

** And check out his new book (not an ADHD book per se, but one that should be of help to all of us who struggle): The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture.

The Challenge

I am challenging you, my dear reader, to post one thing you would like to work on and briefly explain how you plan to do it, whether it’s writing about your problem and setting up a step-by-step plan, getting help from a friend or relative, starting psychotherapy, meditating, etc. etc.

Please post it below in the comment section.

Up for the challenge? I will respond to each of your posts. Until then, congratulations for taking it on!

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Terry Recommends

My friend, Dr. Gabor Maté’s new book The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture

Is now available! This is a book that is life-altering and I encourage you all to get your copy.

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 www.drgabormate.com …you have been missing a lot. His work is life-changing, eye-opening.  His work has changed my life, actually, and it can change yours.

Order his book today!

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Order yours here.

Look What’s Coming!



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?

I’ve researched the handful of ADHD directories online and decided that I’m going to develop the best one, ever. One that is user friendly. One that doesn’t frustrate you or make your eyes hurt. One that is comprehensive, where you can find therapists, doctors, coaches, educators, clinics, etc. One that is up to date, and much more.

** We’re almost ready to launch- you can get a sneak peak at www.GetADHDhelp.com, 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 support@addconsults.com.

Exclusive! Looking for One-on-One Help with Me? Zoom Consultations

Feeling stuck? Need to get your life back in order? I can help! 

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.

(I have a limited number of slots available; if you don’t see a time that works for you, email me at terry@ADDconsults.com).    

The Queens of Distraction

Struggling to tackle paper piles, toy piles, projects and more?

Then join me and your fellow Queens of Distraction online in a private, secret room where we Get Things Done. We “get” it and are here to help you.

Where to find Terry Matlen:

Website: www.ADDconsults.com
Coaching:  www.QueensOfDistraction.com

Wait: Like this article? Please leave your thoughts, resources, hacks, etc. in the comment section below. 

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* Disclosure: I may earn commissions (usually less than the cost of 1/2 cup of lukewarm coffee) for Amazon purchases made through links in this post. The good news is, I don’t sell your information or steal your cookies.