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Fear of Failure/ Negative Feedback

The ADHD brain is more sensitive to failure and negative feedback than a neurotypical one. Often due to a coexisting condition called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD).


The truth is that our brains process imagined events much in the same way as we process actual events. So, imagining or fearing failure or negative feedback can create the same shame spiral that actual failure or feedback can create.


This is extra problematic for those of us whose brains have developed a harsh critic inside, to "keep us on track" (this is often a voice of a parent or teacher from the past that we have held on to for many years).


This critic may sometimes get us moving, but most of the time, it freezes us in place because the criticism it offers triggers that RSD spiral - making us want to run and hide from a task, rather than face the fear we might not do it well.


What to do about it:


When it comes to RSD, the important thing to remember, or teach yourself to focus on, is separating the reality (i.e. the facts) from the projected fear of rejection (the voice of the inner critic) that may be causing those feelings to surface.


The best way to do this and combat change, is to learn to tune in to the negative self-talk that's going on in your head and start to challenge it.


In all honesty, this is probably one of the hardest areas to try and tackle alone. It requires constant self-challenge and re-evaluation, until we break the habit of separating the inner critic’s voice from reality and the present.


Useful ways to learn to control your inner critic include regular meditation (to increase awareness of thoughts) and talking therapy/coaching to enable you to verbally process and de-personalise the emotions and consequent feelings that the critic leaves you with.


Myself, and many of my previous clients can often be found engaging in conversation with their inner critic and challenging its point of you view! The majority of us need to find and use our own voice in order to do this but once we crack this breakthrough, it is there for ever.


Try keeping a notebook next to you for 48 hours, and noting down every negative message is received internally. You'll probably be surprised how mean and persistent this voice is when you capture it on paper and probably find it easier to see why you are so exhausted.


NB: If this process is too much then please reach out to your coach or therapist before continuing this work so that the messages can then be unpacked and addressed one at a time.

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