Sun Aug 13 2023

ADHD and Imposter Syndrome

Discover the link between ADHD and imposter syndrome and learn how you can overcome self-doubt.

Well hello there!  

I don’t know about you, but I have felt at times like I’ve been wearing a mask and had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t showing up as my absolute best.  That I had way more potential.  Why can’t I get more done consistently?  The age old question that people who are undiagnosed with ADHD have.  

Many people with ADHD experience imposter syndrome—an overwhelming fear of being exposed as a fraud, despite their accomplishments. 

Let’s dive into some of the causes of Imposter Syndrome and we’ll explore some practical strategies to overcome self-doubt. 

Why Does Imposter Syndrome Occur in ADHD?

  • Masking to Fit In: Individuals with ADHD often find themselves wearing a mask to fit societal norms and expectations. They may feel compelled to hide their ADHD-related challenges, fearing judgment or rejection. This constant effort to appear "neurotypical" can fuel imposter syndrome, as they doubt their true abilities and worry they'll be discovered as frauds.
  • Hyperfocus and Intense Criticism: ADHD superheroes have the incredible power of hyperfocus. However, this intense concentration can sometimes lead to self-criticism. They might set exceptionally high standards for themselves, and any perceived deviation from those standards can trigger feelings of being an imposter. The fear of not meeting their own expectations can be paralyzing.
  • Comparison to Neurotypical Norms: Living in a world primarily designed for neurotypical individuals, it's easy for those with ADHD to compare themselves unfavorably. They may see their differences as weaknesses rather than unique strengths. This constant comparison can perpetuate imposter syndrome, making them question their abilities and contribution.

How can we start to overcome imposter syndrome?

  • Embrace Authenticity: The first step in overcoming imposter syndrome is to embrace your authentic self. Recognize that your ADHD is a part of who you are, and it doesn't diminish your worth or abilities. Celebrate your unique strengths and experiences, knowing that they bring a fresh perspective and innovative thinking to the table.
  • Challenge Self-Doubt: When self-doubt creeps in, challenge those negative thoughts with evidence of your accomplishments and capabilities. Keep a record of your successes and refer to it whenever imposter syndrome tries to convince you otherwise. Surround yourself with a support network of trusted friends, family, or mentors who can remind you of your worth.
  • Seek Mentorship and Support: Reach out to individuals who have experienced similar challenges and have thrived despite imposter syndrome. Seek mentorship from someone who understands the intersection of ADHD and self-doubt. Connecting with others who have walked a similar path can provide validation, inspiration, and practical guidance.
  • Emphasize Growth and Learning: Instead of fixating on perfection, shift your focus to growth and learning. Understand that everyone, regardless of neurodiversity, is on a continuous journey of growth and improvement. Embrace mistakes as valuable lessons and opportunities for growth. Give yourself permission to be a work in progress, knowing that growth comes from embracing challenges and learning from them.
  • Celebrate Your Achievements: Take time to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Develop a gratitude practice where you reflect on your successes and express appreciation for your unique talents. Recognize that you are deserving of your accomplishments and allow yourself to bask in the joy of your hard work paying off.

What I’m saying is that this imposter syndrome thingy is not serving you and never has. So it’s now time to let it go.  But it will not be easy.  It’s just about creating some small habits that continue to challenge the inner critic sitting on your shoulder.  Show your inner critic love and curiosity not judgment.  

You are brilliant and have a unique superpower, so just lean into it.