I HAVE ADHD PODCAST - Episode #241

December 12, 2023

Why do ADHDers Struggle with Self-Trust?

One thing that I’ve noticed in myself and other adults with ADHD that I coach is a massive lack of self-trust.

We don’t trust ourselves to follow through. We don’t trust ourselves to make good decisions. We don’t trust ourselves to manage money wisely or to curb our impulsive spending habits.

We don’t trust that we’re good parents or that we’re good at our jobs. We are never really sure if we’re doing “the right thing” or if we’re “on track” with where we’re supposed to be.

For the average ADHD adult, life feels very wobbly.

Instead of feeling grounded within ourselves like confident adults, we often look to others to gauge how we’re doing. I can’t tell you how many ADHDers I’ve talked to who seem to live by the motto, “If other people are happy with me, then I can be happy with myself.”

Well, that stops now. Join me for this 2-part series on How to Build Self Trust (yes, even with ADHD). In today’s episode you’ll learn why adults with ADHD don’t trust themselves, and next week we’ll discuss what we can do about it.

We would love to have you join us in FOCUSED!



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Kristen Carder

Welcome to the I have ADHD podcast, where it’s all about education, encouragement and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carter and I have ADHD. Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor and challenges of adulting relationships working and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain, unlock your potential and move from point A to point B. Hey, what’s up, this is Kristen Carter and you are listening to the I have ADHD podcast. I am medicated, I am caffeinated. I am regulated and I am ready to roll.

It’s so good to be here with you today, I’m about to blow your mind with an intense episode on self trust. This is going to be a two parter. This is part one. Next week will be part two. And listen, I think that self trust is one of the most often overlooked difficulties of somebody with ADHD. We, as a general rule, seriously struggled to trust ourselves. I mean, for real, for real, this is a big thing. Now I’ve coached 1000s of adults from all over the world. And I happen to be an adult with ADHD myself. And I can say with competence that most of us struggle greatly with the ability to trust ourselves, our choices, and trust that we’re going to follow through and do the things that we say we’re going to do. Am I right? I’ve got so many thoughts, which is why we’re just diving right in, because this, this has huge ramifications on the way that we live our lives. Because if I don’t trust myself, then I’m going to agonize over my decisions, I’m going to delegate my authority to the people around me, which means I’m living reactively not proactively.

And I’ll probably play really small because I don’t know if I’ll follow through. So I’m gonna have trouble committing to the things that I actually want to do, because I don’t trust myself to see them through to the end. So this week, and next week’s episodes are coming from brand new content that I’ve developed for a course in my ADHD coaching program focused. So as you’re listening to this episode, and if you’re like totally resonating with what I’m saying, You need to join focus that I can walk you through step by step, how to build self trust, and you can have a community of people doing the work with you. And supporting you along the way. Listening to this free podcast episode is great. And so many of you have told me that this podcast has changed your life. And I’m so gosh, I’m so glad to hear that like what an honor. But self trust is a deep and layered issue. It takes time and specific work to change. So I am going to give you an overview of why we don’t trust ourselves. That’s what we’re talking about today. And next week, I’m going to talk about what we can do about it. But I promise you it is not as simple as just listening to a 30 minute podcast episode and just like moving on with your life.

So if you have the ability to join me in focus, please do it. Okay, because as we get into the content of this episode, you’re going to understand what I mean by this is a deep issue. So anyway, this is your reminder that I’m teaching this course in my focus ADHD coaching program live in January. And if you’re listening to this in real time, listen up. I know you’re tuning out right now I want you to listen, I have a huge sale coming after Christmas, like the biggest sale we’ve ever done. And I don’t know if we’ll do it again. But we’re trying out something new. So I’m going to be telling you about it later on in this episode. So stay tuned for that. Okay. Now, if you’re not listening to this in real time, if you’re catching it later on, that’s wonderful. So glad you’re here. And I want you to know that I will always keep the self trust course in tier one of the focus program, which means you will always be able to access it as soon as you join. Hi. Alright, so let’s get started. One thing that I’ve noticed in myself and other adults with ADHD that I coach is a massive lack of self trust. We don’t trust ourselves to follow through. We don’t trust ourselves to make good decisions. We don’t trust ourselves to manage money wisely, or curb our impulsive spending habits. We don’t trust that we’re good parents or that we’re good at our jobs. And we’re never really sure if we’re doing the quote unquote, right thing. Or if we’re quote unquote, on track with where we’re supposed to be. For the average ADHD, adult life feels very wobbly. Instead of feeling grounded within ourselves, like competent adults, we often look to others to gauge how we’re doing. Now I can’t tell you how many ad tears I’ve talked to, who seems to live by the motto of if other people are happy with me, then I can be happy with myself. Now this is called an external locus of evaluation. And we’re going to be talking about that later on in this episode. When we have a decision to make, we often look outside of ourselves to get advice so that we don’t have to rely on our own internal compass because do that That thing seems like it’s broken like it is straight up broke. And honestly, where can we go and buy one of those, like, I’d love to just add to cart on Amazon.

If I could just buy an internal compass, if you could just go and buy it, life would be so much better, it’d be so much easier, right? But seriously, I’ve spent the entire year of 2023 really focusing on developing my own self trust. It’s been a huge transformation for me, one that is still ongoing. I’m certainly not done. But let me tell you, I have made some serious progress. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that I feel the difference. Daily, like several times a day, I’m feeling a massive difference in my ability to trust myself. Now, unfortunately, self trust is not available for purchase on Amazon. It has come for me personally, from a lot of book reading, and therapy appointments, and meetings with my personal coach and a ton of uncomfortable practicing over and over and over. For me, it’s been a process of cobbling together different resources to build a roadmap with the beautiful destination of I trust myself, and I do. I just, I’m so grateful. I do I trust myself, I trust that my perspective is valid. I trust that I make wise decisions based on the best information possible. And I trust that even when a decision doesn’t work out in my favor, that I will be able to pivot and work it out. For the first time in my life. And I’m being truthful. For the first time in my life, I do feel a deep sense of groundedness I feel self assured, I feel steady. It’s incredible. And I want that for you.

And my hope is that I’ve done all of this work, so that I can create a roadmap for you to follow in the area of self trust. I’m hoping that I’ve done the excruciating labor so that you don’t have to work so hard. That’s what I’m hoping. One of the things that I love about being a podcaster and a coach, and one of the things that I think I’m gifted at is gathering information, synthesizing it, distilling it down for the ADHD brain. And that’s exactly what I’m hoping for, with this podcast, and ultimately with the course on self trust. Now, self trust is a really interesting concept. Everybody wants it. Most ADHD ears don’t think they have it, and almost no one has a clear definition of it. Am I right? Like, how would you define it? When I asked someone with ADHD, what does self trust mean to you? They usually give me an answer that sounds something like this. I’m not sure. But if I had self trust, I would know I would be able to believe that I make good decisions. Now Kristen Carter is going to insert her subtext here. Because I think the subtext of this comment is, every decision I make would work out perfectly. In order for me to trust myself, all of my decisions have to be perfect. The ADHD ear will also say, Listen, if I had self trust, I would know that I’ll always follow through on doing what I say I’m going to do. And Kristen Carter is going to insert her own subtext here again, honestly, I think what the ADHD are means is I should be able to set and meet completely unreasonable expectations, and never disappoint anyone, including myself, like, Whoa, my heart breaks when I hear this.

And when I think about our definition of self trust, because we’ve all made some decisions that haven’t worked out, right. And because of that, we think that we can’t trust ourselves. Now, a neurotypical person also makes decisions that don’t work out. But they don’t use that as evidence that they can’t trust themselves. And because we struggled to follow through, on doing all of the delusional things that we commit to and say we’re going to do, we think we can trust ourselves now. It’s not, it’s not great. And what’s even worse is that people with ADHD think that the only way to build self trust is to start making perfect decisions, which is never gonna happen. We’re never going to be at a place in our lives, where every single decision that we make is perfect and beautiful and works out excellently in our favor, right. And an ADHD or will tell me that the way to build self trust is like, I just need to start honoring my word to myself.

Okay, so we’re going to make a correction here. No, at least his backup honoring my word to myself is such a toxic coaching thing to say. I’ve heard coaches say, How in the world will you be able to trust yourself if you don’t honor your word to yourself? And that is such neurotypical BS because listen, an ADHD ear is overcome Meeting constantly, there is no way that we can always be honoring our word to ourselves. Because we set so many unrealistic expectations for ourselves. And we’re going to unpack all of this in the course. So we’re going to make some corrections. self trust, is not living a life of perfection, where every decision works out for the best. And you’re magically able to follow through on every often unreasonable thing that you say you’re going to do. That can’t be self trust, we cannot define it that way. No, no, no. And if you are defining it that way, it makes complete sense, that you’re telling yourself that you can’t trust yourself, right? Because if your definition of self trust includes perfect decisions, and perfect follow through, well, then of course, you can’t trust yourself. Okay, so we’re gonna, we’re gonna be just fine. We got to redefine. So I’m curious if you are resonating with the way that I have heard self trust be described? Is your definition of self trust similar in that, you would say like, Yeah, I know, the decisions that I make will be right.

And I know that I’m going to follow through on everything I say, I’m going to do is that how you’ve been defining self trust, just take a minute and think it through. And I’m also curious what you think needs to happen in order for you to achieve self trust, like to build it? Do your answers sound something like I have to prove to myself that I can trust myself, I have to honor my word to myself, I have to always do what I say I’m going to do. Now, all of that is understandable. I think society has set us up to believe that but I do not think it is true. I’ve got shocking news. And that news is that I refuse to define self trust in the ways that we’ve discussed previously. The way that I define self trust is, I believe that my experience is real and valid. I know that I will take care of myself in the process of this life. And I will always figure out how to move forward, no matter what I know my experience is real and valid.

I will take care of myself in the process. And I will figure out how to move forward no matter what, that my friend is self trust. I’m curious. How does that sit with you? What do you think about that? So a reminder, self trust, I believe is, I trust that my experience is real and valid, I know that I will take care of myself in this process. And I will figure out how to move forward no matter what. Now next week, I’m going to be giving you some very specific tips on how to build self trust. Now, don’t get too excited. Like it’s gonna be a great episode, but also is going to take some major work. But before we get there, I think it’s really important to take a look at why do we ADHD or struggle with self trust? Why is this such a big issue for us? So how is self trust built in the first place? Now self trust is a developmental process that’s built in childhood and through adolescence. So this is a developmental milestone that many of us ADHD years did not have the privilege of achieving, okay, healthy self trust is built when good enough caregivers not perfect caregivers, but good enough caregivers, like parents and teachers and aunties and uncles and like anybody who’s in your life, validate your needs enough. validate your emotions, enough, validate your perception and experience of the world enough.

Notice I’m saying enough, doesn’t have to be perfect. But just that there’s enough of that, okay? help you to build autonomy, which means encourage you to become your own person apart from them, and help you to build self reliance and self resilience by letting you make mistakes without shaming you for them. So when good enough caregivers do that list, in a good enough way. Again, we’re not looking for perfection. It does not need to be perfect. But like if you have an experience where in general, your needs were validated, your emotions were validated, your perception and experience was validated. And you were allowed to build autonomy and you were helped to build resilience and self reliance without being shamed. When that happens, a child develops a healthy dose of self trust and an internal locus of evaluation. Some of you may call it an internal locus of control, but I really love the term internal locus of evaluation, because I like the idea of evaluating things not Other people’s perspective, but from my perspective, so an internal locus of evaluation means I value what I think more than what others think. I’m confident enough to value my own perspective over other people’s perspective, not to say that we don’t take feedback, and we don’t listen to other people’s perspective.

But most people with ADHD do not have an internal locus of evaluation, we have an external locus of evaluation, which we’ll talk about in a second. So anyway, as you look back in your childhood, I’m curious, did your caregivers help you to build self trust? Let’s just take a second here. Now, unfortunately, many of us did not grow up with caregivers who were healthy enough to help us to build self trust. This, again, it’s not about blame. It’s simply about noticing what’s true. It’s simply about living in reality, okay. Now, if they weren’t able to help us build self trust, it may be because of their own mental health conditions, or their own emotional immaturity or ADHD, lack of knowledge about what’s necessary for a child. Some of you had parents that were truly trying their best, but it just was not what you needed. And some of you were neglected, there was outright neglect or abuse, which, gosh, I’m just holding so much space for. We all have different experiences with our childhoods, and with our parents. And some of us had parents who were very, very well meaning and truly did their best, and others simply did not. Okay. And so I want to acknowledge that this might be a very painful moment for you. And I do want to honor that.

And I do want to say it’s not about blame. It’s just about seeing reality, where your needs validated enough, where your emotions validated enough? Was your perception and experience of the world validated enough? Were you able to build autonomy and self reliance and self resilience without shame? If the answer to those questions are no, it makes complete sense that you struggle with self trust, because it is a developmental process that you missed out on. If you don’t have self trust. It’s because this developmental process was not afforded to you. So let’s just take a moment here and say, you can stop blaming yourself. You can stop blaming yourself, you can stop blaming yourself for not having self trust. Yeah, how about that, you can stop attributing your lack of self trust to your decisions or to your lack of follow through.

Okay, we can start calling it what it is, which is a developmental process that many of us missed out on writing. So self trust, this developmental process is missed. It’s not built, when caregivers cannot or do not offer us what we need, as we develop. So instead, they may dismiss or demean your needs, they may dismiss the mean or even punish you for your emotions. They’ll invalidate your perception and experience of the world. Maybe punish you for becoming your own person, shame you, when you make mistakes, shame you for when you’re trying to like do your own thing and be self reliant. And so when your caregivers are not able to provide those specific needs for you, a child will always, always learn that they themselves cannot be trusted. Okay.

And that’s so sad that the child will take the blame and deem themselves untrustworthy. Now, the person will also then develop an external locus of evaluation in order to keep themselves safe. So an external locus of evaluation is when we value or trust what others think and what others want, and use their opinions and preferences to make our decisions. Does that sound familiar? Let me say it again, an external locus of evaluation means I value or trust what others think over what I think. And I use other people’s opinions and preferences to make my decisions about my life. Like wow, okay, someone with an external locus of evaluation will not have an internal compass, or it’s kind of clunky or broken or you know, it’s not working properly, and they’ll really struggle with self trust. It will feel unsafe and uncomfortable to trust yourself. Especially Li, if others disagree or disapprove, okay, now, I want you to know that those of us who have an external locus of evaluation, and I will be the first to raise my hand and say, this is the way that I lived for 40 years of my life, those of us who had an external locus of evaluation, develop this as a safety mechanism, I need to make sure that I am not rejected, I need to make sure that I can fit in with this family or this school or this friend group or this office environment.

And so I need to make sure that I’m valuing other people’s opinions above my own. I wonder what is coming up for you now? Gosh, I wish we were having a face to face. This is why we need to join focused everyone so that we can look each other in the eyes, and I can see how you’re doing. Oh, my goodness. Okay. So, next week, what we’re going to talk about is how do we shift from people who look outside of ourselves for answers to people who are grounded within themselves. And this is the process that I have been going through in the last year is making sure that I am becoming someone who is grounded within herself, who of course, looks to the people that she trusts for feedback, and for support and for help. But ultimately, I am okay to make my own decisions. Ultimately, I am able to evaluate what I think is best, and make a decision and move forward. Even if it doesn’t work out. For me. Remember, the definition of self trust is not I make perfect decisions all the time.

And I always follow through on what I say I’m going to do. That’s, that’s no, that’s that’s perfectionism. That is perfectionism. That is unreasonable. And that’s never going to happen. We have to stop defining self trust in that way. Instead, we’re going to define self trust this way, I believe myself, I believe that my experience is real and valid, I know that I will take care of myself, I know I’m going to I’m going to I know myself, and I’m going to take care of myself. And I will figure out how to move forward, no matter what that is what it means to trust yourself. And I just really encourage you to do two things. First of all, reflect on whether or not you were afforded the luxury of having self trust built for you in childhood. Is that a luxury that you had? If it is, gosh, I am so happy for you. I am so happy for you. But if you are like me, and that is not a luxury that you had, that is not something that was built for you in a healthy way in childhood, then I want you to really just think that through just a tiny bit.

What was it like for you when you had a need? Was it listened to? Or was it dismissed? Were you told You’re being too dramatic? Were you told that you were so needy? And so knowing my gosh, it’s you’re a very hard child to parent? What was it like for you when you had a big emotion? Were was there space for that? Was there somebody that you could go to? And cry with? Or be excited with? Was there somebody that was safe enough to kind of take you in their arms and say, Tell me everything? What you’re experiencing right now is totally normal? Did you have people in your life who saw your gifts? And who encouraged you to be your own person who thought like, the different aspects of your personality were so awesome, and they wanted you to like continue to develop them? Did you have people in your life? Who when you made a mistake, you didn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed, but you could talk to them about it and make a plan of how to like, figure it out? Okay?

If not, then you probably struggle with self trust. And it makes sense. It’s not because you’re a bad person. It’s not because you struggled to follow through, it’s not because you make quote unquote, bad decisions is because that was not a developmental process that you were able to complete. Okay. Truthfully, building self trust takes time. And I’m curious about this. What if 2024 was the year for you to build self trust? What if you committed your 2024 Which, by the way is like next week, to being the year when you do the work of learning how to trust yourself? What what could change for you? What could be better for you? How would you feel differently than you do now? Now, there are multiple ways to do this. If this is a commitment that you want to make, you get to choose how Do you want to do it, but I am so committed to helping you make this a reality that I’m going to be offering my biggest sale yet in my focus program. I’ve never done it before. I don’t know if I’ll do it again. But right after Christmas from December 26 to 31st, you’ll be able to join focused with the promo code self trust, and save 35% off your first month’s fee. That’s a savings of $70. It’s huge. So you enjoin focused for your first month at 129. Now, that’s incredible.

I’m so excited about it. But I also understand the complete annoying irony of needing self trust in order to make a commitment to joining focused and learning about self trust, right? Like, if there was a definition of irony, this would be it is crazy, like, how can you trust that this is going to be a good decision for you without self trust, right? Okay. Even though next week is going to be about tips for building self trust, I do want to give you some parameters of how you can really get still with yourself and try to figure out if this is a good decision for you. So first, we’re just going to pause here and you can do this here with me if you want. Pause and breathe. Is this a yes? Or no in your gut? Now I know that your thoughts are going, I can’t trust my gut.

My gut makes bad decisions. But I’m just curious, we don’t need to judge it. But is it a yes or no in your gut. The next step would be do some research, go to my website, I have adhd.com/focused and read all about the program, learn about the format of the program, see if you think that it looks like fun, or something that you want to take part in. And then lastly, you’re gonna want to like do the math, see if you can pay for it. And I encourage you to really, truly make it about math. There’s a lot of feelings that we have around money, but I am curious about the math. Does the math work? Is it possible? Can you make this work without harming yourself? Okay, so understand, lastly, that this program, the focused ADHD coaching program was created by someone with ADHD. For people with ADHD, you will never be more seen more heard more cared for more held than you are in this group. I mean, I guess that’s like, too bold of a statement to say, but I mean, I would challenge anyone on that there is no other place that is as supportive and kind and welcoming and loving, and shame free, judgment free and all of the support that you get.

So as you’re thinking through, gosh, dang it, I need self trust in order to decide whether or not I’m going to take this course on self trust. Those are kind of just some parameters that you can use to think through and make your decision. And whatever you decide is the right decision. Whatever you decide is a decision that I support, okay? Because I trust you. Even if you don’t trust you, I trust you. You are grown adults, you are an autonomous adult, you are super intelligent, because Hello, you’re listening to this podcast, like, You’re smart. And so I trust you no matter what you decide. Don’t forget December 26 to 31st Enter the code itself trust and get 35% off your first month in focus. That’s a savings of $70 I cannot wait to talk to you next week where I’m going to give you legitimate tips on how to build self trust.

I’ll see you then. Bye bye. Hey, ADHD, or I see you I know exactly what it’s like to feel lost, confused, frustrated and like no one out there really understand the way that your brain works. That’s why I created focus. Focused is my monthly coaching program where I lead you through a step by step process of understanding yourself feeling better and creating the life that you know you’re meant for. You’ll study be coached, grow and make amazing changes alongside of other educated professional adults with ADHD from all over the world. Visit Ihaveadhd.com/focused to learn more

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