July 7 marks Global Forgiveness Day. Founded in 1994 by the Christian Embassy of Christ’s Ambassadors (CECA), this day serves as a reminder of the power of forgiveness in our lives. It's not just about being able to forgive someone who wronged you. It's also about what kind of effect forgiveness can have on your well-being.
Having ADHD can make forgiving someone more complex — even if the person that you need to forgive is yourself. Learn more about how to embrace forgiveness in your life and how your ADHD fits into that.
Conflict and ADHD
When you have ADHD, it can feel like you're dealing with conflict much more frequently than the average person. But looking at the symptoms of the condition, it's easy to see why. Many of the behaviors associated with ADHD can potentially strain relationships with partners, family members, friends, and coworkers. Consider the following examples:
- Difficulty concentrating: You struggle to pay attention during a conversation, and your partner feels ignored and devalued.
- Poor organization: Family members feel like they're constantly having to clean up after you around the house.
- Forgetfulness: ADHD-related forgetfulness leads you to miss an important deadline, a friend's birthday party, or your child's school event.
- Impulsivity: You blurt out a hurtful comment, or you make impulse purchases that strain the family budget.
These are just a few examples of ways in which ADHD symptoms can create conflict in your life. It's tough to feel like you're constantly asking forgiveness for things which are somewhat out of your control. After all, you didn't ask to have ADHD. It's just something you're trying your best to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Situations like the ones described above can often lead to arguments. The people in your life feel wronged, and they may say things they don't mean in the heat of the moment. This complicates things since, in addition to feeling like you need to be forgiven for your ADHD behaviors, you now need to forgive someone else for the hurtful way in which they responded.
How an ADHD Brain Approaches Forgiveness
There are two sides to the coin of forgiveness in the ADHD brain. The first side comes up when you feel as though you need to be forgiven for something you've done. This can be particularly difficult since people with ADHD are more likely to experience rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD), which causes intense emotional pain when feeling rejected or criticized by others. If you mess up or feel that you didn't live up to someone's expectations, it's no surprise if you're especially hard on yourself as a result.
The other side of the coin comes up when you need to forgive someone who has hurt you. The emotional dysregulation and anger issues that often accompany ADHD could make you prone to holding a grudge. People with ADHD may also struggle with empathy, which can make it harder to see things from another's perspective and forgive them for their mistakes.
Tips for Embracing Forgiveness with ADHD
Although having ADHD can create some obstacles to forgiveness, there's good news. These roadblocks are possible to overcome, especially if you work on embracing forgiveness in one or more of the following ways.
Ask friends and family members for forgiveness
Being forgiven for your own mistakes can be incredibly healing. But that forgiveness isn't always freely given. It's a choice that someone has to make rather than an automatic response. You may need to ask for it outright and offer assurances that you’ll do your best to avoid the same mistakes in the future. Asking for forgiveness can be intimidating, but the release from your emotional burden is well worth the effort.
Reach out to someone you want to forgive
Being forgiven always feels good, but it helps to be the forgiver, too. It's more than just an act of kindness that you're doing for someone who has hurt you. It can also improve your physical and mental health since it releases you from the stress and anguish that can come from holding a grudge. Think about whether there is someone in your life who you haven't forgiven yet, and if reaching out to them to offer forgiveness might benefit you both.
Share your own experiences with forgiveness
Talking about forgiveness is a great way to embrace its role in your life. By having a discussion about the experience, you can process the emotions you've gone through and the effects that being forgiven or forgiving someone else has had on you. There are many ways you can share your experiences, including private discussions with friends, talking to a therapist, attending a support group, or even creating a social media post or blog post.
Consume media that explores the power of forgiveness
If you're feeling stalled when it comes to forgiving someone else or asking for forgiveness, look for examples in the media. True stories, like a daughter who forgave an abusive mother in her old age, can inspire you in your own life. There are also fictional stories that can provide just as much inspiration, including movies like Dead Man Walking and Atonement. Look for stories that show the transformative effects that forgiveness can have on people's lives to help give you the push you need to forgive others or ask for forgiveness.
Remember to forgive yourself
Living with ADHD isn't a cake walk. It comes with its own set of trials and tribulations. And while it's good to push yourself to do better and find ways to deal with your symptoms effectively, there are also times when you need to give yourself a little grace. You won't be able to perfectly manage your ADHD every single day. There will be hiccups along the way, so it's important to practice forgiving yourself for the times when you stumble. The more you offer yourself forgiveness, the more you can build empathy and compassion for others for their own shortcomings.
The Benefits of Forgiveness
Forgiveness doesn't always come easy, but it's always worth it. The following are some of the physical and mental health benefits of forgiveness to keep in mind:
- Lessening stress, anxiety, and depression
- Reducing blood pressure levels
- Improving cholesterol levels
- Lowering the risk of heart attack
- Strengthening the immune system
- Alleviating pain
It's also important to consider the social benefits of forgiveness, like healthier relationships and improved self-esteem. Don't underestimate the power that these benefits can have for your overall well-being and the success of your ADHD management efforts.