That’s easier said than done, of course. Individuals with ADHD often struggle with loving and accepting themselves just the way they are. This Valentine’s Day, get in touch with what makes you worthy of love — not just from others, but from yourself, too.

Self-Esteem Issues with ADHD

Children with ADHD can receive as many as 20,000 negative or corrective comments before they reach the age of 10. That’s a startling number to hear, but it also helps to put in perspective just how much judgment, criticism, and derision people with ADHD face in comparison to neurotypical folks. These types of experiences shape someone’s self-perception, which is part of the reason why those with ADHD often struggle with low self-esteem.

As someone with ADHD goes through life, frequent criticism or misunderstandings can cause their confidence to be slowly worn away. They may begin to believe the negative feedback they receive to the point where they feel like a failure most of the time. Low self-esteem can also exacerbate other issues that people with ADHD often struggle with, such as higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Over the long run, being self-critical can cause someone to become reluctant to show their true self to others. They might avoid applying for a job they really want or trying to make new friends due to their low self-esteem. They can also develop unhealthy habits, like social isolation or a dependence on substances.

What Are the Keys to Self-Love?

In order to overcome the low self-esteem that often develops when someone has ADHD, it’s important to embrace self-love. But what does self-love actually entail? This term is wide-ranging and complex, but these four basic elements are essential for loving yourself.

1. Accept your true self

Self-acceptance can be difficult when you’re struggling with ADHD symptoms. But having ADHD is not a flaw, and it’s important to think of your condition as simply one facet of who you are. As you start to understand and value your worth, you will begin to see yourself as worthy of love.

2. Prioritize your needs

Loving yourself also means taking good care of yourself. You can’t run yourself into the ground always trying to please others. When you prioritize your own needs, you’re giving yourself the tender care that you deserve.

3. Set healthy boundaries

The more you love yourself, the less tolerant you’ll become of those who try to damage that self-love. You may need to distance yourself from people or situations that lower your self-esteem and undo the work you’ve done to accept and love yourself exactly as you are.

4. Give yourself grace

We all make mistakes sometimes, but it’s important to extend yourself the same forgiveness you’d give to a loved one. This includes situations where you feel like your ADHD symptoms have caused you to mess up. There’s no need to beat yourself up over something that’s largely out of your control.

How to Cultivate Self-Love

Think about all the acts of love you do for the people you care about. Practicing self-love requires making similar gestures, only this time, the beneficiary is you. Here are some of the ways you can show yourself some love this Valentine’s Day — or any day, for that matter.

  • Learn more about ADHD. If you find that one of the biggest roadblocks on the path to self-love is your ADHD, educate yourself on your condition. A better understanding of your neurobiology will put your ADHD symptoms in context and help you see yourself more kindly.
  • Take care of yourself. Do the things that make you feel good, like eating a balanced diet, practicing good hygiene, being active, and making time for rest. If you neglect your needs, you’re not loving yourself the way you ought to.
  • Find a supportive community. The people you surround yourself with impact how you view yourself. Develop a strong social circle of friends and family who support and love you.
  • Pursue an effective treatment plan. Constant issues with your ADHD symptoms can make it tougher to get to a point of self-acceptance. Talk to a licensed clinician to find out whether a different medication can make your ADHD easier to manage on a day-to-day basis.