How To Overcome Negative Beliefs

woman holding her own reflection in front of an orange sky

If you want to understand where your depression is coming from, you have to examine the negative beliefs you hold about yourself. And probably also about ADHD.

Some researchers think depression stems from unresolved trauma, not just neurochemicals.

I’ve spent some a lot of time talking with people about depression as it relates to ADHD. Specifically, how ADHD makes depression worse and vice versa.

We all have trauma. It’s pretty much impossible to get through life without any trauma at all.

There were a series of events in my life that could probably be considered traumatic.

One of my earliest memories is lying on the floor with my dad. We were watching television or reading or something.

He said something over his shoulder to my mom, and I said something, and the next thing you know my mother is throwing a plastic cup and toys at both of us. He did try to shield me from the flying objects.

What is interesting about this memory isn’t the memory itself, it is the fact that I still remember how I felt in that moment. My nervous system remembers it.

This memory, combined with countless others, created the basis of my core belief that the world is not really** a safe place. People are unpredictable, and you need to stay as quiet and small as possible to stay safe.

There is no cure for negative beliefs, just like there is no cure for ADHD. But you do have the power to reframe them for yourself. 

How to overcome negative beliefs


1. Know the Facts about ADHD and Depression

If you look at Thomas Brown’s model of EFs, emotion is number four.

The ADHD community is just beginning to talk about the emotional aspects of ADHD, and poor emotional regulation is still not always considered at the time of diagnosis. But it is a huge deal.

  • When you have ADHD you are at an emotional disadvantage because of your EF’s
  • ADHD makes it difficult to access our logical thinking in the pre-frontal cortex
  • When something traumatic happens we are less able to process through it, and more likely to become reactive
  • You are not alone, 55% of adults with ADHD will deal with depression at some point
  • You can often combine SSRIs and SNRIs with ADHD medication, see your doctor

2. Explore your own schema

WTH is schema?

Behavioral psychologists believe that schema develop throughout our childhood and allow us to categorize and store memories and information.

Think of the brain like a file cabinet – as we grow our brain files away all of the memories, good, bad, and ugly. The various files are our schema.

Schema are how we develop a sense of where we fit into the world.

If you grew up with ADHD, and you experienced a lot of negative feedback. Over time the negative files of your brain started to take up more space. Our brains have a built-in negativity bias, so the bad stuff is easier to recall than the good stuff.

The good stuff ends up in the bottom drawer where it’s harder to access.

Ask yourself, “What are my most powerful memories?”  That is how you start to explore your own schema.

3. Look at the big 3

There are three major core beliefs that can negatively impact our self-perception.

The first is lovability.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What past experiences and/or traumas left me feeling that I am not lovable?
  • Do I feel that I deserve love?
  • Have I ever felt loved?
  • How do I respond when someone shows me love?

The second is competency. Competency is your ability to get through life.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Could I get through life on my own?
  • What are my expectations of myself in terms of competency?
  • Am I independent in my thinking, or do I rely on the input of others?
  • Do I trust myself and believe in my competency?

ADHD adults lack self-trust, this is unfortunately backed up by research.

The third is worthiness.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I deserve to take up space?
  • Am I confident claiming my physical space? Or do I shrink myself?
  • What makes a person worthy?
  • How can I choose worthy behaviors and thoughts?

There are other unhelpful beliefs, but these are the three that seem to be the most common.

4. Get some perspective

We all have gifts. ADHD sometimes makes it a little harder to use our gifts, but they’re still there.

Perspective is important, which is why I wrote that whole post about blind spots.

It is easy to get bogged down in self-criticism and all the symptoms of ADHD that we are ashamed of. But it’s helpful to remember that ADHD is a part of you, not the whole thing.

Sometimes when I look at pictures or videos of myself all I can see is my nose. I’m quite literally blind to everything else. I do not see the whole picture.

When we think about only the ADHD – we are focusing on one aspect of ourselves and missing the beautiful whole.

There is no cure for negative beliefs, just like there is no cure for ADHD. But you have the power to reframe them and feel better. 

I love talking with women about life with ADHD. But even more, I love helping others feel better about themselves by shifting perspectives and uncovering blind spots.

Do you have any wonky core beliefs about yourself and ADHD? I’d love to hear about them.

As always take what is helpful, and leave the rest.


Much of this info comes from Alice Boyes, PhD

Her books are available on Amazon (Affiliate link. Please see my full disclosure)


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