Thumbs up, not down!

Thumbs upIf you believe you fall short compared to others, it’s natural to feel insecure or inadequate. But when you add in some ADD tendencies, like making careless mistakes or blurting out comments you later regret, it’s easy to understand the sense of incompetency, or even worse – the accompanying shame. As one client said, “but I am inadequate,” to which I strongly disagreed!

A Sense of Not Being Good Enough
A sense of inadequacy includes feeling incapable, incompetent or simply not good enough. You may be forgetful or mess up occasionally, but these things don’t make you inadequate, nor do they trump your capabilities. No one is on top of everything and the reality is that you may need to ask for help, set reminders, or even work harder than some. But repeatedly focusing on shortcomings is destructive.

It’s our cultural norm to focus on blunders and ‘areas for improvement’. We’ve been trained to seek perfectionism by scanning for weaknesses and correcting them. While improving ourselves is important, it’s also vital to consider our attitude and method of going about it.

Give Yourself a Thumbs Up!
Consider that kids with ADHD do best when they hear positive feedback three times more often than negative. That approach would probably serve adults well too. Are you shooting to be a person who never burns the toast or always says the perfect thing? Or could you go a little easier on yourself while still aiming to do your best?

If we take a nurturing approach that emphasizes our values and eliminates the need to master everything, we generally have more success. There’s a limited amount of time in our days – and in our lives. So put your best effort towards what matters most and let the rest be good enough.


  1. Don’t highlight your weaknesses.  While you may be acutely aware of any shortcomings, others aren’t always watching, despite what you imagine. If you’re in the habit of pointing out every little blunder, stop!
  2. Practice self-forgiveness.  This might go something like, “I have good intentions but I sometimes slip up, especially when I’m busy.  I forgive myself and will learn as I go forward”. 
  3. Learn to apologize well – but not excessively.  If you do something that negatively impacts those around you, apologize.  Keep it authentic and to the point. Many people apologize repeatedly, which can be a form of highlighting weaknesses and diminishing themselves.
  4. Avoid defensiveness.  It’s a natural tendency to defend oneself, particularly when you’re intentions are good.  However, when others points out a mistake, stay calm!  It’s not the end of the world and acknowledging and welcoming their comments can be the best way to handle it.
  5. See the humor.  While it’s frustrating to be disorganized or say the wrong thing, sometimes these situations are humorous. Try to keep things in perspective, appreciate your occasional goofiness, and laugh more often.
  6. Stop comparing yourself to others.  It’s easy to do, but not helpful. Everyone’s life circumstances and genetic make-ups are different.
  7. Never forget your worth. With a culture focused on weaknesses, it’s easy to ignore your best qualities.  Do whatever it takes to remind yourself that you have a lot to offer and are enough just as you are.

Self-judgment is at the core of feeling inadequate. Whenever you begin to notice self-critical messages, catch them before they settle in.  Remind yourself that you deserve the same compassion and patience that you would give to others.  Picture a Thumbs Up and decide to focus on what you did right!