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Validating individuals with ADHD

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

A gold ring on a dark green background.  The white writing inside  reads "True validation starts when we are heard, respected and believed."

Validation is when a person, their feelings, opinions or needs are valid or worthwhile.

Some look for the approval of others for validation of self worth, some look for validation for the choices we make in life, but there is another form of validation that I have been privy to a lot.

I have had a higher number of enquiries lately, some are about ADHD coaching, others are about seeking support. For all I have set up initial calls.

In these initial calls we have discussed ADHD from an individual’s perspective as opposed to the generic view; the struggles, strengths, the need for accountability. Genuine authentic conversations around what ADHD looks like and how it intertwines with everyday life.

Many of us go through life thinking that because the way we function is different to others, we are not normal, we are getting it wrong, we are broken.

The words of individual’s and society as a whole, are given permission to echo and influence our thoughts with words such as lazy, disorganised, forgetful and a whole host of others that are wrong on so many levels that I refuse to add them here.

We all have our own stories to tell.

In this first initial contact, I get a taste of these, as people describe what life is like and what they are struggling with. It gives me an idea of what I could potentially be working on with a client (although I never know for sure as sessions are client led).

I hear about issues and struggles that are very common among those of us with ADHD. Things that, up until the point of conversation, many have thought are unique to them. It certainly desn't mean that they are, but they may not know people who struggle in the same way, therefore consider themselves to be failing on some scale.

Up until this point, some thought it was just them and that all the unhelpful negative judgements and elements of shame that had been reverberating round their heads for years were just, punishing themselves for not meeting the expectations of others and society as a whole.

During these calls I am happy to share with the individuals that their issues and struggles are common with ADHD and they aren't alone in experiencing them. There is nothing wrong with them.

For some there is a sense of disbelief on hearing it, almost an element of shock. For others there is a sense of relief in knowing that it isn't just them.

All of this from a simple conversation.

Like all of us with ADHD, our brains are wired differently and that is why we struggle with everyday tasks. There are workarounds and solutions, it's the matter of finding what they are.

At the end of these intial calls I always ask one question - how are you feeling now we have talked?

And each and every person lately has replied with one word - validated.

That validation comes from being heard without judgement, receiving a reply without criticism, and being believed without scepticism, as well hearing that they are not alone in their struggles.

Whether or not these individuals decide to go one step further and commence with ADHD coaching with me or not really isnt inportant, what's more important is the value they take away from the call.

If one phone call is the start of someone getting a better understanding of their ADHD and an opportunity to talk to another who understands, then that is what matters the most to me.

Obviously as a coach I'm always happy to take on new clients, I'm passionate about what I do. There's also no point in lying, the money does come in handy. I have bills to pay too.

But what sits with me right now is that there really is something to the saying 'Find Your Tribe'. For some who call, I have been the first person they have openly spoken to about their ADHD. I am a member of the tribe. I certainly don't claim to understand it all, my struggles with ADHD could be completely different, but I do get it.

Part of me hopes that this one call not only validates, but also introduces them to what it is like being a member of that tribe and starts to create that sense of belonging, especially in a world where many of us feel we don't quite fit in.

Validating people with ADHD is something I hope to continue doing for many years to come.

Like most things in life that have true value, there doens't always have to be a monetary cost. Validation means everything, yet costs nothing.

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04. Feb.
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Interesting post! Your niche of coaching is different than mine, but nevertheless, very valuable to see the world from your eyes to improve my own presence and attention.

Best Regards, Helge, trilingual Coach, based in Switzerland

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