7 Reasons Why ADHDers seem Self-Centered

Are people with ADHD more self-centered than the rest of the population?Probably not. However, some of the characteristics of ADHD can give the appearance of being self-centered. As annoying as these characteristics might be to your loved ones and friends, they don’t stem from a mean or selfish place.7 Reasons Why ADHDers seem Self-Centerd

  1. Don’t Follow Traditional Rules

A very attractive quality ADHDers have, is seeing things differently from the rest of the world. You see things with fresh. inquisitive eyes.  This is how ADHD entrepreneurs become wildly successful. When people spend time with you, it feels exciting, empowering and that anything is possible.

The downside of this characteristic when someone wants you to follow a conventional rule and you don’t want to, is that it can appear self-centered. For example, your wife might want you to wear a suit to a wedding that you are attending.

Conventional thought is:

a.) It’s standard dress code for a wedding,

b.) Everyone else will be wearing one, and

c.) It shows the couple respect and that you care.

You on the other hand time think:

1.) Suits are itchy and that makes me grumpy,

2.) I don’t feel myself in a suit; it makes me feel restrained and changes my personality,

3.) Why would I want to look like everyone else, and

4.) Of course they know I care; I wouldn’t be going to the wedding if I didn’t.

  1. Extreme Self-Care

An ADHD friendly diet, daily exercise, meditation and 8 hours of sleep, all help reduce the negative aspects of ADHD. However, those things take time, every day; time you can’t be with and do things for people in your life. Rigidly following these things are as important as taking medicine. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it from this point of view.  They might say, ‘one day doesn’t matter,’ but it does! In our society, we place high value on doing things for others; doing things for yourself is seen as selfish.

  1. Advanced Planning

Sometimes ADHDers are impulsive but sometimes, you need to mentally prepare yourself before starting something. This is particularly true for the tasks that aren’t fun. Suppose you and your partner have a plan to go grocery shopping at 10am on Saturday morning. But they are ready earlier, it seems plausible for them to say ‘Hey, let’s go now’.

However, for you, it’s not such an easy request. You had mentally prepared to leave at 10am, and had primed your brain to transition from what you are doing to the new activity at 10am. If you are forced to change your plans, you can’t help but be grumpy and annoyed. To your partner, it looks strange that you can’t move away from Facebook to accommodate them.

  1. Communication

Some ADHDers really struggle with communication skills.  Here are some common things that people perceive as being self-centered:

– Interrupting a person to share a thought that popped into your mind. You wanted to share it straight away; otherwise, you would have forgotten it by the time they had finished talking.

– If a conversation is boring you, abruptly changing it to a topic that is interesting.

– When you are talking, you look at the other person. However, when they are talking you, you find it hard to look at them, so you look away, out of the window, etc.; all signs that indicate that they are boring you.

– If there is a gap in the conversation, you fill it. Often, you don’t want to be talking about what you are talking about, but you can’t seem to stop.

  1. Protecting Yourself

Growing up with ADHD diagnosed or not, is hard.  You get more rejections, put-downs and disappointments than your non-ADHD peers. As an adult, this can result in a high wall of emotional protection. When you are trying to protect yourself from getting hurt and rejected, you behave in ways that look distant: unhelpful, uncaring, and well, self-centered.

  1. Time Management

ADHDers aren’t naturally good at time management. A classic ADHDer behaviour is arriving late, unprepared, and unable to plan into the future. These are all things that people interpret as not caring and being self-absorbed.

  1. Poor memory

Like time management, memory is also one of the executive functions that causes problems in ADHDers’ lives. Remembering birthdays, personal details,etc. are things people attribute to you caring about them. When you don’t remember, the conclusion is that you don’t care because you’re too busy thinking about yourself!  What people don’t know is: you have to work very hard to do ‘simple’ daily things that they do without thinking.

Have you ever been called ‘Self-Centered?’ Leave a note for me in the comment section below.

 

 

Comments

  1. Eliza B says:

    Yup I’ve been called Selfish and self-centered ever since I can remember . my parents used to tell me that all the time and now my husband does. I think they are right sometimes but not as right as they think they are… But still I try to see things from their perspective and change for the better when I can. Otherwise I just ignore it… Which thankfully is easy to do with ADHD…

  2. Pepe says:

    I am in a long-distance relationship, so our communication is primarily by phone and Skype. I am constantly being distracted by everything within sight, and he takes it personally that I might be Messi g with my phone (though I’m listening to him). I often find myself saying “Oh my God, I have had him on hold for X amount of time.” Or I’ll discover I was in mid exchange with him, and haven’t replied for over 1/2 hour. He’ll have posted “hello?” and “I’m going to bed now.” I try to tell him that being with me is no picnic, but I can’t seem to get him to understand that I love him. I am just easily distracted.

  3. weena jensen says:

    I’m not exactly ADHD my self, but my best friend is. The reason why I found this webpage is that I’m seriously considering to allow my friendly relation with my friend to fade out. Simply because I find it difficult to cope with his behaviour. He is the most lovely and funniest guy, I have ever come across, and I’m grateful to be his friend. However, there are certain behavioural strikes that from time to time really upsets me. He constantly talks about himself – he’s a gifted storyteller. He never ever asks to my well being, and if I have been on holiday, he never asks how it went. When I manage to get a word in, he takes up the opportunity to tell me, how I should have handled a certain situation, and how I shoud have told the story in order to provide the listener from being bored and loose interest. I feel this kind of behaviour is hurtful and insulting, even though I do understand that it is not meant like that. The final straw – perhaps – was the present followed by a poem, I gave him for his birthday the other day. He never cared to open the gift, before a week later, and as for the poem, I had to listen for ages as to why this poem didnt please him. I know it sounds horrible, but I find it difficult to show acceptance and tolerance, when I myself feel trampled over.

  4. Randy says:

    My wife is ADHD. She appears to be very self centered, but because I know her well, I know that she isn’t. She is a very loving and giving individual. Knowing all that I know about her and her ADHD, it still doesn’t stop a squabbble or two that we might have when things just have to go her way. It takes a little persuasion on my part to get her to see the other side of things. It’s difficult being with a person who has ADHD. When she speaks, I am totally engaged. When I speak her eyes go glossy and she’s off who knows where. But, she is a good soul, with an outstanding loving heart. We have been together 23 years now. She’s a keeper.

    • Congratulations on your 23 year of marriage Randy! I love how you see behind the ADHD characteristics and see your wife’s loving nature. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    • Toni - Jan says:

      you are a good husband…keep it up.

  5. Casey says:

    Thank you for writing this! I was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD when I was 6, my by schools request, because my brain just jumped from one thing to another constantly. Today I am 22, in my 4th week of a new job where today they told me I took to long to do a task because I was not capable of multitasking very well (talking to another employee and completing the task) and my boss said it looked selfish on my part and that I didn’t take into consideration my other coworkers. This has been bothering me all day, I know it’s just simple criticism but I am anything but selfish. If anything, I am too willing to help others which ends in people taking me for granted. I just can’t seem to find the balance in work, and I wonder if going back on medication should be an option.

  6. Thank you so much for this, I’ve always been considered on bring selfish, I even got the name of queen jeri ( and not in a positive way.) Adhd has really affected my marraige, and now I know why. Thank you so much!

  7. Thit Thit Naing says:

    Yes, my friend called me selfish. When they are talking about things, I happened to talk some other topic that popped up in my mind. Sometimes my mind swift away on one to one conversation. They say “Are you listening or not listening at all??”. I said, “Of course, i am listening!”. They said, “Then how come you miss things??”. They pissed off.
    I thought i was always clumsy. I usually lost focus in the class, my mind swift away even if i am concentrating. When i was young i could´t do my homework at daytime because i was distracted by noises, couldn´t concentrate.
    My country still dont has competent professional doctors to diagnosize ADD. Although the online test shows possible ADD and have very much of the symtoms of it, i would like to know exactly what is happening to me. I suffer from low-esteem because i am different in my family, friends. I have problems with my friends.

  8. LcMG says:

    So then how does the partner of someone with ADHD get their needs met? I spend a lot of time being understanding and caring to my adhd spouse… but I’m not his parent! I have need and wants too… chief among them time and to feel heard. Your article is very enlightening, and I respect that most people with ADHD are misunderstood. But meeting the needs of the people you care about is never easy whether you have ADHD or not! We all have to pretzel a bit sometimes…is the answer really that it’s acceptable to be selfish and inattentive just because your intentions are good?

    • Hi LcMG, highly recommend you check out ‘The ADHD Effect on Marriage’ It will answer all your questions and concerns. Its written by a Melissa Orlov who married a man with undiagnosised ADHD. Very empowering for the partners of someone with ADHD.

  9. Jennifer says:

    I have no idea if I have ADD or not, never been to anyone for a diagnosis, but this list is so me! Except for the arriving late and being disorganized. But I have a super-organized mom and learned very young to be prompt and prepare ahead of time. If I don’t put the effort into getting ready and remind myself ten times of an appointment throughout the day, I’m late. I very much need time to transition and like things to be on a schedule. Number one is exactly how I feel about every wedding I’ve ever attended, including when I’m in the wedding party!

  10. Emily says:

    My dad has gotten mad at me for messing something up at the MINIMUM once a month. “What were you thinking? Why’d you do that?” And I tell him for the umpteenth time it wasn’t intentional. Man. ?

  11. Thank you so much for this post. I forwarded it to my 80-year-old mother and it was the first time she read something about ADHD that made sense to her (I was diagnosed 13 years ago, at 35) It’s such a clear, concise depiction of both what it feels like to be the ADDer and the parent/spouse/friend. You deserve the #1 ADHD site award. Thank you for what you do.

  12. Chris says:

    I can remember a joke, where I was when I heard it too. What I cannot remember is names. I introduced myself to my wife three times before I remembered her name. People I work with usually just get called generalized greetings. have also been daydreaming at my wife’s church since 2003. I can tell you maybe 10 people by name. If I know you but then see you somewhere else like the grocery store. They say hey Chris and I say how is it going. What I find interesting though. Is I can go somewhere once n and I will never forget how to get there.

  13. Angela says:

    I’ve been called selfish and every other term under the sun many a time. My own sister frequently loves to tell me “you’re actually a really horrible person”, she knows I have ADD, but she thinks that ADD is just having difficulties with getting motivated. She never believes me when I tell her that ADD affects EVERY aspect of my life, so frustrating.

    My parents NEVER talk about or acknowledge my ADD, they just call me stupid and lazy and tell me I never try hard enough at anything. No one understands me except one of my best friends, who has ADHD

  14. Meg says:

    I’ve recently broken up with my boyfriend. He is ADHD (diagnosed since childhood and again reevaluated in adulthood) but doesn’t like (actually hates) being defined by this label and was very hesitant about discussing or better still ‘educating’ me about it. I’m not perfect… no one is, but if I’d had been armed with this information earlier in our relationship, I could have been a more supportive partner. Infact, after reading your article, I feel I have been the selfish one. Everything you wrote is everything my boyfriend dealt/deals with on a daily basis and yes I thought a lot of it was premeditated and to purposely hurt me. He says he loves me, but can’t give me what I want, which is more of his time. Again, my insecurities and past relationships caused me to come to the conclusion he had probably met another woman and was letting me down gently. It goes to show that a very important part of any relationship, especially where adhd is involved, is communication and also trust. I wish things could be different as I am still very much in love with him, but I have been taught another good life lesson and maybe it has helped me be a better, more understanding person.

  15. AJB says:

    All the boxes are ticked here. It’s so hard because my girlfriend is constantly frustrated and angry with me, and while she says she tries to be understanding about my ADHD and not take it personally, she also continues to say that she thinks I use it as an excuse, and continually judges my behavior as irresponsible, insensitive, inconsiderate etc. she blows up at me for every little thing now because she is so frustrated. It’s maddening for me because it makes me feel guilty and insecure and terrible about myself. And it’s maddening because it’s so obvious to me that she deep down does not understand or accept that my ADHD makes me do things that translate in the ways you describe. She truly believes- or would rather believe- something more damning. I’m pretty sure that my ADHD and her response to it has contributed to what I’m almost positive will be the end of this relationship and it breaks my heart.

  16. Bliss love says:

    Am happy with what this article just taught me. Am called names by my father all the time and as I speak we are not in talking terms. He calls me very self-centered and selfish even when I try my hardest and do my best it’s never enough for him.
    He keeps thinking that I don’t care about him or anyone else but deep down in my heart I truly love him and my good friends too.
    I’ll go for a diagnosis this week and check out my self.
    Thanks for this heart ♥ warming article. God bless you Jacqueline

  17. Ignacio says:

    The person who wrote this article will be always in my heart…

    I have been diagnosticated ADHD last week and, of course, hiperfocus for four days reading EVERYTHING about it… This article is one of the most important ones I have found.

    THANKS!!!!

  18. Joseph C. says:

    Wow. Very eye opening to me. I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, though it’s recently been suggested that I have aspergers (and with what I’ve read about it I think I do), and have always had problems in relationships. I’m having problems in my current relationship, and it’s all because I’m apparently very selfish. I don’t mean to be, I apparently don’t recognize that I’m being selfish, but now I understand that it’s apparently a part of how my brain is just wired differently. Trying to process my thoughts and convey them in a non-selfish manner has proven extremely difficult, as I have always spoken very direct and to the point, though I still try to filter what I say even then. I don’t know how I can fix this as I love my girlfriend more than anything else in the world, but I apparently have to do something about my selfishness or I’m going to lose her. I don’t know how to fix this….please help!!! 🙁

  19. Roy Beangstrom says:

    I am an adhd adult , my wife and i are sepperaring because she tells me i am selfcentered , she says she understands adhd but clearly she dont , at this point i am a broken man and me rollercoster emotions are getting the better of me , impulsivness is a big problem for me as sometimes i do not think about the concequinces first then its the oops at the end of it , i have tried a pill called concerta but did not really help me , i have never recived any kind of help .

  20. Rivkele says:

    I have been called selfish by so many people, in so many areas of my life, at so many times…… That when I meditated and had a tantric opening in my mid twenties, my shadow emerged and told me I didn’t deserve to live.
    Luckily, I’ve done enough work that I have a different relationship to my shadow now – she is my 21-year-old, emotionally disturbed daughter in the back of my head. Ariella.
    Unluckily, my sister and I aren’t talking so much at this point. I’ve sent her articles like this one but it just annoys her because she HAS WORKED WITH kids with the same issues, and hates being told things she already knows (but chooses to forget with certain people).
    It’s painful. I just copied and pasted the link to email this to her, and then saved it as a draft. I feel like even sending this to her is like touching a porcupine. I also happen to be LGBTQQI and liberal… I feel like everything I am and everything I stand for triggers her – I interrupt people and never initiate contact, I have a gender-fluid sexual orientation and have gender-fluid friends (who also have disabilities and are the black sheep of their families), and think the old stadiums should be converted into free housing.
    The treatment from the rest of my family is a more gentle version of the same thing. Her friends are welcome to come to family functions, my friends are not, and there’s always an excuse that “has nothing to do with my friends.” It’s bullshit. I currently have the outlook that Family is bullshit and Acceptance is bullshit and Affirmative Action is bullshit.
    I’m sorry. I’m bitter. I admire those who aren’t.

  21. Patricia says:

    If I have been called self-centered, I probably never heard it. Typical ADHD behavior, I would guess.

  22. Jason says:

    Hit me right between the eyes…again! And my wife has many of these traits as well. It’s so helpful to get this level and type of validation. To feel known and to not like a lepper…absolutely priceless. Thank you, Jacqui!

  23. Lisa says:

    Thank you so much, I have been considered selfish for most of my life! At 40 years old, I have only recently realised and in the process of being diagnosed with adhd. The negative perceptions of others over a life time are difficult to unpack

  24. rebecca says:

    thanks so much, that’s really helpful, ill talk to his mum about it:)

  25. rebecca says:

    this article was really helpful, thanks!:) i was wondering if you could give me some advice, my next door neighbor is 5 years old and has adhd. his mum is super young (23) and i want to help her because it would be so hard to look after a kid but i don’t really know how to. his mum asked me to help get him to do homework, and i wanted to know if there are any ways to help really young kids with adhd to want to do homework and help them concentrate

    • Hi Rebecca
      For 5 year olds its best if you sit with them while they are doing their homework. If you are paying attention to the homework task its easier for them to pay attention to it too. Try and make it as interesting and fun as possible! After school children are typically tired and hungry so before your neighbour starts homework, make sure they had a little downtime, some healthy food and no TV. Its harder to concentrate on school stuff after TV time. Then you can do the homework and TV afterwards is fine.

      Check out this article, about Michael Phelps…particularly ‘Lesson 4’ which is about how Michaels mum made school work interesting for him…http://untappedbrilliance.com/michael-phelps/

      Hope that helps!!!
      warmly
      Jacqueline

  26. Brad says:

    Great article and great input! My wife and I adopted two children, both who have ADHD. Before our daughter was diagnosed with ADHD, in kindergarten, I was livid since she was getting into trouble every day. One day, after she had been sent to the principle’s office the 4th time in so many days, I remember yelling at her. In her trembling voice, I’ll never forget when she said, “I can’t help myself daddy”. I knew then that she truly couldn’t help herself. I saw things through MY own eyes and not hers. That was my fault. Both of my children are adopted and my son is a “drug baby” who suffers from many issues, including ADHD, anxiety, OCD, and RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). Our son, who we adopted at 6 years of age, has been extremely trying. He is a real life Forrest Gump. It has been extremely difficult dealing with both but through medication and treatment, both are doing much better. Loving them has been difficult because my daughter appears to be so selfish. Some of her selfishness is legitimate since she is only 13 years of age and was an only child for many years, all attention was given to her and she was spoiled. However, your article has helped shed light to help me realize and see that she is trying. I’ve learned to see and love my children through God’s eyes, that is to love other unconditionally. I’m going to take my kids out for ice cream today and learn and appreciate that the small things that they do for others does not come easily. Thank you again for such a great website!

  27. Cindy says:

    I am not diagnosed with A.D.D., but I tick most of the boxes. When I was a child they called children like me “A day dreamer”…so same thing, haha.I am just grateful to be finally be ABLE to hear someone else talk rather than the 100 things on my mind during conversations. This mindset plagued me for may many years and I am feeling calmer,(I wonder why?) but hey…I am almost 60. I have been told I have an anxiety disorder, since seeking counselling (because of bullying) and now I really think the nerves come from living with the A.D.D. for so many years. Fortunately, the hard part of this disorder gave me a LOT of compassion for the underdog. I ACTUALLY have a lot of friends now and a loving family life. I try to be more guarded, but my mindset makes me less so, and I get hurt by the insensitive. I would not trade places with ANYONE. Blessed.

  28. Mallory says:

    I can’t help but tear up reading this blog and the comments. I believe I may be ADHD and am going to the doctor soon to find out. Literally everything you described is me to a T. My boyfriend is nearly at his wits end with me. He often calls me selfish because I tend to do things without thinking, or I don’t remember things or don’t listen well. For years it has been hard to explain why I do the things I do, I honestly don’t know, I just wasn’t thinking. I do everything with the best of intentions but fall short and fail. I don’t mean to be selfish and hurt others, it’s just I don’t think! I hope there is hope for me to change.

  29. Sean says:

    My gf thought i wasnt considerate of her feelings because i tend to think of an end goal without thinking of little things ie. I need to go home (i then forgot to clean her cats litter box and clean trash up and stuff). Is that add related? Thanks!!

  30. Cecilie says:

    Oh, this article speaks right to my heart! Thank you!
    Im lying on my sofa, feeling like im about to have the biggest meltdown ever! So i grabbed my Phone, googled concerta pms adhd, and that led me right to this blog! And I am learning more about my ADHD and me, in one hour, then I have done in my whole life. This article in perticular really lifted my spirit UP again! So, Thank you for sharing! Im gonna keep reading ☺

    • Hi Cecilie! so happy you found the blog at just the right time!! and super glad that your sprits are Up again!! High fives!
      Yes..keep reading, and sign up for the newsletter too 🙂

  31. Spencer says:

    I thought it was just me who couldn’t handle changing plans when I worked so hard to organize them!

  32. Jessica Sager says:

    Your website is a godsend, Jaqueline. Yes, I’ve either explicitly been called selfish or have been left with such an impression. And, while I can tell you from logical left-mode processing of my brain that I’m clearly not selfish, the emotional/non-verbal right-mode makes a frowny face that clearly disagrees. 🙁 Darn those long-lasting mental maps!

  33. Natalie says:

    This article is exactly what I have experienced with every partner I have been in a relationship with. I didn’t know until 2 years ago that I have been living with undiagnosed ADD. Once diagnosed, my whole world has begun to change. There are so many helpful articles and books out there for people like me. This article is especially insightful, it is to the point and puts into words things that frustrate me when I try to explain them. My boyfriend call me selfish on a daily basis, he just doesn’t understand that it’s not the kind of selfishness that is premeditated to hurt him. It just happens and I the last thing I intend to do is hurt him, but I do. I will be printing this out for him to read. Thank you for this putting my thoughts into words.

    • Hi Natalie!! Very happy to hear that they article was helpful!! Educating those around you (if they are receptive) about how ADHD effects you can be very helpful. Great job getting diagnosed. I love what you said about your whole world starting to change when you found out about your ADD.

      • I have been with my partner for nearly 3,months now n whenever he says he will do something it never happens but whenever he has something he wants to do he seems to remember is this part of his adhd as its really getting to me now n I don’t no who or where I can turn to for advice

      • Hi Cheryl
        Yes that is part of ADHD!

  34. Jessica says:

    This article speaks VOLUMES to me! The more I’ve come to learn and understand how ADHD makes me tick, I do see how some behaviors make me seem self-centered when I’m really not. Unfortunately, it also me very anxious because it makes wonder how people view me through their eyes. Then when I try to backtrack and change it, I get more flustered and anxious before simply shutting down. It’s a balancing act that seems to be slowly getting better everyday, but as with everyone, some days are worse than others.

    • Hi Jessica, one thing I know for sure is that when ADHDers try to change it order to conform to what other people want them to be then their ADHD seems to get worse. They feel anxious and bad about themselves and lose confidence. Which is exactly what you have experienced. Rather than be a pretzel be proud of who you are. The understanding people in your life can tell that your underlying intention is good. xxoo

  35. Sorry to hear you are called selfish Lynette 🙁
    You aren’t!
    Unfortunately when you spend time with people like your ex, they make you nervous, anxious and on edge so you end up doing the things they don’t want to you do to more!! If you can spend as much time as possible with people that love you just the way your are, that find you leaving the light on by mistake funny you will shine and feel like a different person!!!
    xooxoxox

  36. Lynette says:

    I’m called selfish almost every day by my ex and current roommate. If I don’t remember some little detail about what we have planned to do, I’m selfish. If I forget to turn off the lights, I don’t care about how high the electric bill goes. On and on. It gets really discouraging. I’ve told him about my ADHD, but he doesn’t believe it’s real. I just need to try harder. I’m trying to get another job so that I can afford to move out, but with ADHD, that’s an overwhelming project!

  37. rich says:

    Great artical, I ticked all the boxes
    thanks Jacqui
    Rich

  38. Val Charman says:

    Oh Jacqui, that is such a good article! I was always told by my Dad ‘the world doesn’t revolve around you!’ It has really helped me to understand that my brain is wired differently to other people and that is why they don’t ‘get’ me 🙂
    x x x
    Val

    • Hi Val…yes you are right, your brain is wired differently!! and there is absolutely nothing wrong with different. In fact often its preferable!!!

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