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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.