Feeling Insecure About Being Insecure with Adult ADHD

October 30, 2018 Noelle Matteson

Are you feeling insecure and have ADHD? Learn why feeling insecure is common for ADHDers and what to do about it at HealthyPlace.

Feeling insecure is a common issue concerning people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Much has been written about ADHD and self-esteem, and, to me, low self-esteem and insecurity go hand-in-hand. An interesting article on FastBraiin describes a number of conditions associated with ADHD, including low self-esteem, insecurity, and anxiety.1 All three result from confusion about one's role, identity, or expected behavior. It makes sense that people with ADHD, whose thoughts can go all over the place, would experience this sense of confusion.

Why Are So Many People with ADHD Feeling Insecure?

Here are a few factors that can make ADHDers start feeling insecure:

  • Strong emotions: People with ADHD tend to have strong emotions, which can lead to black and white thinking and self-condemnation. Many of us experience "rejection sensitive dysphoria", which means that even perceived rejection can strike a major blow to our self-confidence.
  • Past failures: We also often feel that we have a history of failure. It can be genuinely difficult to make decisions when one can see so many possibilities, good and bad, and when one has difficulty prioritizing. These issues can make it hard to organize our lives and find consistency. Because of this, we might have given up on many projects or failed to live up to our and others' expectations.
  • Amnesia of success: When I do well at something, instead of basking in my success, I often decide that I must move on to something else. ADHD brains don't necessarily process the feeling of satisfaction that comes with accomplishment the way other brains do. Some description of ADHD list one of its symptoms to be "a chronic sense of underachievement, of not meeting one's goals, regardless of actual performance."2 In short, we can experience very real failures and harsh criticisms, but we also might remember those failures and forget our successes.

Interestingly, I have had a number of people refer to me as an incredibly confident person, while others have accused me of being insecure and shy. Perhaps these varied perceptions are because people with ADHD are sensitive to their circumstances--we can be very passionate and opinionated in one venue and visibly uncomfortable and uncertain in another. Unfortunately, this variability contributed to my uncertain sense of identity, and being called insecure only made me feel more unsure and frustrated.

What to Remember When You're Feeling Insecure

Something to note is that many people who are insecure come across as extremely confident. This fact actually makes me feel more confident. We might be emotional and sensitive, but emotions do not make one weak or insecure. A few other words of advice:

  • You can change your life. I often forget that little by little you can change almost any aspect of your life.
  • However, you do have to prioritize. What are your values? What is necessary for your physical, mental, and emotional survival? As mentioned, prioritizing is very hard for ADHDers, but every once in a while we must come to terms with the fact that we cannot take on everything.
  • Many ADHD experts urge us to follow our own paths instead of those set before us. If you cannot excel on someone else's terms, remember that you may very well be able to succeed on your own.

If you have ADHD, how do you deal with insecurities, or do you feel fairly confident? What aspects of your life make you feel comfortable with, and what parts make you feel more unsure? Please let me know, and thank you so much for reading.

See Also:

3 ADHD Upsides to Fight Insecurity

How to Stop Feeling Insecure and Start Feeling Confident

Don't Look Insecure: 6 Ways to Change Behavior and Be Confident


  1. FastBraiin Staff, "How to Recognize and Address the Emotional Symptoms of ADHD." FastBraiin, May 2017.
  2. Austin, Margaret, Natalie Reiss, and Laura Burgdorf, Symptoms of Adult ADHD., accessed Oct. 2018.

APA Reference
Matteson, N. (2018, October 30). Feeling Insecure About Being Insecure with Adult ADHD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 17 from

Author: Noelle Matteson

Find Noelle on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

November, 21 2023 at 8:48 am

Thank you for this article. I was just diagnosed with ADHD with anxiety and OCD tendencies at age 46. I obsess if I think I may have offended anyone then it spirals me into pulling in all of my "shortcomings" into this perfect storm of self abuse. So many facets that involves a plethora of insecurities that then leads to overwhelming shame and guilt around the insecurities. On the outside I am very confident and fun and willing to try new things but on the inside I feel trapped. I think most people who know me would feel shocked that I am this way. It truly makes me feel bipolor, which I know I am not. I am an over achiever and have accomplished a lot but nothing is every good enough. I just learned about 'rejection sensitive dysphoria' and it makes so much sense with the other symptoms I experience with the ADHD, so I appreciated the reference in this article. This is so helpful to me and hopefully others who constantly think there is something wrong with them or they are doing something wrong; or showing up in the world wrong, despite all that they have done or accomplished in their lifetime thus far. So, all to say, thank you for all this information so that we can have the resources to help ourselves and know we are not alone.

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