Have you ever struggled with feelings of shame, constantly comparing yourself to others and feeling inadequate? Shame can be used as a behavioral tool, often leading to a destructive cycle of self-blame and internalization of problems. The effects of shame can impact mental health, such as increased risk of depression and anxiety disorders.
In this episode, Lacy delves into the complex relationship between ADHD and shame. She discusses the importance of understanding the role of shame in our upbringing and how it shapes our perception of ourselves. Reflecting on her own experiences with shame and destructive behaviors, Lacy shares profound insights on shifting from shame to guilt, embracing surrender to Christ, and finding self-forgiveness and personal transformation.
Links & Resources:
Blog post, ADHD And Shame: The Who, What and Why
Julie Slattery, Finding the Hero in Your Husband
1 Peter 1:5
2 Peter 1:3
Ep. 19: Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria and ADHD
Reach out to Lacy Estelle via:
Facebook group: @anADDwoman
Lacy’s Facebook group:
Mothering the Storm Accountability and Support Group
S2E9 ADHD And Shame What Do We Do With It
[00:00:00] Hey guys, it's Lacey with An ADD Woman, and today I wanna talk about shame. So some time ago I wrote a blog post about shame called Shame. The who, what, and why. The premise of the blog post was to understand the underlying emotion that comes with having ADHD your entire life. And having tried to correct.
[00:00:29] The problems it causes in your interpersonal relationships. So today I kind of wanna revisit that blog post, um, but I wanna shed some new light on it in, um, respect to how we view shame, what we do with that feeling, how we can use it to motivate us to do better. And also, you know, when we take that internalization of ourselves, um, that shame causes.
[00:00:56] And compare it to who Jesus says we are. So this is gonna be good.
[00:01:06] Welcome to An ADD Woman podcast. I'm your host, Lacey Estelle, a Christian, a wife, a mother, a fellow, ADHDer a writer, and now a podcaster. This is the podcast where we talk about ADHD from a Christian woman's perspective and everything, it intersects with our moods, our work, our relationships. The list is endless.
[00:01:29] We're going to dig deep into the core of our faith. We're putting our brains under a microscope and measuring ourselves based on the truth of God's word. It's not going to be easy, but I know it will be worth it. So are you ready to embrace joy? Peace. And even some self-discipline or are you perfectly content with life passing you by while you procrastinate doing the dishes for the 600 time?
[00:01:53] The truth is understanding our ADHD brains won't always be comfortable. In fact, I'd venture to say the more I know my brain, the more frustrated I can become with it. But there is wisdom in embracing it and there his joy in peace in molding it to a mind of Christ, not of ourselves, but you have to want it.
[00:02:11] So do you. Do you want more peace, patience, and productivity? If so, you are in the right place to get started. I wanna talk about my experience, um, a little bit, and you may have had the same experience, but one thing that I struggled with for a long time was feeling this overwhelming sense of shame for.
[00:02:39] Everything. Everything I couldn't do, right? Everything I could do, right? But missed the mark. And when I think about this, I wanna kind of define, you know, what exactly is shame, you know, based on a good definition. What am I actually talking about here? So shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress.
[00:03:01] Caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. So she was hot with shame or if we were to use it in um, a verb, I tried to shame him into giving some away. So if I think about shame from that aspect, I think a lot about how shame was definitely used as a behavioral component in my upbringing.
[00:03:27] I was, um, made to feel. Bad about the um, behaviors that I modeled that were less than desirable, right. Well, when you have a D H D, a lot of times those behaviors, they're impulsive and they're not intentional. So because of that, I ran into this sort of cycle of shame that I had over and over and over again.
[00:03:54] I would try to do things the way that. I knew I was supposed to do them, um, struggle, fall off the bandwagon, fail and disappoint, you know, everybody around me in some way, shape or form. And then they would express that disappointment in, you know, um, criticizing me, whether that was constructive or not, you know, basically shaming me into thinking, you know, that there was something wrong with me.
[00:04:23] And the, and the problem with this cycle is, When it starts to happen to you, especially when you're young, and it's, it's continued for a long time. You, you, what, what shame does to us is it causes us to internalize all of our problems. So instead of recognizing that, you know, maybe my, my struggle is something outside of me or something that I can have an effect on.
[00:04:55] Instead, I'm made to feel like I'm faulty. And you know, this distinction I think has a lot to do with learning to separate the self from the mind. And it's, I've also been told, or I've heard it told, separating the brain from the mind and. It's a really hard concept for me to even really grasp. And maybe that's just because, you know, I don't have the neuropsychology degree that I wish I did, but the brain is the organ, you know, helps our bodies to function.
[00:05:31] But the mind is more of the concept of this. Understanding how we perceive our life around us, how we perceive reality, the moral constructs that we adhere to, the societal constructs that we adhere to, and all of that interplays together. Now, do I tend to lean towards the brain and the mind can be one and the same.
[00:05:57] I biologically speaking, but spiritually speaking, they probably are different. And I say that because I know that there is scripture that basically is somebody giving themselves self-talk and, you know, reiterating to themselves that you know their God is the Lord most high in. In doing so, they're reassuring themselves that these feelings that they're having, that their, their brain, okay, without saying the word brain, but that their brain is.
[00:06:30] Pushing them to have as, as a reflex is nothing compared to truths. Right? So in her book called Finding the Hero in Your Husband, Dr. Julie Slattery says, this is the strength and power that God gives to people who are surrendered to his work. And when she's talking about the strength and power, she's talking about the.
[00:06:55] Strength that we have as wives or as women in general. And she says, when I grow weary in my marriage or ministry, I need to remember that I am, I am empowered by the spirit of God himself. I am saved by this power. Romans one 16 kept by it. One Peter one, five, strengthen in it. Ephesians three 16 equipped through it.
[00:07:19] Second Peter one, three, and I have hope because of it. Romans 15, 13. And when I first read that, I thought, wow, that is, you know, that is really powerful. And I got thinking that any woman, whether or not you are a wife or you are a mother or you're not, could benefit from remembering from remembering who you are.
[00:07:44] Recently I had a friend whose daughter was experiencing bullying for the first time. And in her gut reaction or her kind of her knee jerk reaction, she. Simply reminded her daughter, who are you and her daughter always responds to, to that question with I am a daughter of the king. And she says, okay, and what are you?
[00:08:07] And then she always responds with, I am loved, called, and kept. And she says, okay, so then, so then does it matter what, you know, what anybody else says? And she says, no. And she. I ran along and played and I thought, how profound to be raised. To know that regardless of other people's behaviors, but sometimes also even regardless of your own failures, to be told, and have it reiterated to you that you're still a princess, you're still royalty in God's eyes.
[00:08:42] He has hand picked you for everything that he's placed you in. You are not there by coincidence or by sheer luck or happenstance or destiny. He has placed you exactly where you are with exactly the people that he has surrounded you with for a purpose. Now, I'm not saying that you will always get to understand or know what that purpose is.
[00:09:13] But I will say if you embrace surrendering to him, like Julie talks about in her book, you will have a good understanding of what he truly thinks of you because he will help to bestow his love on you. He pours his love out on us. So going back to shame and diving into that, I, I feel like I got a little bit ahead of myself when it comes to talking about, you know, understanding it and then also understanding what we do with it.
[00:09:46] So, in a, uh, article, and not gonna lie, it kinda happened, um, onto this article, and I wish I had. More time to really skim through the citations in this article, but it's in Scientific American and it's basically talking about the role of shame in our lives. And how it plays out and how it can be related to mental illness.
[00:10:11] Now, something I did not know before I started, do I get digging into this more to do this podcast, was that shame is actually attached to a higher risk of depression. And it is also, uh, it causes us to focus our attention inwardly and to view our entire self in a negative light. Women are quicker to feel humiliated than men and adolescents feel shame more intensely than adults do.
[00:10:41] So as a result, women and adolescents are more susceptible to the negative effects of shame, such as low self-esteem and depression. And throughout this article, it also set says that it is, it's also related to anxiety, um, things like general anxiety disorder. And this all comes back to having a better understanding of.
[00:11:01] The role shame may have played in like our upbringing. What they do in this article or what they're talking about is something called shame proneness, meaning are you the type of person that is very likely to feel shame? When you mess up or when you do something wrong. So one of the instances it gives is it talks about the differences in when we feel shame, we view ourselves in a negative light, as in I did something terrible.
[00:11:29] Whereas when we feel guilt, it's cousin, we view a particular action negatively. I did something terrible. We feel guilty because our actions affected somebody else and we feel responsible. So with shame, the cycle of something's wrong with me, something's wrong with me, something's wrong with me. It gets us nowhere and it doesn't motivate us to make the change that we actually want to make.
[00:11:55] So for somebody like me, okay, I was raised in originally a two-parent household. My parents split when I was about nine, but they finalized their divorce when I was closer to 12. And when they did all of this, I was left with a lot of shame. But then that shame was compounded on because I started to struggle in school early on in this, um, and I continued to struggle in school.
[00:12:23] All the way until I got to graduation year when my parents approached me originally. Okay. Now, my mother has changed a lot of the ways that she parented me more throughout like my twenties, and I know that that sounds kinda silly that she had to parent me through my twenties, but she did because I was making a lot of mistakes and.
[00:12:45] I would say that her approach, but even also my approach to our relationship, our mother-daughter relationship, had to shift from recognizing that the shame that I felt from feeling humiliated for making mistakes or feeling wrong was supposed to be a proponent to guilt and guilt and shame. This article highlights this, that they are not actually the same.
[00:13:15] If you are prone to feeling guilty, you are prone to having empathetic tendencies to where you are constantly worried about how your actions are affecting the people around you. Whereas with shame, because you internalize it and you think of it as something that you are responsible for, but it's not.
[00:13:39] It's not so much an action you can take, but more so a constant problem with you, right? It's not something that can be fixed. It's not something that can be changed, but it's just something that's innate in you. You're just broken. Okay? That is not motivating. That is very, I mean, that's a punch to the gut.
[00:13:57] Let's just be honest. And if you have a D H D and you also have something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria. Those feelings of shame can feel like, I don't even know how to explain it, but they can feel like you're drowning, I guess would be the closest thing I would say to how those feelings can make you feel.
[00:14:19] Now, one thing I've talked about in the past is learning, and like I said in the beginning of this podcast, really defining the difference between the brain and the mind, the brain. Seals feelings, it sends reactions to our nervous system. It sends reactions to our dopamine. It sends, you know, neurotransmitters all throughout, you know, the spine and the brain to say, you know, this is bad.
[00:14:48] You're feeling this way. You need to cry. You need to lash out, you need to get angry. All those things. The mind is what takes a look at that reaction and can say, that's not set in truths. Right. So when we have these feelings of shame because we're late for the 600 time and we know that people think that we are careless or that we don't care about them or.
[00:15:16] When we have shame for wanting things that are outside of the moral constructs and societal norms that we're expecting. Right? Okay. So if you grow up, if you were like me and you grew up in a Christian household, and if you ever struggled with anything like same sex attraction, or maybe you struggled with substance abuse or maybe you struggled with.
[00:15:36] Things like sexual promiscuity. The feelings of shame from those things can compound when you are also prone to rejection, sensitivity dysphoria or having a D H D and. It can actually do the opposite of what people are wanting it to do. So if my family had come to me and said, and actually I will say they did at one point, my mom, when she was first trying to, you know, change her life and she was doing a 180 and trying to get away from trying to get away from, you know, the behavior she had in the past and trying to follow Christ.
[00:16:11] And she was a, she was a baby Christian and she was still raising me and I was a teenager and she would say things to me like, you know, you need to read your Bible more. You're not reading your Bible enough or, You are, you know, you're gonna be, become, uh, and nobody's going to value you if you, it. It was a, it was a shame cycle because it was constantly made done in a way that was supposed to make me feel like something's wrong with me and I should change, but because her criticism was aimed more at me.
[00:16:46] Or at least that's how I perceived it because of, you know, rejection, sensitivity, dysphoria, and all of those things. And because I watched all of my peers, I watched all of them and I was like, how come they can do these things and I cannot? How come they can study and I cannot? How come they're not as susceptible to peer pressure as I am?
[00:17:10] How come, you know, they. Don't feel pressured to engage in, you know, sexual acts before they're married. Now, was that a realistic understanding of everything that was going on in all of the other teenage brains? No, it wasn't. But what I'm just saying is when I was constantly comparing myself, I was compounding the shame that was already being given to me from my parents of, you know, clearly I'm just wrong and I.
[00:17:43] I don't have a way to be. Right. And what happens when you do that is you make it, and I'm not saying you in particular, but I'm just saying the person who's experiencing the shame, internalizes that shame, and then they think to themselves, well, if I'm just broken and I can't help myself, then. I'm stuck.
[00:18:03] You know, I, I, there's no way out. There's no way for me to get better. There's no way for me to improve. I can't, clearly, I just can't. Right. Whereas if you can take that shame and instead look at it as guilt, I. Especially as a Christian woman, it's gonna do a couple of things. One of the first things it's gonna do, it's gonna lead you to repentance because you're gonna recognize that clearly the Bible was correct when it said that we have experienced a fall, that our world is broken and therefore we are broken.
[00:18:37] But it doesn't mean that we're not without hope. Jesus gave us that source of hope, okay? And then he equipped us with the Holy Spirit to be able to continue to change and be molded to him. Now, that is not a overnight quick fix. It does not happen quickly. And in getting yourself from point A of shame to point B of guilt and then using that guilt to motivate you, that does not happen without practice either.
[00:19:14] What I think was the first step for me was, one, having valuable Christian relationships around me that could help point me to Christ in a very healthy way. Um, having a really good understanding of the gospel. What does the gospel mean for me? And I know a lot of people say that these days and they say, oh yeah, it's really important to know the gospel to understand it.
[00:19:39] But I say it's, it's more like a grasp. When I say grasp, I literally mean like your hand. You have to be able to clench it tight because there are going to be times where you're going to feel so guilty for the actions you have taken that it's going to push you. It's going to try to push you into shame, and shame is going to make you wanna run away from personal accountability and without personal accountability.
[00:20:08] We've let go of the gospel. We've let go. Whereas if we're holding tight to it and we recognize that the state that we're in is, is broken, and the only way to fix it is with Jesus, we can instead embrace the vulnerability that shame gives us. We can turn it into guilt and we can use it to motivate us towards change, but that does not happen quickly.
[00:20:34] So the temptation comes in when you feel like. All the things, all the choices you make or all the things that you do are just wrong. And so you tell yourself that because of that you just can't be right. And so you just embrace being wrong. And obviously I say that lightly 'cause it's probably not the best analysis of it, but basically you embrace the behavior that causes the shame.
[00:21:06] Then you continue to do it and you refuse to feel guilt, and when that happens, you end up with addiction, you end up with anxiety or depression, you end up with low self-esteem, and your actions unfortunately start to look extremely selfish, even though at some point they weren't. Because what happened was when you shut yourself off from feeling that guilt.
[00:21:35] From feeling like you needed to be accountable to anybody but yourself from feeling like if you hurt somebody else, well that's their problem and not yours. Eventually you shut that off and you also shut off your empathy and you can't easily get that back. Now, shifting from shame to guilt and then recognizing what the gospel offers allows us to.
[00:22:02] Take all of the criticism that we've ever gotten, whether you have a D H D or you don't have a D H D, whether you're depressed, whether you've made mistakes, whether you've done all those things, and it says, it's okay. I'll wipe your slate clean. Now, if you commit these acts, okay? Recognize the pain that they cause, not just in yourself, but in me as your God.
[00:22:30] But also in the people around you, and because of that pain, do something different. Now I'm not a theologian, but still I'm sure that there is a lot more depth to that understanding. Okay. And I'm sure that I'm barely skimming the surface, but that has been my experience of the gospel. It has taken me from a place of shame that feels so crippling.
[00:23:01] That I feel like I can't do anything about it, and I'm never gonna get it right to recognizing that. Maybe instead of just sitting in my shame, I might feel guilt. And if I feel guilt, I can do things like apologize. I can try to make things right with somebody. I can repay a favor, I can move forward. Um, and, and if there is some shame surrounding an action that I cannot control, okay, then I can at least recognize that God does not base my worth.
[00:23:36] Or the value he sees in me on my feelings of, of shame, right? So the book of Genesis 2 25 says that Adam and Eve were both naked and they were not ashamed. And then that changed when they were rebelled against God's commandments and aided the tree of knowledge. So from then on, they felt ashamed in each other's presence.
[00:24:01] The eyes of them both were opened and they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves some different places. Say cloths made themselves covers. You get the gist of it. But when people who are not Christian, take a look at this verse, they see something that was just a societal understanding that has transpired and continue today.
[00:24:22] But what I am telling you right now is that the feelings that you get of. Shame for something as simple as the way your body looks. That comes from recognizing that we are not, we're not in the state we are supposed to be in. We're, we're in a broken state and we, you align yourselves with the redeemer who redeems you.
[00:24:51] You can then move forward. You don't not feel the feelings, but you can move through them 'cause he strengthens you to do so. Is it easy? No, it's really hard because I can tell you one of the things that I definitely did not want to do was feel feelings of guilt. Feel feelings of guilt. Feels a lot like feelings of shame.
[00:25:20] But the good thing is, Is with guilt again, I can actually do something with it. So that is gonna wrap this up. I'm really happy that I had this conversation with you, and I know that it was totally one way, but I wanna invite you to consider the role that shame has played in your life, especially when it comes to your A D H D, and ask yourself if you truly believe that Jesus did what he said he did.
[00:25:50] The shame can be gone, the guilt will remain, but he will strengthen you to move through it. And how can he do that? How will he do that? And I think that you'll be happily, happily surprised to see that he helps you do it easier than you ever thought possible. So I'll be talking to you guys soon. God bless.
[00:26:13] And uh, Send me a message, please and let me know what you thought of this episode. I would love to hear it. This is the end of this episode. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you gained some insight into your brain and your Bible. I'd love to stay connected with you, so be sure to subscribe to the podcast and drop your email at our website and add woman.com so you never miss a new episode.
[00:26:39] Remember, A D H D isn't who you are. It's how your brain is wired. You are a capable, talented, amazing, and beautiful woman, and God loves you and your brain.