Many individuals with ADHD experience rejection sensitive dysphoria, or RSD. If you are unfamiliar, RSD is when you experience intense emotional pain due to feelings of rejection or failure. Because of the severity of the emotional pain, it can lead individuals to start censoring themselves in order to avoid the possible rejection entirely.
What does censoring yourself even look like? Well, it can be having an idea of something you want to say or do, but then stop yourself because you tell yourself the idea is silly, unimportant, no one will care, people will judge you, etc. It can also take the form of making assumptions about yourself or others, such as not calling a friend because you think it’s been too long, assuming no one will like doing x, y, or z so you just do it alone, etc. Basically, it’s telling yourself no, or rejecting your own ideas, thoughts, plans, or interests to avoid the possibility of others rejecting you or telling you no.
It can also involve editing yourself or commenting on yourself. Statements like “Sorry, I’m rambling…”, “That probably sounded dumb…”, “Never mind, forget it…” or other put-downs on your interests or self-expressions also put you in a position of rejecting yourself before others can reject you.
When we censor ourselves, we may think we are protecting ourselves, but we are robbing ourselves of new opportunities, new experiences, and new relationships. This can get very isolating and perpetuate the cycle of anxiety caused by isolation.
What assumptions have you made about yourself or others? What happened after that?
How does it feel to edit yourself, or comment on yourself? What is making you edit yourself? What are you getting out of editing yourself?
How have you censored yourself in the past? Why did you feel you needed to censor yourself?
If you didn’t censor yourself, and you put yourself out there, what is the worst thing that could happen? How likely is that worst case scenario? What is the best case scenario? Which of these scenarios is more likely? What would happen if something in between the best and worst case happened? What would that look like?
When we censor ourselves, we reject ourselves before anyone else can. What would it take to accept ourselves? What would that look like, feel like, and sound like?
What steps do you need to feel more accepted- both by yourself and by others? How will you know when you’ve reached those steps?
What’s the first step you could take to stop censoring yourself? What would it take to get started?