Never worry alone

ADHD Business Tips - Never worry alone

Worrying is something that seems to come with the territory when you’re a business owner with ADHD. Our brilliant but distractible brains are constantly juggling a million ideas, possibilities, and contingencies. We lay awake at night ruminating over client pitches, precarious cash flow projections, or whether we’ve ordered enough branded merch. The worries can pile on quickly and send an ADHD mind spiraling down overwhelming mental rabbit holes.

This is why adopting the wise advice of psychiatrist Ned Hallowell to “never worry alone” can be so impactful. Hallowell, who has ADHD himself, understands how easy it is for those of us with this neurodivergent wiring to get trapped in incessant negative thought loops. Left to our own devices, we can become consumed by anxious “what if” scenarios and blow our challenges out of proportion – he calls this “toxic worry”.

Toxic worry

Dr Hallowell drives home the importance of never going it alone when it comes to this excessive, toxic worry. As he explains, “Worry is like blood pressure: you need a certain level to live, but too high a level can hurt you.” Left unmitigated, runaway anxiety morphs from a useful alarm system into a painful, obsessive state akin to a car alarm that won’t stop blaring.

To set that fear aside and act creatively and boldly instead, Hallowell prescribes finding an antidote to disconnection and isolation. “Our prime antidote to toxic worry is another person,” he states. Sharing our worries with others is the key non-medicinal method for controlling the grip of pervasive anxious thoughts. By voicing our concerns to a trusted friend or loved one, we relieve the pressure, introduce alternative perspectives, and disrupt the cycle of worrying alone that so often consumes those of us with ADHD.

Sharing the load

The beauty of “never worrying alone” is that it forces you to release those intrusive thoughts from the pressure-cooker of your own mind. By looping in a trusted friend, colleague, mentor, coach or loved one, the burden of carrying every concern is relieved. And it’s not even about brainstorming or solving a problem – simply speaking the worries out loud can be incredibly therapeutic and clarifying.

I can think of many occasions where I’ve agonised over decisions that I’ve needed to make in my business or other situations that involved uncertainty. When these kinds of things pop up, it’s easy to convince myself that getting it wrong could have dire consequences, or even sink my whole business. I remember feeling quite stressed about work at the start of my long-awaited holiday last year. I remember standing on the beach, my eyes filling with tears as everything began to bubble up to the surface. It was so frustrating to have arrived at a beautiful destination only to have my enjoyment dampened by the anxiety I was experiencing.

A couple of days into the trip I was fortunate enough to be able to share what was happening and talk it through with one of my big sisters who was holidaying with us. Our conversation helped me gain new perspective and get clarity on the things I could do to move forward with less angst. Her third-party input and having me explain my thought process aloud allowed me to move past my anxiety and fully enjoy my time away.

By virtue of how our neurobiology is wired, people with ADHD tend to get stuck incessantly chewing over the same thoughts and worries. Our neurotransmitter levels and atypical brain structure and connectivity can make it very difficult to disengage from persistent thoughts or chains of thoughts. Talking through the worries helps to force a change in mental channels.  

Finding your circle

The “never worry alone” maxim hinges on having the right support system. You’ll want to enlist those who not only have a high degree of trust and confidence, but also the ability to lend rational perspective. My go-to circle includes:

  • My best friends – these are people who have known me for a long time and who I know I can trust to listen empathetically and hold space for me.
  • My siblings – I’m fortunate enough to have good relationships with my siblings and often share my biggest worries or concerns with my two closest sisters.
  • My coach – especially for business related challenges, my coach is a great resource – trained in compassionate listening and with the right questions to help me move past the fear stage.

The ideal confidantes are people whose opinions you respect, who are level-headed themselves, and care enough to be compassionately honest when you might be spiralling. Close friends or family members who have been through thick and thin can play this role. A business or life coach can lend an ear and an objective outside perspective. The key is having people who are well equipped to listen without judgement and who you can trust to not “take on” your troubles as their own.

Read more about building your support crew here.

Remembering this wisdom

Intellectually recognising the value of outside perspective is often easier than remembering to actually seek it out for those with ADHD. The impulsive solo-flight risk can kick in, spurring furious attempts to “work through” or “figure out” worries alone. 

That’s why it’s crucial to find ways to make “never worry alone” a habit. Leaving Post-it notes with the mantra around your office or setting recurring phone reminders to call a designated worry-sharing friend or coach can short-circuit the impulse to power through concerns single-handedly.

As with anything, there’s a balance to strike – there’s no need to harangue friends about every minor gripe. But regularly talking through our core business challenges and anxieties is invaluable. It can bring an objective point of view but more importantly it stops the ADHD brain’s fearful ruminations from snowballing, and often reveals simple solutions that would never have been apparent alone.


A great place to share your challenges is a space full of people who you know will “get it” (like the Next Level ADHD Entrepreneurs group). There are many online communities, forums, and social media groups for entrepreneurs and/or ADHD individuals where you can air your worries, be heard, and get feedback (if needed). In many of these spaces you can even post anonymously about what’s causing your anxiety. When you’re struggling it’s comforting to be met with compassionate responses from folks who can relate and who will encourage you to keep going.

Next time that little voice of worry begins piping up, don’t try to tough it out solo. Pick up the phone and call a confidante. You’ll likely find that half the battle is just getting it out of your own head and once you do that the next steps become clearer.

I’ll see you here next week for another new tip!

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