Please Stop Making Managing ADHD Sound So Simple

I’ve got dyslexia. What does that mean? In simple terms, when I look at a “b,” my mind retrieves a “d”. When I look at a word like “through,” my mind retrieves “threw.” Do you have any idea how hard it is to read, much less to comprehend when you are retrieving the wrong words and trying to make sense out of a sentence? It’s frustrating!

Know what else is frustrating? Having the world preach to you about how much fun reading is and how I should really like it. No! I don’t like it! It’s agonizing work. I hate it.

“Give him something interesting to read and he’ll enjoy it,” they say. No, I won’t. Don’t you get it? It’s hard work.

Just once it would be nice for someone to be aware of my challenges and meet me where I am. Something like, “Jeff, I understand how difficult this is for you. If I had dyslexia, I would hate reading, too.”

My mother taught me to acknowledge what is hard. If you discount it as easy, you are not giving it the respect it is due. You’re minimizing its impact and can’t seriously address it. All too often I coach people on procrastination. Typically, I ask them what is hard about a task. Their response is almost always “Nothing. It’s easy.”

I respond, “Really? Then why is it on your procrastination list?”

Again, my point and the purpose of this blog is to help you set up your mind to identify what is hard and to problem-solve around it. You can’t address difficult things via a lens of easy. It can lead to blame and shame, and I’ve never seen blame or shame solve a problem.

If you have ADHD, I want you to know I “get” it. ADHD sucks and it’s hard.

4 thoughts on “Please Stop Making Managing ADHD Sound So Simple

  1. Great post Jeff. I did not know that you had dyslexia along with our beloved ADHD. For some reason reading is something that I do enjoy. However I am having one of THOSE mornings where I can’t “complete” even the most simple tasks- 61 years old, take meds, exercise, meditate, don’t drink or smoke, get good sleep, have a relatively calm life….. Yet I struggle so badly to get things done much of the time. I listened to Ned Hallowell and John Ratey webinar on the “flip side of Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria”. Hallowell is great at leaving you feeling optimistic. But then you have days like this. It is hard NOT to feel like a victim. Making it worse, because we are often intelligent and are great at some things, even those closest to us can think that our ADHD is an EXCUSE. No it is freaking REAL. I am the fellow coach who you interviewed a few years back- I walk and read!! I love all of your stuff Jeff. What you accomplish with your challenges is absolutely astonishing to me. Pete Resch

    1. Pete, I remember you and am grateful for the interview. Something to think about… I find ambiguity is often the elephant in the room. In fact, about 70% of procrastination is rooted in ambiguity. Think about it. If you don’t know what to do, don’t know where something is, not sure what to say… why not go and do something else productive? The Hallowell/Ratey webinar was just a marketing thing. Emotional self-regulation is about regulation. Most people focus on the negative. It can be useful if you are excited about something. Grateful to Ned and John for pointing that out. In and of itself, it is inspiring but not useful. So, reflect on what you have in front of you and ask, “What is hard?” or, “What am I not clear about?” to address the answers. Let’s see where that takes you. Thanks for your comments.

  2. I have ADHD and it can be really frustrating the point that it takes you ages to get round to doing things. I can get so exhausted mentally when I have to do something that I need to think really hard about. I have loads of books that I would love to read but they just sit there. I used to be a good reader but find it hard to get motivated. Another thing that really is difficult is that I’m unable to easily reflect on things and it’s as though unless I talk it through with someone or write it down I just feel I’m unable to reflect on things.
    Jeff I also struggle to remember certain names.
    I still persevere despite it all.

    1. ADHD is an issue of self-regulation. It is very effortful to engage your thinking brain to override your automatic/impulsive brain. In your case it sounds like your working memory is taxed, which is really a challenge. Talking out loud is a very effective strategy in such situations. It sounds like you have figured that out. Life isn’t a box of chocolates, but with work, you can have a fulfilling life. My life hasn’t been the easiest but I’m grateful for what I have, what I’ve experienced, and my journey. Keep the faith, and thanks for the comment.

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