Are adults with ADHD really selfish?
You and your colleagues decide how to divide up a project and agree on the deadlines. As the first deadline is fast approaching you’re feeling the pressure. Yet, you still haven’t started on it. At the meeting to discuss the project you tell them you’re not going to be able to deliver on time. They’re clearly frustrated.
You make plans with your friend to meet up for lunch. And it’s on your calendar. But you get so involved in a project at work you don’t stop on time. And you’re late getting to the restaurant, again.
Your significant other starts telling you about what happened at work that day. She seems clearly distressed. But you interrupt her with a random question that pops into your head. She’s upset. And you feel bad, too.
In each of the above scenarios what others see is that you’re:
- not pulling your weight
- not listening
And they may conclude from your actions that you’re just too self-centered to care. But they’re likely wrong! You probably care a lot. And you may even be frustrated at how your ADHD gets in your way. Because you really want to do better, right?
Recognizing how your ADHD gets in your way is an important first step. As this understanding will allow you to create the right kind of workarounds.
Listening Is a Challenge for ADHD Adults. Want to do better?
Because the filing system for organizing information in your brain is inefficient you may have difficulty organizing your thoughts. As a result, it can be a challenge retrieving words or ideas on the spot. So, as you are working hard to figure out what you want to say, you may not be listening.
And, while you are stuck in your own thoughts, you may impulsively say whatever comes to mind. It may not be what you mean at all! But you feel the need to say something because the silence is too uncomfortable. And, when you are stressed and overwhelmed, you may be even more impulsive in conversation.
In addition, external distractions (noises, conversations etc.) and internal distractions (thoughts) can make it hard for you to listen. This is especially true when you’re having a disagreement, as it is also hard to regulate your emotions.
Before you start a conversation take a few deep breaths, really. Remind yourself you want to listen and need to slow down. It won’t be easy. But once you slow down, you can use these additional strategies to listen better.
ADHD Adults Are Often Late. Ready to be on Time More Often?
Getting places on time requires a bit of planning. Not easy for adults with ADHD, for sure. But you can build this capacity by taking these four steps. And when you can anticipate and plan for what you need in advance you will be more likely to get places on time.
As part of this process, you will likely need to improve your ability to estimate time. Another challenge for adults with ADHD. One way to build this skill is to track your activities, time estimates and the actual time it takes for you to get places.
The difficulty for ADHD adults with transitions — starting, stopping, switching between tasks —also makes it hard to be on time. Of course, preparation is not going to help you, if you can’t stop what you are doing. And move on to your next task. You can learn how to do better with these tips for easier daily transitions
Last, you may suffer from “one more thingitis.” You know you have this ailment if you often decide you need to do something just when you are ready to leave. The antidote is to resist the urge by reminding yourself, “If I don’t go now, I’ll be late. ‘XYZ’ can wait.” Don’t fall prey to this insidious condition. 😊
Trouble Following Through? Here’s How ADHD Adults Do Better.
Not only do you want to be in time, but you also want to honor your other commitments, right? Yet, you may often think to yourself, “I really need to do that. I’ll get to it soon.” But then not actually deliver when you said you would — a common occurrence for many adults with ADHD. Others may view these lapses as evidence you just don’t care.
Among the reasons it is hard for ADHD adults to deliver on their commitments is not knowing how to plan the steps, estimate the time needed, start, focus, and persist. That’s a long list, no doubt! And improving your skills in these areas will definitely help you follow through.
Check out ADHD and Bridging the Gap Between Knowing and Doing for an explanation of how to build these skills by taking the four steps below.
- know your objective
- do just enough planning
- create the right environment
- use strategies to remember to act in the moment
Learning how to do the above can help you start taking action. Then you will be able to follow through on your commitments more often.
ADHD Adults have a Memory Like Swiss Cheese not a Trap Door
It’s true. Many Adults with ADHD don’t have a very good memory. And, if this is true for you, your forgetfulness may be mistaken for not caring. But you care a lot. And, when you forget to show up when you said you would or do what you committed to, I bet you feel embarrassed or even ashamed.
One reason for your memory challenges is a weak short-term (working) memory. This means you do not hold information long enough for it to enter your long-term memory. For example, you tell yourself, “I need to drop off that folder at Joe’s office before I leave.” As you turn around to get your jacket and pack up you forget about the folder. All in less than a minute! Frustrating, right?
In addition, challenges with long-term memory are common for adults with ADHD. One result is that you have difficulty remembering to do something in the future. So, for example, while you may have promised to get dinner on your way home, you forget. And only remember when you get home and walk into the kitchen. Sound familiar?
The difficulty with long-term memory can also result in challenges with recalling information. So, you may have trouble remembering facts, names, events and experiences, etc. For example, when you go to a networking event you can’t recall the name of someone you met just last month. And, while trying to share information with a colleague from the report, you have trouble recalling the facts. Even though you just read it two days ago!
I’m sure you would like to do better. While the above may leave you feeling pretty defeated about your memory challenges. You don’t need to be, really! Because there are many ways to remember what you need and at the right time. Check out 20 ways to remember what you want for examples of the strategies and tools you can use.
Better, Not Perfect, Is the Goal
While you can definitely do better, it will never be perfect. You’re human.
So, part of the puzzle will be to find people who will be accepting of some of your quirks. Because, as hard as you might try, sometimes your ADHD symptoms will just creep in.