Why is “easy” so “hard” for ADHD people?

I think I touched on this a little bit a few weeks ago. But I partially can’t remember and I’m sure it can use repetition and more flushing out anyway. And it’s a direct continuation from last week. We have established that boredom is our kryptonite. Let’s expand that definition to include boredom, tedium, repetition, lack of variety, or really anything that falls under the heading of what we call a non-preferred task. This often manifests in even the brightest and most capable ADHD people as a the mind-bending paradox of “easy” being really “hard.”

But let’s back up for a second. What do I mean by hard? I know, not a word you really need to think of a definition for. What if we changed it so difficult? How about challenging? How about attentionally challenging? Are you following me? Language is important. I have always said there’s a word missing in English between want and be able to. When we don’t do something that we know is important, most people framed that as, “I didn’t want to.” Of course they wanted to do it. Why the hell else would we be talking about it and Coaching?

 OK. I recognize that’s a slight oversimplification. And I think I’ll do a post about the difference between wanting the result of something and wanting to engage in the process of doing it sometime soon, if I haven’t recently already.

But my point is we always default to the word want, which really is like saying we have a character flaw and is undermining in the long term, because we don’t know how to conceptualize not being able to do a thing that we are aware we are capable of doing. Don’t think about that sentence for too long. It’ll make your head explode. What I’m saying is that being able to do something doesn’t mean they’re able to do it in any given moment. I thought of 1 million analogies to prove my point but I’m gonna assume that you get my drift by now. Just because you’re capable of doing a task, it does not mean you have the attention and executive function available to do it at any given moment.

So if we combined the two ideas from this post and some of the ideas about expanding the definition of attention from the post two weeks ago, where do we end up? I believe we end up in a place where we need to look at laundry, dishes, bills, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, fill in the blank with your household task nemesis differently. For most of us with an average IQ, two arms, two legs, etc., none of these things are physically or intellectually challenging. But they are most definitely attentionally challenging. And that means there may be moments in your life where you just can’t do it. They will also be even more moments in your life where you can do it but it is disproportionately taxing on your resources compared to a neurotypical person.

Sure, that sucks. But, acknowledging it and owning it is the first step of mastering it. There are practical things you can do. A lot of them are larger picture things like having the right career, great job, the right boss. But you can do very practical things with your partner in terms of how you divide up the household chores. You may not enjoy any of them. But I bet there are some that you hate less. Try to divide responsibilities equitably put along those lines and there will probably be less conflict. If there’s something you both hate to do, alternate or outsource. Or don’t buy shirts that need to be ironed.

I think I’ll do a brief case study in this next week. So stay tuned.

Standard disclaimer. As a person with ADHD, I made the decision when I started my blog, that I didn’t want it to be that thing that I avoided out of perfectionism. I made the decision to get my ideas out there with very little filtering and rarely any editing. Adhering to this philosophy means that I may never have put out a perfect blog post. But it also means that I put a really good blog post out most weeks for the last decade. So please continue to bear with me by overlooking awkward phrasing, typos, grammatical quirks, etc. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the heck out of the contact. P.S. I’m not even gonna read this before I start slapping it on the end of my blog posts. Ha!