John’s marriage was in trouble. John forgot to pick up the tools the family needed from the hardware store on the way home from work (again). For John, this wasn’t a big deal. He and his wife could get started on the home project next weekend. He just doesn’t see time the way his wife does. John’s wife was busy with work too, and this would have helped the family out a lot. There are many reasons John said yes to the task, even though there was a low likelihood that he could get any additional things done this week. For John’s wife, she felt upset, but it wasn’t even the missed errand that bothered her. It was the constant lack of follow-through. It felt…invalidating. The interaction between John and his wife could be tied to a strong pattern of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), people-pleasing, and conflict avoidance. Many ADHD couples face this same pattern every day. However, the connection between ADHD, people-pleasing, and conflict avoidance might surprise you.
The ADHD Brain Effect
ADHD people struggle to pause. When they say yes as a knee-jerk response, it might be more of an impulse-control issue. They are wanting to please others, but not considering what is already on their plate.
The ADHD brain struggles with working memory impairments. This is one of the brain’s executive functions. It means holding something in mind long enough to complete the task or file it away. It’s also the brain’s recall.
Unless John remembered to write down the errand or prompt himself in another way using a visual cue, there is a high likelihood that he would forget because the errand was outside of his routine.
It’s in the title of the diagnosis, so it goes without saying that ADHD folks struggle with attention and focus. When others are speaking, there is a chance their mind is deep in thought and they aren’t truly hearing what was just said. This is not an intentional or conscious process, but more a result of neurological difficulties in filtering out distractions.
Many ADHD people struggle to get motivated before a task unless the deadline is coming up quickly. This is also called “time horizons,” which are shorter for ADHD people than non-ADHD people. Non-ADHD people will start to consider a task that is due in a week and get started early. For ADHD people? It’s often the night before.
How the ADHD Brain Influences Communication
ADHD people know they make mistakes and can forget things at times. They often feel pretty bad for not being able to detach from their computer or cell phone or for not getting started on a work assignment until the day before it’s due. Because their mistakes are unintentional, there is often a sense of wanting to “make up” for their past errors. This leads many ADHD people to overcommit as a matter of habit, which can then create more struggles with forgetfulness or disorganization.
Most ADHD couples likely know that they don’t find any answers from fighting. Feelings get hurt, someone shuts down, and the relationship suffers. Because ADHD people are often feeling “in trouble” for their largely unintentional mistakes, it makes being assertive all the more difficult, as it never feels like a level playing field.
Many ADHD people have heard enough criticism to make them struggle with shame. For example, thinking, “It’s me; I’m inadequate,” further erodes confidence and assertiveness.
Moving forward from “ADHD people pleasing” or “ADHD conflict avoidance” can take some work. It usually starts with an accurate diagnosis.
The irony is, most adults with ADHD actually don’t even know they have ADHD. Without proper ADHD testing to confirm the presence of the diagnosis, many ADHD people are walking around thinking they have a character defect of some kind. In fact, once an ADHDer can start owning how their mind works, they can start finding the solutions that work for them.
Ultimately, both John and his wife need to find better processes to manage daily life that makes space for ADHD and work for both of them. However, John can also work toward increased confidence and assertiveness in conjunction with learning more about his ADHD brain to find the right productivity hacks that work for him.
Begin Adult ADHD Treatment in Columbus, Ohio
You don’t have to live your life feeling afraid of conflict. ADHD-focused treatment can help you feel more present. Our counseling practice in Columbus, Ohio has caring therapists who specialize in ADHD Treatment. To start your counseling journey, follow these simple steps:
- Fill out the contact form to schedule a free 15-minute phone
- Meet with one of our caring therapists.
- Stop feeling avoidant. Start taking action.
Other ADHD Services Offered at Focused Mind ADHD Counseling
Adult ADHD treatment is not the only service we offer at our Columbus, OH counseling practice. At Focused Mind ADHD Counseling, we offer a variety of mental health services including ADHD testing. As an adult with ADHD, we know you may also benefit from anxiety treatment for ADHD, counseling for men with ADHD, or depression counseling for ADHD. You can also view our blog for more resources and helpful info!