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How to Deal With ADHD Overcommitment

Commitments. Ugh. We all make them, it is unavoidable. I should know, I spend a disproportionate part of my life trying to avoid them. ADHD and overcommitment go hand in hand, two little buddies skipping off to insanity. Why do I always do it? How can I stop myself from over committing before it is too late?

Here we Go Again.

It starts off innocently enough. Someone asks me to write something for their blog. I take on a new project. Something fun comes up that I would like to do. Before I know it I am up to my ears in projects with NO WAY to get them all done in a timely fashion. There I am with a ton of work and a bunch of pissed off people. I promise myself I’m never going to do it again. Then I do it again. . . and again. The best part? I’m so stressed out that my whole brain starts to shut down. What’s a girl to do? Let’s explore how I got into this mess.

Do you know what you committed to?

Did you ever get that reminder, the night before that something needed to be done? Let’s call it the “Oh, hey” call. You know, “Oh hey, you said you were going to help me edit my paper and it is due tomorrow” or the “oh hey, are you still coming to the party tonight?” Meanwhile, I am lying in bed drained from a whole work week without the slightest inclination of going anywhere, or I’ve completely forgotten that I would edit your paper. It isn’t intentional, I promise.

Executive functioning is that part of your brain that helps you to remember all of these things. In the ADHD brain, this portion is underdeveloped (or if you’re me, you may feel you didn’t get it at all). We live in a neurotypical world, whether we like it or not. We have to start off by knowing what we have committed to. For the love of everything, go get a planner. It doesn’t matter what kind of planner it is. It can be on your phone, or in the palm of your hand, or in your e-mail. Just get one.

How does Anxiety play into this?

As if having ADHD wasn’t fun enough on its own, you get the anxiety factor to top it off. For adults with ADHD, this is even worse. Why? We have a whole history of underperformance to bring to the table. Anxiety feeds off of fear, and there is nothing more frightening than being afraid that you’ll mess up like you did last time. It isn’t fair, but those are the facts. In order to help reduce this anxiety, it is critically important that we are aware of what we can actually handle.

If ADHD is stressing you out, it is time to try something new. Listen to some music, and make it relaxing. I listen to music with binaural and isochronic tones, and as hippy dippy as it sounds, it really helps. So does aromatherapy. Lavender essential oil or another relaxing blend seems to do the trick. Put them in a diffuser and let the smell in the air relax you. The stress levels caused by anxiety actually make ADHD much worse. Why? Because trouble concentrating is a big side effect of anxiety. You want to avoid this as much as you can.

People pleasing comes into play

We’re a friendly bunch of people, those of us with ADHD. We like to make people happy, usually because we piss so many people off by mistake. So when someone asks me to do something for them, I want to do it. I really, REALLY want to do it, and make them happy. The problem is if I am saying I can do things and then I cannot, no one is going to be happy, especially not me. This is a serious problem for all of us. The shame I feel after not being able to follow through on something should be enough, but usually, it isn’t. Why not? Because usually, I have no idea what I’m doing. There, I admitted it, even if some of us won’t. I in times past have been guilty of arbitrarily committing to do things with only a vague idea of my actual schedule and no systems in place to help me prepare for them. I have since learned my lesson, and I HIGHLY recommend you do the same.

How will I stop?

There are a few ways to get this under control, and one of the first and simplest ways is to pause. What do you currently have on your plate? Sit down and create yourself a list. What do you have to accomplish every day and how do you plan to accomplish it? Is there anything on that list that has to go?

Let Go of the Guilt

Telling people no is a problem that we, especially women face constantly. I want you to know something, and it may never have occurred to you this way: you are not the only person in the world who can accomplish this task that you are being asked to do. I hate to make it seem like you are unnecessary or not unique in every way because I believe you ARE unique and all of those wonderful things that you think you are. However, you were asked to do something. That means the person who asked you could not do it. It stands to reason that if you cannot accomplish this task for them, there is someone else out there who can. Meaning they can ask someone else, and that someone else will not be you. Meaning you can use your time for something else. If it makes you feel that bad, you can even SUGGEST the someone else. That will be nice, right? Then you aren’t leaving someone “stuck.”

All the things

Remember all of the things you could do before you became so busy? You had time to, as they say, do YOU. Let’s get back to that. Go take a long nap. Clean your house. Do your hair, for goodness sake, you look a mess ( oh wait, that’s just me). When you are using your planner, you absolutely must take some time and block off time in order to relax. The problem with over-committing is that we make those commitments to everyone but ourselves. Take some time to enjoy yourself. Go have a glass of wine. Put some makeup on. Whatever makes you happy, please go do it. You deserve it.

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