“To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.” T.F. Hodge
People with ADHD often find that everyday challenges leave them very frustrated. “It should be easy” is what they hear and after spending more time than most a person with ADHD can easily find themselves still at the starting line. It isn’t just a one-time event it seems that everything takes longer, even simple things and that leads to frustration. Frustration leads to anger and for some it leads into depression.
How does someone with ADHD transform the negative experience of delayed success into something that doesn’t lead to frustration? In your mind you may be thinking this should only take a few minutes to do and then an hour passes by and the desired outcome isn’t close to being realized. When you were thinking about the result how much time did you think the task would take? What are the steps you have to take to achieve the result you want? For each of those steps how long does it take an expert to complete those tasks and how long does it take a novice to complete those tasks? How many times have you completed those same tasks?
What leads to frustration is an unrealistic expectation on how long it will take to get something done. For someone with ADHD executive memory function isn’t what it is for most people and it means adjusting the time it takes to complete a task until it becomes routine. Repetition of the same task or similar task is going to result in improved outcomes. Over time there will be improvements in how long it takes to accomplish the same time of work.
Here is a simple five step process to reduce frustration:
1. Identify – Is this something you have done before or is it something new.
2. Analyze – what needs to take place to get the right result. Break it down. Do I understand clearly what it is that I need to do.
3. Plan – create a step by step plan, an outline and estimate the time it will take to do each step. How close is the plan you have now to what you thought it would be.
4. Execute – go do it. Often people with ADHD wait, and then wait some more waiting for the energy level to increase so that something happens. Take action, get a result.
5. Reflect – what worked, what needs to be adjusted, what can success can you celebrate?
Frustration occurs when the expected outcome for any task or activity exceeds what you believe should be true. The gap between what actually happened and your version of the truth leads to thoughts of failure. Thoughts of failure amplify the internal messaging that are negative. “I am not good enough”, and repeated often subconsciously or consciously leads to a build up of negative hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and those are toxins that the body has to process. The body wants to run away from the threat but when there isn’t something to run away from that energy has to dissipate in some fashion and it turns into frustration and anger.
Dr. Orloff suggests practicing in dealing with frustration through being patient:
Would that be something you’d be willing to try? What do you think would happen?