When was the last time you were staring at your emails (or the laundry or your unpaid bills) and it took you an awful looong time until you felt you were ready to finally tackle them?
People with ADHD know this feeling all too well. It often seem like an invincible emotional barrier that is impossible to grasp. ADHD expert and coach Brendan Mahan, refers to this as the "Wall of Awful", that invisible thing we're trying to overcome before being able to get to a task, no matter how easy it is.
Mahan believes this 'invisible wall' is built over time, brick by brick, through failure and disappointment, rejection, self-doubt, regret and frustration. An awful mix that can build a strong wall around even the smallest of tasks!
So while you're moving that pile of paperwork from left to right and back without getting to it, it may look like procrastinating or laziness, but it is quite the opposite. In fact, your brain is putting so much thought and emotional work into the idea of doing the task as you tell yourself 'you need do this' and 'it's really important' and so on. That additional work is why it feels so hard to do things that "should" be simple and straight forward.
Thankfully, there are ways to overcome your personal Wall(s) of Awful and it might get easier over time with these strategies.
- Understand and accept the emotions you have around certain tasks or situations by taking note of them. Then practice self-compassion and forgiveness with affirmations and positive self talk!
- Generate a dopamine boost through music, a little exercise or healthy soul food and schedule it in your routines. They will elevate your mood, push those negative emotions aside and get you going.
- Create a sense of urgency through time limits ("If I get it done in the next 20 minutes, then I'll make it to the movies on time").
- Plan your tasks and set achievable goals ("I will take care of my friendships and call one friend today. Then I'm done").
- Reflect regularly on what went well and why to refine your strategies. That way, the Wall of Awful you climb for tasks will get smaller and smaller over time.
What's your Wall of Awful? You can start breaking it down today, with compassion, forgiveness and empathy for yourself. And don't forget to reward yourself when the hard work is done - no matter what it looks like from the outside!