While on the treadmill at the gym the other day, I eavesdropped on a nearby conversation. Hearing, “using ADHD as an excuse”, grabbed my attention.
(Yes, I admit it. I’m an eavesdropper. People are so interesting!)
Anyway, a woman was discussing her husband’s ADHD with her girlfriend. Lamenting how often her guy used ADHD as an excuse.
“He blames everything on his ADHD. Why he’s late picking up the kids. Why he forgets to stop at the market. Why he spends too much money. I wish I had something to blame everything on.”
Since I was eavesdropping, I squelched my impulse to join the conversation. It did get me thinking though.
There is a fine line between using ADHD as an excuse and using it as an explanation.
Adults with ADHD often do need to explain our behavior — if not to others than at least to ourselves. But we need to know the difference between using ADHD as an excuse and an explanation.
Pay attention. Knowing the difference between an excuse and an explanation is subtle. Yet it’s an important point if you want to change your relationship with your ADHD.
Using ADHD as an Excuse
I believe using ADHD as an excuse implies a total lack of control where unwanted behavior becomes the fault of the attention deficit.
Here’s an example of using ADHD as an excuse: “Since I have ADHD, my house is always a mess, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
I think using ADHD as an explanation suggests taking responsibility for the behavior. Working to change what can be changed and accepting what can’t be changed.
Now let’s use the same example with ADHD as an explanation: “I have ADHD so it’s hard for me to keep the house tidy. I have to set things up so it’s easier for me to stay organized and hire a housekeeper.”
See the difference?
Remember the woman at the gym? Likely her husband’s behavior wouldn’t frustrate her nearly as much if instead of making excuses he honestly tried to change and used explanations instead.
What about you?
Are you using ADHD as an excuse? If so, what do you need to do to take responsibility for your actions? Shift to making explanations for ADHD’s impact on your behavior. It’s worth the work.