I Hate Myself for Not Doing My Homework

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Reader’s Question

I’m in high school and would consider myself to have above average intellect. Still, I’m getting Ds and Es in school.

I seem to do well on all of the tests, but when I get home from school and I have to do my homework, I just can’t make myself do it. My teachers ask me why I don’t do my homework and I tell them I just don’t care anymore. But in reality I do care — I hate myself for not doing the work. Still, when I get home from school I just can’t make myself do the work. Then, when I get my report card, I look at the grades and just cry myself to sleep. I want to do better but I just can’t seem to make myself work harder. Is this just me being lazy or is there something more?

Psychologist’s Reply

Because there could be so many underlying reasons for your quandary, it’s not possible to make an accurate assessment from such a distance. That’s why it would be in your and your family’s best interest to seek out an evaluation by a mental health professional experienced in such issues.

Some of the possible reasons for your difficulties can include:

Attention-sustaining problems.
Some folks with attention deficits can focus well enough in stimulating environments but have inordinate difficulty focusing on tasks that are rote or mundane and require sustained attention.
Motivation-sustaining problems.
Sometimes an underlying depression can predispose a person to anticipate negative outcomes to their efforts, thus prompting a pattern of poor emotional investment. Depression can also leave a person devoid of energy and the ability to persist on difficult tasks.
Deficient study habits and skills.
Some folks don’t have the study skill to make productive use of their study time. As a result, studying becomes not only very tedious but also quite aversive, setting up a pattern of avoidance.
Incompatible learning styles.
Different people have different preferred ways of learning. Sometimes, homework is packaged in a manner incompatible with a person’s learning style, making the endeavor challenging and sometimes aversive.

The aforementioned are just a few of the many possible explanations for your difficulties other than pure laziness. Your problems might be related to some very different causes other than a deficiency of character. My best suggestion: talk openly with your parents and school counselor about your concerns, and seek a professional opinion about the best ways to address the issues.

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