It’s Not What You Think

Attention Deficit Disorder has always been characterized as an inability to pay attention.

Recent studies, however, have modified that view.

As any ADDer could have told them, the researchers found out that it’s not so much about paying attention as it is about interest.

If you’ve ever been on Facebook or Pinterest, you know that we can (and do) pay attention to those sites for hours. That’s because they are interesting and entertaining, but also because they give us short little bites at a time. No lengthy paragraphs; just a sentence or two or maybe just a picture.

Find something you’re interested in and you can pay attention to it for a longer amount of time than something you’re not interested in. Makes sense, right?

So how come people without ADHD can pay attention to things that don’t interest them?

Well for one thing, they aren’t as easily bored as we are. Does that mean we have more discerning minds? Maybe. I’m not sure.

Another reason is that I think that people who don’t have ADHD are more disciplined than we are when it comes to doing stuff we have to do but may not be interested in.

Does that make them better than us? No. Just different.

So what can we do?

Here are some ideas:

First, it helps to know that it happens. If you know you’re going into a potentially boring situation and you know it’s important to pay attention, you can prepare ahead of time.

Take care of all of your comfort things before you begin. Use the bathroom. Get a drink of water. Bring some water with you. Do what you have to do.

Give yourself permission to fidget and doodle. Both burn off excess energy that can distract you. Just try not to bother anyone else.

Bring something small and quiet to play with. A ball you can squeeze. A pen or pencil you can twirl. Good grief, twirl your hair if you have to. Again, burning off energy. (Your cell phone is not a good idea. It gives the impression that you don’t care.)

Bring gum or mints with you. Something with a strong intense flavor works best. Some people think peppermint helps you focus. Hey, it’s worth a try.

Eliminate your distractions. (Like your cell phone. Don’t just turn it to vibrate; turn it off.)

Finally learn to put your will power to work. You can do it. Just don’t expect big results right away. One way to do this - and help your ADD symptoms - is to learn to meditate. Aim for a minute at first and then work from there. What you’re basically doing is teaching your mind to focus.

Pretty cool, huh?