Sunday, August 11, 2013

ADD and Thinking Things Through Before you Act

Sometimes I sit here and simply contemplate the deeper nature of "scatteredness."

How do I become so scattered? What is the mechanism that leads to hundreds of "started by unfinished" projects, by the end of the day? What is the "trigger" that causes me to abandon something I really need to get done, so I can "mess around" with some idea that has no current bearing on what is important?

From time to time, I talk about "Too Many Interests Syndrome." Of course, that's basically an excuse; a rationalization. Sure, I have more interests than most people... and lots of random things I see seem "interesting," but that's not the core issue. LOTS of people experience that. This is a "management" issue.

I used to think that my scatteredness was a result of "feeling resentful" of "having to DO things." I did years of psychoanalysis, chasing my own tail... thinking about being "resentful" of having been raised in a family od "doers" who (in essence) saw my value as tied directly to what I could DO, rather than who I could BE. I was only "seen" (and loved, I felt) for what I could DO for my parents, and so I ended up connecting "feeling loved" with my own ability to do things... even though I actually prefer not to be engaged in constant activity.

By extension, it placed me close to a frame of mind of resentment. A sort of digging in my heels when I reached the "freedom of adulthood" and could make my own choices... every time life gave me something I "had to" do I would space out as a passive aggressive "rebellion" against always having been told what to DO in my life. Of course, usually to my detriment.

But all that psychobabble was really a dead end. Back when I was in therapy, "ADD/ADHD" was exclusively focused on "that hyperactive kid bouncing off the walls, unable to focus and making trouble." And that was never me.

My "issue" was always getting me to move, at all. I'm only half kidding when I say "I have almost never met an idea that could inspire me to actually want to put forth any concentrated effort." Which is not to say that I lack enthusiasm about ideas... just that I invariably end up "dabbling a bit" and then zoning out or "falling asleep to myself."

But let's get back to the "mechanism of scatteredness."

The word I keep coming back to is "obligation." I have a nasty "allergy" to the idea of feeling obligated. The instant something I'm engaged in starts to feel like "an obligation" (like my self-imposed timetable that my eBay auction lots MUST be ready by 7:00pm on Sunday evening) I feel my ability to concentrate go right out the window. It literally feels like the cells in my brain responsible for "focus" commit suicide by jumping out of my ears.

When I am engaged in doing "Thing X" as nothing more than an "exploration" with "no purpose" and "no deadline" and "no expected outcome" I am actually very productive and focused. I can get an amazing amount of stuff done in a short time, as long as I steer far clear of any "you must" thoughts.

So that's a big part of it, right there.

Another aspect of this mechanism is perhaps an intolerance of drudgery. I was going to say "boredom," but that's not really accurate. I'm perfectly content watching grass grow for hours and hours... It's a zoning out "activity" that has no stated purpose and no obligation attached; so no concentration is required.

It's not easy digging around in this stuff, and trying to truly get to the bottom of it.

Getting back to the title of this post-- this "drifting away" often happens because I am not "Present" enough in my own situation (of that moment) to stop and think through what I am about to do, when I want to skip away. It "just happens." When I DO manage to stay present in my own process of the moment, I have far fewer issues with losing my place and zoning out. I "think before I act," rather than "act before thinking." And usually-- even though it requires a kind of "concentration"-- I manage to talk myself into just staying with what I am doing.

I feel that an active "mindfulness practice" is definitely (or CAN be) an important part of managing ADD.

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