I lost my debit card the other day – always a distressing thing, but made even more so because it was for the account that I share with my dad. The money in it is his; I have a card in case of emergencies.
I went through all the usual stuff when I realized the card was gone – when did I last see it, what was I doing, where had I been? It was all useless of course. I ended up calling the bank and canceling the card.
We all go through that process of review when we lose something, and I don’t think it ever works for anyone, whether or not they have ADD. I think that part of the reason is that we have a temporary lapse in attention – we’re distracted by something or preoccupied – and we don’t notice what we’re doing.
When you have Attention Deficit Disorder, though, that state of being distracted or preoccupied is pretty much a normal state of being. It’s the way we live much of our lives. I know that I’m constantly in a state of anticipation – living in the future. I’m always looking ahead to what’s happening next, what I have to do or remember – so much so that I miss much of what’s going on here and now.
ADD sort of sets up this vicious cycle: when you have it, you know that you have a tendency to forget things, to not pay attention, to miss signals and social cues from others. It gets you into hot water – people get irritated with you, think you’re unreliable or irresponsible, immature – you get the picture. So you try really hard to be better, to remember and pay attention, and you end up doing what I do – always anticipating the next thing – living in the future instead of the moment. The irony is, it doesn’t do you any good. When you’re so preoccupied with anticipating and being ready for what’s next, you miss what’s happening right now – which of course, means you miss bits of conversation, don’t realize where you put things, and do all the things in the now that you’re trying to avoid in the future.
There is a solution, one I try to work on every day. It ties in to the post I made recently about meditation and ADD. It’s called mindfulness – being fully present in the moment. It requires an effort on your part, but not a huge one. It’s just the act of really taking note of your five senses and what they’re telling you: what do you hear, see, feel, smell, or taste?
You might want to start out, as I have, practicing this new skill when you’re alone. That makes noting what you hear, in particular, easier.
The other day, I sat on the deck, and practiced paying attention:
- I noted sounds: the birds, some kids playing across the street, a dog barking, the frogs down by the lake.
- I noted sights: I watched a mama duck & her babies on the lake, the leaves on the trees fluttering in the breeze, the dog sleeping in the sun.
- I took note of what I felt: the breeze and the sun on my face, the chair I was sitting on.
You may not always have all 5 senses to concentrate on, but that’s OK. Just involve the ones you can. I can’t promise you’ll remember where you left your keys or your cell phone, but if you keep it up, I promise you’ll be surprised at how rich your memories will be. (By the way, this is an amazingly effective tool for school.)