Do you even wonder why you can’t pay attention?
Many of my clients with or without ADD/ADHD are troubled with this. They keep asking, "So how do I pay attention?"
I think a better question is WHY can’t I pay attention?
ADD is situational. Looking back, daydreaming was probably a lot more interesting than driving but I wasn’t even aware. That particular situation had me bored.
You didn’t set out to NOT pay attention.
Most likely not paying attention was due to the situation.
Symptoms such as overwhelm, disorganization, unable to concentrate or hyperfocus most likely can appear when your anxious, bored, overstimulated, understimulated, disinterested, stressed out and/or afraid. These symptoms don’t happen all the time. They are linked to specific situations. Isolate the situations and this becomes part of the process to pay attention better.
Here are five easy steps that can help you increase your attention:
1. ADD is situational. Keep track of YOUR specific situations. By learning what situations cause you to wander, you’ll be better able to pay attention and to anticipate when you might wander. By paying attention to the situation you might find yourself more engaged. Try it!
2. Take note of when you’re distracted and can’t pay attention. This is the first step in practicing how to pay attention. This usually occurs after you catch yourself and realize: "I’m not paying attention!" or if you are with someone they might say, "Are you paying attention?"
3. Observation: Remember back to the time or situation. What had you loose focus? Was it something that someone said? What did you notice that had you think of something else? Were you bored or did you have another idea that stimulated you? It makes sense if you’re bored your brain might be looking for something more interesting. Right?
4. "The Drift": How long? Once you pinpoint the situation, how much time did it take before you became aware. Five minutes? Thirty seconds? I call this "the drift." Over time you can shorten the drift time as you keep making note.
5. Creativity Seeking Its Own Level ADD people are incredibly creative and inventive. What if there was another reason you weren’t paying attention?
What if it were creativity? You are bursting with ideas. I like to think that our inability to pay attention can be related to the amount of ideas we generate. Could not paying attention be creativity seeking its own level?
You can learn to pay attention. It takes awareness and practice. I’m a firm believer: the more you know, the more you grow. You better today knowing you have ADD.