AAADD (Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder) – KNOW THE SYMPTOMS! by Becca
This is how it manifests: I decide to water my garden. As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing. As I start toward the garage, I notice mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mail box earlier. I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car. I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full. So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first. But then I think, since I’m going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first. I take my check book off the table, and see that there is only one check left. My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of Pepsi I’d been drinking. I’m going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Pepsi aside so that I don’t accidentally knock it over. The Pepsi is getting warm, and I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold. As I head toward the kitchen with the Pepsi, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye–they need water. I put the Pepsi on the counter and discover my reading glasses that I’ve been searching for all morning. I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I’m going to water the flowers. I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table. I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I’ll be looking for the remote, but I won’t remember that it’s on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I’ll water the flowers. I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor. So I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill. Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.
At the end of the day: The car isn’t washed, the bills aren’t paid, there is a warm can of Pepsi sitting on the counter, the flowers don’t have enough water, there is still only 1 check in my check book, I can’t find the remote, I can’t find my glasses, and I don’t remember what I did with the car keys. Then when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I’m really baffled because I know I was busy all day, and I’m really tired. I realize this is a serious problem, and I’ll try to get some help for it, but first I’ll check my e-mail…
Betsy’s Comment: This is actually how the majority of people spend their entire day, so it is not only an old age phenomena. Although I can imagine the older you get, if you haven’t realized yet that you are stuck turning around your thoughts, I can imagine this phenomena can get much worse. This example excellently describes the reality of being stuck in mind-chatter mode or in the ‘dream state’ as I call it. This is why few people work efficiently and get tasks done without making mistakes. Look at this example above closely and see what causes it, it is the story one is telling oneself with one’s thoughts. Drop the story and you can easily do what you have decided to do like watering the garden.
Stick with your decision to water the garden and start to do the task. As you do the watering, thoughts will naturally arise often about other things that you may want or feel you need to do. Realize these arising thoughts themselves are reactions that can take your attention away from what you are doing right now. Observe the thought, but then remind yourself you are watering the garden now which needs doing and the other things can wait. Allow yourself to relax and not to be in a hurry and to fully enjoy and engage in watering. When thoughts intrude, let them go by and just return your attention to watering. You will need to repeat this as many times as needed as other thoughts intrude to keep your attention on the watering task at hand.
Now put your full attention into the watering task. Look at each plant as you water and see how they are doing. Be aware of how you are doing the watering and how much water you are using. Be aware of your posture while watering and how you use your hands. You may find better posture that doesn’t cause ache in your back or more efficient way to use your hands or watering tools. Some plants like water at the roots, some like to be sprayed to remove dust or insects. Also be aware of time of day you are doing it, there is an ideal time of day to water to not shock the plants, leave them in too much water overnight or when the sun is not too strong. Is weeding or harvesting needed? If so you can do that at the same time. Do some plants need more water? Do all plants need more water? Are you watering too often? Do some look sick? Investigate any plant that is suffering by looking closer at it. Does it have insects on it? Does it like the location it is planted in? Maybe this plant likes more sun or shade. Maybe you are watering too often, are the plants waterlogged or losing moisture too quickly? You might need mulch or to add different material to the soil for better drainage. Pay attention to your garden while you water and only use the amount of water that is needed. Then you may learn something about your garden and next time you can remedy those things such as adding mulch or sand or soil nutrients, remove bugs, transplant a plant or even install drip irrigation. As you attend to your watering in this way, you will learn and help your garden by making adjustments and will reduce amount of time it takes to tend to and water you garden. You and your garden will be happier and will produce more.
When you are done with the watering, then take a few minutes to think about what you should do next. Go over in your mind the things you need to do next, and make a decision of what is most important and stick to that task by engaging fully in the task at hand in the same way. When you go about your day like this, stress rarely builds up and you enjoy everything you are doing, it is like doing a dance or creating a beautiful work of art, no matter what you are working with. This is connecting your heart to your hands and it is a beautiful thing giving much joy of being and doing.
The amazing thing is that once you get into this groove, you can do so much more in a day which seems counter intuitive. People rather think you have to rush to get much done. The old adage: “Haste Makes Waste” has much truth. The reality is that the ‘rushing feeling’ keeps one in the mind-chatter state and stress builds all day, because you never relax and enjoy even one thing you are doing. Rushing you are never present, always thinking ahead to the next thing you have to do. And then at the end of the day, you are like the AAADD person wondering what the heck you did all day long and feeling exhausted from your “busy doing”, you look back and realize you hardly got anything done that needed doing.
Now, this may seem simple to understand but the reality is the mind-chatter phenomena or dream state is a really old habitual way of living daily life, so to learn how to drop it and just relax and engage with single-pointed focus on one task, takes much practice – like learning a new habit. The good news is the more you practice doing this, the more it becomes your new habit and the more joy one gets of out life and the more you get done with less effort. This by itself then motivates you more to just drop all these intruding thoughts and relax and enjoy the present moment.
December 22, 2014