How ADD flipped upside down in my head, and became a superpower
I wanted to share what flipped in my head around being ADD.
I can miss meetings if I don't set an alarm for myself.
Or, if someone tells me to do something I'll think in my head "yes right away" and then completely space on it. Not all of the time, but sometimes.
And maybe you've felt scattered, or like you forget things easily.
But it's more like I feel the pull of many different interests all at once. For example, in writing this post, I have a few other to-do's that are also calling to me.
So it's hard to get started...But once you get started...
I'll get to that in a moment.
First, I think of ADD as a personality type, not like an identity.
Think of it like Myers Briggs, the Kolbe test, or any major personality type test. Nothing is gospel.
Lots of Doctors are unhealthy, or undereducated.
This isn't a dig at them, it's just that to assume that something or someone is "complete" in knowledge is wrong.
We are all blind, touching a tail, and have no clue the bigger picture belongs to an elephant.
So, I'm weary of buying into any classification of identity too strongly.
If it becomes the lens you look through, you subconsciously blind yourself through that filter.
YOU are not ADD.
But you may learn about how you uniquely are productive, and that can sometimes be useful.
So even though I may or may not be "ADD" it might lead me to some personal insight.
So I wanted to share what flipped in my head around being ADD.
Basically, too late in life, I listened to an Andrew Huberman podcast on the subject. This is like, 3 months ago.
I listen to my podcasts on Youtube, even though I don't watch the video.
Podcast players have yet to adopt an easy system for getting to "chapters" of a show, and for Huberman's podcasts, you often want to skip around a bit. And search is still an issue.
How do you discover new podcasts?
Huberman is highly technical on health and medical subjects. The information is dense, but then he evens things out with "tools" that you can pull from his episodes.
So I'm listening to his show, he's talking through the science... And then it says this:
"It turns out being ADD is actually too much focus, not a lack of focus."
And BOOM, things totally flip for me.
It's not that you can't focus... it's that you get SO focused that you actually FORGET everything else. You tune out other information.
This is why you don't identify with these types of things. I didn't even have it right! All of the cultural connotations of ADD are a lack of focus.
So now I'm empowered. It's all about channeling hyperfocus and working with it around the edges.
And there's almost nothing I enjoy more than playing with the chemistry, environment, biology, and rhythms to find what works for me.
Here is just a small fraction of what you can play with.
- Stimulants like coffee help with focus, but they also can be overdone. If you are already hyper-focused, you sort of just need enough to get to takeoff, to get focused.
- Once you're focused, too much, too quick and you'll burn up in the atmosphere.
- Teas have a slower burn, especially green.
- Hydrating with caffeine helps, as does adding some salt to keep a balance.
You can slow down, too.
- Breathing or certain types of breathing can ground you more in your body. Sometimes the feeling I have is one of a lot of energy in my body or a mismatch of energy in my body vs. my mind. You want to pay attention to this mismatch, who is right? Who's leading who here?
- CBD, stretching, L-Theanine, Adaptogens, something warm, like a shower.
- Music is a stimulant, or relaxant, depending on how it's used. As my personal depth of awareness sharpens, I find myself getting a better understanding of how music impacts the body and mood.
- So, treat music like coffee, or tea, or kava.
- Practically; music without words, vs. music with words. Repetition in beats, vs. variety. All of these things can be played with.
- I like Brain.FM because you never pick what you have to play, and you never get music with words.
- Experimenting with timers has helped me immensely. The point is to set a timer to stop you, not to track time. So when the timer stops the music you're playing or interrupts, it helps you take a step back.
- I use the iPhone timers just as is in the phone.
- I'm also experimenting with Rize for time tracking. Anything that helps you time-block.
Environment, and changing environments.
- Here's a rule I keep: If I get stuck, I don't stay in one spot. I change environments. I don't just stay and sit there and waste the day.
- I like loud, crowded cafes. Somehow it helps me focus. Sometimes I like a quiet office.
- Most times, I benefit from LESS. Fewer tabs, less tech, less tech. Constraints are very useful.
- Wearing a hat, or hood can narrow your focus.
- Bright is better than dark, and bright light has a stimulant effect. Some people like to work at night, but try using one of those SAD lights that beam blue light and you'll find that it can keep you highly alert.
As you can see, all of this is wholly customized. It's contextual. It's ever-changing. The thoughts above are just some of a much wider array.
Self-knowledge and testing are important. Listen to others and their recommendations only as possibilities, not rules.
The point of me sharing this is that if it just helps one person who feels a bit unfocused start to recognize more of how they uniquely work, then I'll be happy.
How are you unique in your focus? What works best for you?
I hope you have a great week,
Stay focused, but not too focused...
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