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Friday
Aug162013

How to Deal With Distractions – Concentration Interruptus and “Pseudo ADD”

 

When your thinking is interrupted by your brain,
you’ve got real ADD;
When it’s interrupted by the world,
you just have trouble saying, “No.”

True ADD is about having your concentration (mind) interrupted from inside your brain, because the resting “idle” of your brain cells is too slow. When the resting “RPM” of your brain is too slow, your mind does not become engaged. You’re left functioning from your reptilian brain, reacting more by reflex than by reflection.

Natural adrenaline (which excitement/risk triggers as in extreme sports, trading, speculating and selling) raises the resting RPM of your brain enough to engage your mind (think of needing to get your manual transmission car’s engine beyond 800 RPM or it will stall). When your mind is engaged, it doesn’t think faster. It thinks more clearly because it is able to tune out extraneous stimuli and avoid becoming distracted so easily. Extending the car analogy,  most cars reach their maximum torque (i.e. traction) at the “red line,” but only race car drivers readily drive at those RPM’s because the rest of us would drive our car off the cliff when that happens.

Having your brain travel at this level makes you more goal directed, but it causes you to be less empathic to others. That’s why people with natural ADD (especially young children) often have trouble being sensitive to others. It is not that they are insensitive (i.e. intentionally and purposefully that way), it is just that they are “not” sensitive. Problems arise in relationships when your being not sensitive to others (and not meaning it personally), is taken personally by them.

Giving people with true ADD, Ritalin, Dexedrine, Adderall or other stimulants lessens the need to seek out excitement and adrenaline rush type activities to be able to engage their minds. Another benefit accrues to relationships by being able to listen more patiently. Being able to relate becomes possible whereas being able to achieve was the only option before.  After giving on CEO a stimulant he not only was able to focus on the stories he read to his young children, he became a better poker player because he could tune in more clearly to the “tells” of his opponents instead of just focusing on the cards they were showing.

I first coined the term “Pseudo ADD” twelve years ago, before my suffering from it took me down multiple paths (which makes me diversified on good days, and scattered on bad ones). It occurs when your mind is not interrupted by your brain, but when it is interrupted by the emotional needs and demands from people outside you.

With pseudo ADD, rather than being unempathic, you are too empathic and will drop what you’re concentrating on to attend to the needs of others (what the word “co-dependent” means). You have trouble tuning out the outside world with pseudo ADD and suffer from what I call, “concentration interruptus.” The treatment for Pseudo ADD is not medication, it’s learning to set clearer boundaries between you and people and internalizing it so that you don’t feel guilty guilty (for hurting) or afraid (for upsetting) others when you say, “No.” Often these anxieties have their origins with your having a parent(s) that you were not able to say, “No,” to without their becoming angry or withholding love and support that you were psychologically dependent upon (“How Your Parents Set You Up to Succeed or Fail as a Leader” will be the topic of an upcoming blog).

One of the ways to do that is to schedule regular times when you will not let yourself be interrupted and will tell anyone or everyone ahead of time that you are using those times to gather your thoughts and focus on your priorities.  Another way if you are a boss is to tell people how to best manage up to you by explaining to them that the best way to approach you with matters is beforehand to: a) ask themselves if they really need to speak to you, why and what they want from you; b) have a reasonable (will make sense to you) and realistic (is doable in your company) solution in mind to whatever problem or issue they’re bringing to you so that you can just “rubber stamp” it; c) realize that the more they impinge on your brain space with matters they could handle by thinking more deeply about the issue, taking more initiative and being more resourceful the more negatively that will reflect on your view of them at their next performance review.  The most common way is to have a loyal gatekeeper assistance who guards access to you like a “pit bull” but does so in a friendly and playful manner so that the people they are respectfully saying, “No,” to aren’t miffed.

On the other hand you can do what I have done, which is to have an office away from my work and home where I can have an interruption free space.

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