Imagine you are sitting in a meeting, maybe it’s a conference call, and for the first 15 minutes you’re hearing every word being said by the other participants. But then you look out your window and see a man walking a dog. Your mind wanders.
Suddenly the voices coming through your phone simply become a part of the background, white noise. What matters is that you’re looking out the window, mind blank, the man and the dog are gone, and so is your focus.
Twenty minutes later you hear someone calling your name. It’s a disembodied voice piping through the phone. Your heart leaps a little when you realize you did it again – spaced out when you should have been tuned in.
People with inattentive ADD truly understand this scenario. It’s been a part of our lives for as long as we can remember. In fact, the bungee bounce we do between daydreaming and hyper-focus defines the better part of our consciousness.
When it comes to ADHD, most folk think of the “H”. Unfortunately, people with inattentive ADD typically don’t manifest the “H” in obvious ways. Oh, it’s there. It’s just harder to see.
Because it’s harder to see, a majority of people with the inattentive variety of ADD aren’t easily diagnosed (or are never diagnosed). One of the reasons more boys are diagnosed than are girls is that females tend to have inattentive ADD. Many women aren’t diagnosed until their children are diagnosed.
So, what characteristics might we look for in someone with inattentive ADD? Here is a list of nine common traits. A person with inattentive ADD will manifest at least seven of these.
Careless mistakes. Oh man, has this one bitten me in the butt! I’ll have written an article in record time, proud of myself for beating a deadline. I think it’s perfect and click send…only to learn that I’ve transposed letters in a person’s name and have two other typos – including one in the headline. Lesson: please, get someone to proof your work.
Short attention span. I’d say this is a dominant characteristic of inattentive ADD. If we’re doing something boring, mundane, routine – it’s a given that we’ll be looking out the window, or even staring at our computer screen for hours…
No follow through. We start really well…and then the attention thing kicks in, we get distracted, forget to write down what the next step is supposed to be, misplace the phone number we’re supposed to call. And then…nothing happens. And the people around us quickly lose faith and trust in our ability to get anything done.
Poor listening skills. It’s a fact, our mind begins to wander…especially during a long conversation. Or, something pops into our head and we interrupt, blurting out the disconnected thought. Either way, we’re not listening. And, when we are listening, it’s not uncommon for us to ask our partner in the conversation to repeat what they said many times.
Forgetfulness. Another key characteristic. Here’s the deal, if you don’t write down the things you need to do, and remember to look at your list frequently, you will forget to do things.
Misplacing things. Have you ever left your car keys in the refrigerator? I have…
Laziness or apathy. Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I was called lazy. But, we’re not lazy, are we? Apathetic, maybe. To be engaged we need to be interested in what we’re doing. If we’re not interested, we don’t care.
Distractability. We specialize in rabbit-trailing. Shiny objects…well, you know. It’s real easy for us to get off track.
Disorganization. Our filing system tends to be a series of stacks. Our car hasn’t fit into our garage for decades.
Whew! Are you tired yet? You see, being inattentive takes a lot of energy. It’s not uncommon for us to be completely tapped out when we get home at night. Our condition creates a lot of stress.
That being said, there is a way to manage this stuff, reduce the drama, and actually create a life that is fulfilling.
In the coming weeks we’ll tackle a few of these tactics with a goal of experiencing a new level of authenticity and joy.