Attending to the Concepts of “Broken” and “Wrong”

In this article, we are paying attention to the concepts of “broken” and “wrong.” Both are a function of attention or what one is attending to. Why this theme? Because the notions of being broken and being wrong are huge obstacles for those with ADHD.

If you attend to being broken, you can’t see being fixed. If you attend to the concept of wrong, you can get hung up on perfectionism. Dr. Mark Katz has a presentation, titled “There Is Nothing So Wrong with Us That What’s Right with Us Can’t Fix.” That is brilliant! Let’s think about different ways of looking at things.

Impulsivity is an ADHD trait and is judged negatively. Dr. Ned Hallowell, author of Driven to Distraction, made the observation that creativity is impulsivity gone right! Think about it. By nature, creativity manifests out of impulse. Is that negative? Is that something to be fixed?

Consider this. A teacher labels a student “distracted” if the student is not attending to a boring lesson. I say the student is curiously observing the cockroach running across the floor. Curiosity is a positive trait, and many with ADHD are curious. The judgment of the teacher is, in part, a function of what is being attended to, i.e., focused on the lesson. An unbiased observation might be that the student was more curious about the cockroach than the lesson. Is curiosity a bad thing? Do we not want people to be curious?

Years ago, I wrote an article, titled “What Is Your Ego Paying Attention To?”  I encourage you to read it, as it illustrates how the ego delights in pointing out the mistakes of others and how something is fixed by appearing to be broken, which is the most insightful point. Let me repeat that. It is fixed by appearing broken. If it didn’t look broken, the benefits would be lost.

Another fun article that focuses on mistakes is titled “When the Ego’s Belief Mistook the Wrong Thief, It Caused Such Grief!”  The Valerie Cox poem in that article is one we can all relate to at some point and on some level in our lives pointing out the moment when we attend to the realization that our ego made a mistake.

The notion of attending to what works can be challenging in the face of conditioned behavior to focus on “fixing.” In my interview with him, Dr. Terry Dickson recounted how much more difficult coach training was for him because of his own medical diagnosis and “fix” training. Often, he got himself in a coaching conversation focused on “fixing” the client. What is powerful about this is that he acknowledged how useful the coaching paradigm can be in helping individuals move forward.

Finally, our featured video is an interview I did with Dr. Roberto Olivardia ( and his struggle studying in a quiet room. He was quite fixed on studying and writing his doctoral dissertation with a fast beat of punk rock music in the background or even with a video playing on his computer screen.

The point of this article illustrates how what is fixed or broken is a function of attention. Attend to what is broken and you can’t see what is fixed. In the days to come, consider putting judgment aside and looking for what is fixed and what works; then notice what you had not noticed. If you do, you might discover many unexpected insights.


2 thoughts on “Attending to the Concepts of “Broken” and “Wrong”

  1. This is so inspiring. Jeff, what a gift you you gave me today with this reminder. Your words are right on. Thank you!
    Please keep writing inspiring articles. We all benefit from these reminders of our wholeness in our diversity and differences. You are a joy!

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