If you’ve got ADHD and truly observe your behavior, you might come to realize that thinking is effortful. It’s very challenging for people with ADHD to actually pause and engage their thinking mind to override their automatic responses. There is value in doing that if you actually make that happen.
You can spend more time and effort trying to solve a problem with all the anxiety and kicking the can down the street. Often, I’m trying to coach people to pause and begin to watch their own behavior in order to self-regulate. What I want to bring attention to is that sometimes you have to pause and understand society’s challenges in self-regulation. Unfortunately, the dynamics in our world make things difficult.
Recently, I went to the airport to pick up a friend. I found it interesting that, although there were several flights with baggage being delivering to one particular baggage line, everyone was crammed up against the baggage belt. It was almost impossible to see your bag if it passed by, and if you did, it was difficult actually getting to it.
I reflected back to a time years ago when I was at an airport baggage claim where the attendant actually had everybody stand 30 feet away. When you saw your bag, you would just walk up and easily take it off the belt and remove yourself from the situation. I’d like to point out that, if the world would just step back and self-regulate, it would make things much easier for everyone.
Now, because of our self-centered world, everybody is focused on the here and now. Often, they do things that are convenient for them, like sending or replying to email in the evening because that’s when they have time or access to their computer . What happens is that the email conversation spans hours, days, or maybe weeks. Emails are convenient but piecemeal conversations over time are not quite productive. It seems to me that, if we would just take the time to have the meeting or call and talk through whatever the situation is, then resolution could be made relatively quickly. What looks like convenience is also far less productive.
I also find online dynamics to be quite challenging these days. Far too many organizations require online visitors to go to their frequently-asked-questions page or to search their knowledge base. Quite frankly, this is extremely convenient for the organization, and for you, as well, if you can find what you want, but for the rest of us, it means getting an education on everything over and over again.
For example, once when I had an issue concerning a bank I’ll refer to as Bank XYZ, their customer service directed me to the bank’s Website. Quite frankly, I didn’t need to get my Ph.D. on their bank; I just needed to get the answer to my question. I was quite frustrated after going through the interactive voice response system for 20 minutes while the automated voice is reading a script.
Regrettably, this scenario occurs far too often with far too many organizations. At the end of the day, it would be much easier if I could get somebody on the phone, and it would all be done in five minutes.
You can’t change society, so what do you do? The point is that you can begin to pause and notice what actually is. For instance, after getting off the plane, take time to go to the bathroom or find a place to sit down and do a bit of work before you go to the baggage area. This small delay would allow the crowd to thin out so you can find your baggage much easier. When you get an email launching a discussion, pick up the phone and call or schedule a time to have a phone discussion to resolve that particular issue.
I’m also getting increasingly leery about how I do business. I don’t do business online with Bank XYZ anymore simply because of their do-it-yourself page. Instead, I go to the local branch. Even though I don’t receive much interest on my savings as I might, possibly because of the bank’s cost of automation, I can call or go to the local branch and get help whenever I need it.
Additionally, whenever I’m dealing with a tool, I would be just as happy to hire somebody to show me how to use it or at least demonstrate it. I waste far too much time hunting for what I need and learning irrelevant things. I’d rather speak to an actual person to pick their brain on what I need to learn first, efficiently, and then build upon that. It’s especially infuriating when I’m thrown into a situation where I spent far too much time learning the tool only to find out it’s not really even useful to me.
The trick here is to realize society has a self-regulation problem. Society does everything in its own self-interest, which makes things more difficult for people with ADHD. What I hope is that this inspires you to pause and begin to think about what you’re doing, to self-regulate around others who don’t self-regulate. In the end, it will take a bit of effort, but you will save yourself a good deal of anxiety, stress, and frustration.