Tracking the Pinball mind of an ADDer

In the arcade were big machines that played games. The very same games that you can now play on your pocket-sized iPod or phone. One such popular game was pinball – you’ve probably seen it. The game is all about keeping a metal ball, the pinball, from rolling into a hole. It can get pretty fast-paced, as there are lots of bumpers and gadgets that make the ball shoot all over the board.

The ADD mind is a lot like a pinball. It’s impulsive, changing directions at lightning-fast speeds and jumping from A to D, skipping over B and C.

My friend and travel partner Larry sometimes has a hard time following my train of thought. Watching me jump from A to D without knowing how to keep up can be extremely frustrating to Larry, a non-ADDer. This can be bad for our friendship and business partnership.

I don’t want my pinball mind to add strain to my relationships, so I try to keep the following in mind and encourage you to do the same:

  1. Recognize that that’s how your brain works: There’s no shame in it, and there’s no ON/OFF switch. And because there’s no shame in it, it’s okay to tell people that your brain moves quicker than your mouth can keep up with. A lot quicker. Ask for patience and understanding, but also be okay with being asked to slow down and explain.
  2. Learn to keep track of your train of thought: This requires a lot of practice, but it’s well worth the effort! ADDers tend to let the carriage run wild without any control of the reins, to borrow from the Western movie genre, and to take a lesson from Westerns, those carriages are often headed straight toward cliffs – not a good direction to go in. Deliberately track your thoughts to understand how you got from A to D. Why? I’ve found that slowing down and retracing my steps has actually enhanced my creativity because I don’t miss a single turn that my brain takes as it searches for solutions to the questions before me.
  3. Think before you speak: Lots of ADDers think/process out loud, and that can be confusing for other people. Listening to what goes through the ADD mind is an experience in chaos – we might start at the North pole and not five minutes later conclude that the South pole is actually where we prefer to be. I try to wait until I have the complete thought before airing it to friends or even an audience of thousands, but if I do catch myself in the middle of a hectic rant, I again try to reassure the person I’m talking to that I’m just processing and to give me a moment to collect my thoughts.

Keep the above in mind and it might help you save your family and friends some major frustration. And that, will help to get us all to a happy place, like the legendary video arcade, together.