Many people have the idea that individuals with ADHD have a hard time focusing on anything. That’s not really true. Comparing ADHD focusing to camera focusing might be helpful.
My wife, Linda, has an actual camera which she prefers to a phone camera because of the options it provides for focusing. With the camera, she can either choose automatic pre-set settings, or she can give herself more control of the focus by adjusting the settings manually.
Those of us with ADHD can also be thought of as having two focus “modes” – an automatic, pre-set way of focusing and a manual way of focusing.
One way our pre-set focusing can show up is as hyperfocus. Hyperfocus is when we become so engaged with something interesting that our interest-based nervous systems (the pre-sets) strongly resist letting go of that focus. (Hyperfocusing can be a valuable strength in some situations and a significant problem in others.)
On the other hand, when we find a task less interesting, it is hard for us to resist distractions. Almost anything seems more interesting than the task at hand – despite our best intentions. Usually we do not consciously choose to be distracted. Our under-stimulated brains need more stimulation than neurotypical brains to feel comfortable, so our minds remain restlessly hungry for more stimulation.
This is where “manual focusing” comes into play. The less interesting a task, the more we have to manually put tools and strategies in place to help us focus.
One powerful strategy that has proven to help folks calm their restless ADHD brains is meditation. It may seem quite unlikely that someone with a super active ADHD brain could meditate. But research has shown that folks with ADHD can, with practice, become good meditators and can calm their brains so they can focus on less interesting but necessary tasks. This article from “Psychology Today” shares some very helpful information on that topic.
Over ten years ago, Kate Kelly and Peg Ramundo wrote an article for ADDitude magazine called “Forget the Lotus Position – How to Meditate ADHD Style.”
This article contains a great deal of wisdom that can be very helpful to folks who think they may never be able to slow down or rise above their steady stream of thoughts. I highly recommend reading it and trying out some of their suggestions if you would like to improve your ability to focus.
And remember – meditation is a practice, as they point out in the article. Enjoy your practicing!