As an adult, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. Growing up, I had a horrible time in school and with any activity where I had to sit still and concentrate. That made college so difficult I graduated with poor grades. It also made life in general hard. My relationships suffered because I was not present with myself, much less other people or my pets. My mind was always off somewhere else. So when I was accepted into a master’s program in leadership I really wanted to get a handle on my attention. I went to a psychiatrist and had the tests. She told me I had ADD worse than most of the people she had seen and prescribed Ritalin.
My life immediately changed – for the worse. I could not sleep, had no appetite, lost lots of weight, and was fuzzy from the drugs. After two months of giving the drugs a chance I quit them. While Ritalin slightly improved my ability to concentrate, the tradeoffs were not worth it. Even without the medication I was determined to get a handle on my concentration. The motivation to undertake this challenge was the realization that when I was disconnected from my thoughts I was also disconnected from my heart and life which is only real in the present moment. That inspired me to teach myself to intentionally stay present with and responsible for my thoughts.
To master my attention I first taught myself to remain connected to what I am thinking. That is, I am aware of thinking what I am thinking and why I am thinking it (emotional connection). Each time I catch my mind wandering I return my thoughts to the present. I force my mind to concentrate on what I want to focus on rather than allowing my thoughts to disconnect me from what is going on in the NOW. With intentional effort I taught myself to be constantly aware of what I am thinking.
Second, to remain connected to my thoughts I taught myself to evaluate the reality of each thing I think – is what I am thinking real, true, important, based on fear, is my mind trying to carry me to the past or future? By constantly evaluating my thoughts I now know where my mind is at all times.
This week, begin retraining yourself to stay connected to your thoughts – each and every one of them. Yes, it is easier said than done but that mind-chatter is the first place to start mastering a mind that has a mind of its own. Do not let your mind tell you what you can and cannot do. Allow the wisdom of your wise, loving heart to be your guide. Be thoughtful of thinking and you will stay connected to your heart by staying connected to your thoughts.
When you know what you are thinking and evaluate the motivation behind your thoughts you will remain in control of yourself. You will stay present. You will become a master of changing negative thoughts to positive. You will create a life of love, compassion and purpose because you think about what you think while you think it.