Doing in your head before doing in the world

I want to talk about an inattentive experience I’m having today. It’s been a long while, luckily, since I’ve dealt with this one, but I must have just the right mix of fatigue, estrogen (big effect on the AD/HD), and piles of stuff to do. From working with my clients I think it’s an experience a lot of predominantly inattentive type folks have, and maybe some non-ADD folks as well, but it’s something with which people usually struggle without having it identified. It goes like this:

I have an errand or chore to do. I think of this task, then I start doing it— in my head. I imagine all the details of it in sequence. It’s the kind of visualization that you would think would be helpful if you were an athlete with a goal, and you actually intended to imagine it in mind-numbing detail.

Only you didn’t mean to imagine it at all, and rather than being a tool of getting focused, it feels like something your mind is doing; it is going through a whole activity on its own, without your permission. It just goes there and does that. So I’ve gotten in the car, with all of my stuff (and in my case, the baby and his stuff). I’ve driven to 128 south, got off a few exits later and driven down another road to the running store. I’ve parked, got the baby out of his seat and into his stroller, walked over to the store, tried to explain to the salesperson that I want the cheaper running shoes, accepted the fact that this still puts me in the $90 range, tried them on, mulled and been uncertain, grumbled, purchased, and departed. Oh wait! I’m still at home thinking about doing this. Oh drat! now it seems tiring and boring, for I’ve gone through the mental motions already.

It’s easier to deal with this mental rehearsal crap now that I:

  • Know it happens
  • Don’t criticize myself for it
  • Know that even though I’ve done it in my head, I don’t necessarily have the energy/time to really do it today
  • Let it go if I don’t do it
  • Watch the whole process just go by, like a river I’m sitting next to.
  • See it as what my brain is up to, not what I’m choosing to do.
  • Check in about my energy level and general state of being ~ why is my mind off in uncontrolled land today?
  • Try to laugh it off

I have realized from my own experiences and talking with others that this is the kind of experience that people don’t talk about that much as part of their inattentive experience. Yet it can be exhausting. And it can be confused with ruminating or obsessing. I see it more as my mind going off on an adventure without me… sound familiar to anyone?