Does Having ADHD Make it Harder to Change Habits?


We all have them, bad habits or maybe just things we do that we want to change. Maybe loose a few pounds or stop yelling at the dog. :-)

What habits are you trying to change?

The science on changing habits has increased dramatically with the ability to read brains with all kinds of electronic measuring tools. The basic premise is the same since Pavlog’s dogs. Now we can watch what happens in the brain as this happens.

The process of habit activity in the brain works like this:

We receive a cue, it could be anything, a sound, a feeling, a sight, a stomach grumble, seeing our self in the mirror and  then some automatic action (routine) starts happening. something we don’t have to think about, or at least requires minimal brain activity. The we receive a reward. It can be tiny, a positive thought, a feeling of satisfaction, pride sometimes a physical reward.

This can be seen on the electronic monitoring of brain activity.

The stimulous of the cue, the brain activity following and when the goal has been met the brain activity associated with reward.

We can see the routine and the results of the routine. The cue and the rewards not so much.

To change a habit we need to identify the cue and what reward we will receive and force a routine that is alien to the automatic response of the cue you presently have.

This is seen on the brain testing. The new routine causes a much higher level of brain activity than the automatic response and depending on the reward may not be discernable for a while.

For young children and animals that reward needs to be immediate or there is no reason to make that habit an automatic response.

For many ADDers this may be part of the problem we face. Not only do we miss cues but rewards can be hard to process. Without enough rewards even little ones the end result we were so excited about becomes cloudy and eventually not worth the effort.

So now there is one more thing we have to learn and maybe fight harder for.

The good news is that with science on our side we can see what works and incorporate it into our daily lives. Not that we need to wire your brain but the lessons learned can be followed.

I found this new book: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. It really explains all of this in a easy to read fashion by telling stories of small personal changes and huge changes across large organizations.

Here is a great video about his discoveries and the ways to change a habit

There are some links to more articles about this fascinating  book and topic. I hope it can inspire you to change some habits. If you do decide to purchase this book I’d appreciate your support of this site buy purchasing through this link.




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