If the Shoe Fits, Then Why Isn’t It On My Foot?

Terry Matlen, ACSW Health Guide
  • It became another family joke- me searching high and low for my sunglasses, while my youngest daughter is staring at me, her eyes dancing, just waiting for the right time to inform me that they are sitting on my head. Of course, she played it out like a pro, waiting till I had torn apart my car, checked all the kitchen drawers, and ran up and down the stairs, cursing like a madwoman. It wouldn't have become a treasured family story had she told me right away when I'd asked her if she'd seen them. No...


    They say that with age comes wisdom, and I think that may be true to some extent. Since being diagnosed with ADHD nearly 15 years ago, and having worked in the field for over a decade, I've learned a few tricks over the years.

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    What I've learned, at least in my case, is that I don't typically lose things. I misplace them. I think that's in part, due to my anxiety of losing things, period. Some shrug off lost or misplaced things. I, on the other hand, tend to treat my possessions like children. I become hysterical if I don't know where they are.


    Therefore, I discovered long ago that if I'm holding something in my hands that is important to me and that will cause me panic and grief should I lose it, I become mindful of where I set it down. Let me share a tip that might help you when you risk losing something that's important to you. I call it "The ADD Mantra."


    I live my life with mantras (noun: A commonly repeated word or phrase) to help me keep tabs of my things, where I need to be, etc. etc. Obviously, my mantra failed me that day I misplaced the sunglasses. But typically, this is how I generally am able to remember where I put things...


    When I have something in my hands that needs to be put away (later, of course), and as I set it down in the land of nowhere, I start my internal dialogue. Now I happen to know a lot of people whose internal dialogues are not so internal; they tend to talk aloud. So do whatever works for you. In my case, I am a quiet sort, so my script typically goes like this:


    "I'm walking into the kitchen (following a shopping excursion). The bag is in my hand. The bag is in my hand. If I put it THERE, I will forget where I put it. So I will instead put it on the stairs so that I can carry it up to my office after dinner. The bag is on the stairs. The bag is on the stairs. The bag is on the stairs."


    Now to some, this may sound rather obsessive compulsive and it may well be. But for me, it forces me to stay in the present and lays a visual, auditory and verbal pattern in my brain. Chances are, one of those three modalities will stick and when I later wonder where I put that bag, the answer is clear- it's on the stairs.


    Give it a try- the mantra trick just may help you next time you're about to misplace your sunglasses or that shoe that often becomes orphaned the minute you kick it off.

Published On: January 02, 2008