When I was young, everyone talked like I did where I grew up. Everyone except my father. Well, okay, he talked like everyone else … except when he got excited, then he would slip back into his old accent.
He came from Newfoundland and I thought his accent was neat. It didn’t help that it came out when he was upset. It came out when he was upset with me, trying to lecture me about something he thought I should be aware of. He was less amused when he found out I was amused.
When I first heard my grandfather talk, I realized he sounded like dad when dad was upset, but grandpa sounded like that all the time. The accent is lilting, borrowing much from Irish, Scottish and English accents.
To this day I associate a Newfoundland accent with people who care. I’ve had occasion to discover that isn’t always the case, but the stereotype persists in my mind. If someone comes from the rock, chances are I’ll accept them as a brother or sister until they burn me. And when that happens, I’ll rationalize this by saying they are an anomaly, not the norm.
This is a very simple example of how we, people with ADHD, seem to have an ability to be intuitive. We observe a common trait among a group of people who share other commonalities and we associate the trait with the other attributes.
When we are proven wrong in one instance, we don’t abandon the model, we assume an anomaly and either accept that our rule isn’t a hard rule, or that there are finer, more intricate indicators we need to study.
But we don’t do this with our conscious minds. We do it with the part of our mind that goes so fast its processes are a blur. This gives the impression that we almost read minds. We even think sometimes that we can read minds.
We persist in this even though we aren’t always right. Sometimes we make assumptions that leave us so in the wrong that we line up with everyone else to charge ourselves, try us for our indiscretions, and sentence ourselves. We are so angry, we advocate for a life sentence. We swear we’ll never do it again.
But of course, we’ll forget that we’ve been sentenced, forget our anger, forget the whole thing and start making assumptions, being intuitive, taking shortcuts, reading minds again in a very short time.
It’s okay to assume something about someone so long as you don’t reveal your assumptions until you’ve proven them.
So what’s the answer to this problem? Forgiveness? Self chastisement? Becoming a hermit? Maybe, but what about acceptance. You are you. I am me. If we could change, we would have by now.
I’m not saying you should go ahead and assume things. I’m suggesting that we accept that we do this. I’m saying we ought to observe ourselves doing this and maybe use it. Watch out for when you might be wrong, but observe how often you’re right. It’s okay to assume something about someone so long as you don’t reveal your assumptions until you’ve proven them.
And maybe not even then. Being right doesn’t mean you have the right to reveal secrets about others. We must think of ourselves as super heroes, we must use our power for good and not evil.
Besides, we could be wrong.
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Last reviewed: 26 Feb 2013