Where do thoughts come from? That’s a question that brings up a LOT of different answers from scientists, philosophers, theologians, educators, and many others. One thing those of us with ADHD know is that wherever thoughts come from, we seem to have lots of them! And often they don’t seem to want to stop coming.
Most of us usually think in terms of “me” as one thing and “my thoughts” as another thing. We may not quite realize we’re doing that, but when we say things like, “I couldn’t stop my racing mind,” or “I watched my thoughts going down that rabbit hole,” we are making a distinction between “me” and “my thoughts/mind.”
That’s a very useful distinction. Once you notice that you are the observer of your thoughts, you are in a position to respond to them differently. In my coaching practice, my clients and I use the Positive Intelligence paradigm to help raise our awareness of thought patterns, since some patterns are helpful and others are extremely negative and damaging.
You might also consider watching your thoughts for what some folks like to call ANTs – Automatic Negative Thoughts. Most of us can find quite a few ANTS crawling around in our thoughts, and often they repeat or form patterns. Some of those patterns are called “cognitive distortions.” Watching for them may help you correct them, since usually they are simply not true.
There is a very helpful article about cognitive distortions on the Psych Central website. This article lists fifteen different cognitive distortions with examples of each.
One of the habitual thought patterns listed is Polarization or All-or-Nothing Thinking (sometimes referred to as Black-and-White Thinking). Between black and white are many shades of grey. Few things are absolutely black or white.
It’s surprising how easily one can feel like a total failure even though it is never true. When we think such a thought, it might help to counter it with examples of the many successes we have had. One of those successes might even be recognizing that cognitive distortion and correcting it!
If you are like me, you will likely recognize several of the cognitive distortions listed in the Psych Central article as patterns showing up at times in your own thoughts. Learning about those patterns, watching for them, and correcting them can have a huge impact on your confidence and happiness! In my experience, the Positive Intelligence ( PQ) system is one of the most powerful tools for this learning, watching, and correcting. That’s why I have made it a central part of my coaching and why my clients and former clients continue to use it to improve their thinking, and their life experiences.