56: Positive Thinking As a Habit

Positive Thinking As A Habit | ADHD reWired

Positive thinking is the topic of discussion today, as host Eric Tivers talks about the nature of positive versus negative thoughts, how they relate to his personal life and struggles with ADHD, prioritizing certain thoughts over others, and how our thought patterns can become habits through the use of vision statements.

Thought Exercise:

  • Imagine you’re walking toward your car, keys in hand. You enter the car, turn the ignition, and the radio begins to play. Your least favorite song plays from the speakers as you notice the radio is set to a station you would never normally have on. What thoughts and feelings do you think you would be having at that moment?

  • It’s doubtful you would think that, because that particular song and station were playing and selected, you were supposed to be listening to them, or that you would decide to return to that station later on.

  • Most likely, you wouldn’t think too much of the situation at all, change the station, and move on with your life.

  • Just as one wouldn’t listen to music or podcasts they don’t like, one also doesn’t need to listen to all of the thoughts they think. Just because you think it, it doesn’t make it true.

Power of Thought:

  • “If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” — Henry Ford

  • Having spent a lot of time in his head spacing out, Eric realized at a young age the true power of thought; when he set his mind on a goal and was really determined, he often accomplished what he set out to do.

  • It can be easy to pay attention to negative thoughts, just as it can be easy to pay attention to almost everything.

  • Perhaps paying attention to negative thoughts is actually an issue of prioritization (which just so happens to be an element of executive functioning).

  • Identifying and prioritizing  what is and is not important can be difficult.

  • While removing distractions is usually advised, if most people and situations around you are distracting, it may be best to remove yourself from the situation.

  • We should do what we can to not make our distractibility other people’s problems.

Negative Thoughts:

  • Whether they’re thoughts of self-doubt, regret, fear, or just weird, most people do have negative thoughts.

  • Taking any action fires neurons in one’s brain that can establish stronger connections to facilitate the travel of more neurons in the future.

  • “Neurons that fire together wire together.”

  • So, if we can change what we fire, we can change how we wire; we can rewire our brain.

  • Going through life on autopilot with ADHD can be a problem because our autopilot doesn’t work.

Handling Anxiety:

  • Eric has been experiencing bouts of anxiety and depression. His wife pointed out that he went through the same symptoms around the same time last year and in very much the same way.

  • Returning from vacation, Eric had set a goal to de-clutter his office. Unable to find a place to start, he instead played a game on his iPad.

  • Over the next few days, his office began to feel as if it was caving in on him.

  • All Eric was focusing on was how miserable he was in his workspace.

  • Eric decided to reach out to people for help. This lead to a marathon eight-hour phone call after which Eric had an actionable plan that included steps for handling his office, making an appointment with his therapist, talking with specific people, and more.

  • Stepping into his office the day following the phone call, Eric spoke out loud to himself about how grateful he was that he lived close to his office; he began to feel better about being in his office.

  • By focusing on the positive in a very intentional way, Eric was able to feel much better in that moment.

  • When dealing with negative emotions, it’s important to find small steps to take in order to make ourselves feel a little better, bit by bit.

Planning and Productivity, and Self:

  • Eric does better and feels better when he is intentional about his planning, what he thinks about, and is focused on a positive perspective.

  • The clearer the plan, the better the execution.

  • When our idealized self is out of alignment with our actual self, it can be source of depression and anxiety.

  • Those with ADHD often have a larger gap between what they want to be and what they actually do.

  • Eric, in particular, has had for a while a challenging time leaving his office on time to spend time with his family.

Habits:

  • Many people have mentioned to Eric their desire to create good habits.

  • Thoughts are a lot like behaviors: the more we do something the more it becomes a habit.

  • Habits can be desirable because there usually isn’t a lot of mental effort involved in them.

  • Eric instead encourages clients to focus on the next actionable behavior that would help establish those habits.

  • We want to focus on repeating those specific behaviors as much as possible so that a habit is an outcome of the repeated behavior.

Vision Statements:

  • Vision statements are written visions that establishes your goals, who you want to be, what you want to be, and describes those things as if they were already true.

  • When establishing goals, instead of framing them in the future tense (“I will work out more”), if you frame them in the present tense (“I am physically active and fit because I exercise regularly”) and repeat it to yourself on a daily basis, your brain begins to take notice.

  • All statements are written as actions in the affirmative, in that they describe what is being done, rather than what is not being done. (e.g. “I eat fruit and vegetables,” instead of “I do not eat chocolate cake.”)

  • Eric’s vision statements include :

    • I am successful and fulfilled because I am decisive

    • I am an effective and efficient person.

    • I take action, am persistent, and determined.

    • I am a smart business owner because I know the details of my income and expenses.

    • I spend thirty minutes every day learning and growing for personal and professional development by reading or listening to audio books.

    • I am known for responding to people in a timely manner.

    • I know my goals for this month and this quarter because they are in writing an I review them daily.

    • My family is my top priority. My wife and my son know this because I am home every night between 8:00 PM and 8:30 PM.

    • I turn my lights out by 10:30 PM every night and wake up at 6:30 AM every morning.

    • I accept my challenges by facing them head on and by fiercely working on them.

  • By developing the habit of repeating vision statements every day, when a negative thought passes through one’s mind, it may feel strange.

Other information:

  • Eric is collecting videos describing people’s experiences with CHADD. If you are currently involved with CHADD, record a video however you wish (horizontally, please!) of you describing your relationship to ADHD and what CHADD does for you. Send it to Eric via Facebook, Twitter, or email here: [email protected].

  • Help CHADD, an ADHD organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with ADHD through useful research and support, by donating to their fundraising campaign here: gofundme.com/oneof15m.

  • Visit erictivers.com/audible for Carolyn D’Argenio’s list of her top Audible.com audio-book picks, complete with preview links.

  • Connect with people virtually using Eric’s favorite video conferencing and connectivity platform, Zoom, by visiting erictivers.com/zoom – the basic service is totally free.

  • If you want you hear your question or comment on a future episode, go to erictivers.com/adhdrewired and look for the comment form, or click on the yellow button for either “Be a Guest” or “Record your question”.

  • Are you looking for a coach? You can schedule a free 20-minute consultation with Eric. Go to erictivers.com and click the blue “Schedule an Appointment” button

  • http://www.chadd.org/

  • Northern Illinois chapter of CHADD

    • Third Monday of every month at 6:45 PM

    • Grayslake, Illinois

(CHADD does not endorse this podcast)

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