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The Fastest Way To Start Changing Thought Patterns For ADHD

Written by: Bas den Blaauwen, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Bas den Blaauwen

A full head, unhelpful thoughts, stuck in thoughts. ADHD often brings unpleasant thought patterns along with it. We often try to change these thought patterns, but this is not that easy. To do so, first, you have to empower yourself to enable change. This simple hack can help with that.

Image photo of Bas den Blaauwen

When I was diagnosed with ADHD type 3 at the age of 24, I was very happy and relieved. When the psychologist said 'You have ADHD', tears spontaneously rolled down my cheeks. It felt good, like some recognition that I wasn't crazy. Instead, it all had something to do with ADHD. Finally, I didn't have to feel guilty about my messiness and chaos. It's a part of me.


I was immediately given medication and that helped me to focus longer and to better organize my environment. In fact, it helped so much that I got up from bed in the middle of the night to change the litter box. After a few months, my wife got a little tired of me. I kept going and going while acting very tense, but I didn't notice it. It became clear that this no longer worked for me.


When I started my training as an ADHD coach, I decided to stop taking medication completely. All the chaos was back and my head was full of random thoughts. I knew I had to think of another way to deal with this. But thinking of something like that for yourself. It’s not that easy.


Now, looking back, I know exactly where I was able to make the biggest mindset change, which put me on the path to improvement in no time. It opened my brain to new input and change.


How it works


Our energy level, behavior, and thoughts are largely controlled by our subconscious mind. And it takes everything literally. I'll give you an example:


If I think 'math is difficult', my subconscious will not take many actions in learning to do the math. In the meantime, I wonder why I don’t get motivated to start practicing it.But if I think 'math is fun', there will be more action in math and I will get better at it. This is how a mindset works.


Our subconscious has different levels. One of the deepest levels is the identity level. This level controls what thoughts we have, what we consider important, what we learn, and our behavior. So a lot is determined at this level. Now imagine if I think: 'I'm a bad mathematician'. My subconscious takes this literally and thinks 'OK, I'm like this' and nothing changes. I won't practice or be motivated to do anything with it. If I were to think 'I am a mathematician in training', this literal thought would encourage me to practice. After all, the identity level determines what we find important and what we are going to learn.


Confusion


We often confuse who we are with what we do. You often notice that in language. If someone is busy, we say 'That person is busy'. Or, if someone eats a lot of sweets, we say 'That person is a sweettooth'. What happens is that the person unconsciously takes what is said literally. And just like with the math example, the wobbling child in the classroom will start moving again because his subconscious always acts from 'I am busy'. The sweet tooth will keep on snacking against their better judgment.


Link with ADHD


When I was diagnosed with ADHD, I immediately attached it to my identity. ‘I have this, it's part of me’. The only changes I could make were suggested by others because no solutions came from within. My subconscious took it very literally. And so I was stuck with a huge list of well-intentioned tips, which did not help, and medication, which did not work well for me either.


Imagine being called “messy,” “absent,” or “weird” all the time. Or that you have just had a psychologist who says that you have ADHD. Would your subconscious help you come up with new creative ways to learn to do things in your own way? Experience shows: usually not. Most of the thoughts I encounter from clients about themselves are “I am” thoughts. 'I'm not good enough', 'I'm busy', 'I'm different', 'I'm weird', 'I'm a bad student', and so on. These thoughts bring with them all kinds of tensions, which in turn cause the classic behaviors of ADHD (see this article).


From powerlessness to taking control


The trick is to change the "I am" thoughts to "I do" thoughts. 'I do' thoughts control very little in the brain, so you are less bothered by a subconsciousness that does not help you. It gives you back a lot of power and can put you in control again.


Some examples:


Instead of 'I'm busy' you can think: 'I act busy'.


Instead of 'I'm bad at math' you can think: 'I learn math’.


Instead of 'I am sloppy' you can think: 'I often act sloppy'.


Instead of 'I'm tired' you can think: 'I act tired'.


And for me, this was the biggest mindset that accelerated my development:


Instead of 'I have ADHD' you can think: 'I do ADHD'.


Regardless if it is true or not. This way of thinking not only gives you the control to initiate change but also gives you responsibility. You take responsibility for what you do, without having to judge yourself for it. You can remain more relaxed and see behaviors become interesting to explore rather than condemned. You can be creative with it. The first step is to recognize your 'I am' thoughts and then turn them into 'I do' thoughts as much as you can. You will see that this becomes easier and faster.


You are what you think


You are what you want to be because your subconscious will help you with it. After all, you are what you identify with. Be aware of what you will wear as an identity and what you will wear as behavior. For example, I learned to play several musical instruments by consciously adopting 'I am musical' as an identity. It ensured that I was not inhibited from practicing and trying out. Coaching only really started going well when I started saying 'I am a coach' out loud to people. Some thoughts might be a little persistent, so practice it with other thoughts that are easier first.


Of course, this does not immediately solve all your misery, there is always practice to be done. But it does provide an opening to start actively changing your thought patterns. Think of it as a first step to take. If you then want to get started with more peace of mind, you can always contact our (online) ADHD specialists at ADHD Masters for help and guidance with ADHD.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, and visit my website for more info!

Bas den Blaauwen Brainz Magazine
 

Bas den Blaauwen, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Bas den Blaauwen is a leader, writer, trainer, podcaster and coach in the field of ADHD healing and management. At the age of 24, he was diagnosed with ADHD. Instead of settling for the diagnosis, he started learning about himself and ADHD. He discovered that ADHD does not have to be permanent and that medication is not always necessary. After turning his life around and coaching over 1000 clients, he founded ADHD Masters. Working with other passionate coaches who share his view; that ADHD is not a cause, but a set of symptoms that can be largely resolved by addressing the right sources.

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