Break Free of Ten Negative Patterns

sun-flower...(1)1.  Taking on someone else’s mood
2.  Keeping yourself small so that you don’t overshadow others
3.  Allowing ‘worst-case-scenario’ thoughts to take over
4.  Comparing yourself unfavorably to others
5.  Ruminating about a specific regret or embarrassment
6.  Assuming that others think poorly of you
7.  Getting into a NEVER/CAN’T/ALWAYS mindset
8.  Presuming that others have a better life or an easier time than you
9.  Automatically aiming to please without considering your own needs
10. Believing you are stuck

Negative feelings tend to fester and expand.  While the concept of choosing a positive mindset may seem simplistic, disrupting these patterns does come down to a choice:

A choice to actively release the negative feelings
A choice to value your mental health as much as your physical health
A choice to step away from patterns that hurt you
A choice of WHAT to focus on


Learn to recognize these negative patterns:  You can’t choose another way of thinking or behaving until you’re aware of what goes on inside your head. You might be surprised at how prevalent and draining these negative patterns have become.

After contact with others, begin to notice any lingering negative effects: Look for changes in your mood, sense of confidence, energy level, feeling of attractiveness, or even your outlook for the future. Also be aware of your own pessimistic thoughts and how often they occur.

Take a stand, and tell yourself, No More!  You don’t have to live with these damaging thoughts permeating your being.  As Mark Twain said, ‘Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.’  Just like flossing your teeth, it takes a daily commitment to catch and change these patterns.

Thank the problem:  While it may seem counterintuitive, it’s important to remember that we developed these patterns, in part, to protect ourselves. Sometimes low expectations prevent disappointment, or being fearful improves focus.  Thank the problem as a means of releasing it.

Let go of the negative pattern: Once you catch yourself falling into an old response or thought pattern, make it your #1 priority to release it.  Experiment with what works best. Ideas include: the mantra ‘choice,’ four deep breaths, or a pattern-interrupt like physical movement or listening to music. If you have a strong or ingrained feeling to release, find time to express your feelings in writing, talk with someone, or meditate. Working through these feelings helps to loosens them, and allows for change. Sometimes help is needed when you’re really stuck, but you can release these patterns with practice.

Use visualization: It can be useful to imagine certain types of negativity in a physical form that you can readily address.  For example, if you tend to take on other’s moods, you might picture being splattered with mud.  By using an imaginary spray hose, you can experience relief by picturing yourself washing all the mud away. Choose your own powerful visualization tool.

Chose what to focus on:  Thinking about what makes you feel inspired and connected with your life – come up with a message that will lift your spirits and pull you forward.  An example is: “I am discovering a new approach to my life that I am growing into and will allow me to be more happy and authentic.”  Remember your personal message every time you catch yourself in one of these ten harmful patterns and chose to make it your focus instead.

Best wishes in freeing yourself and developing a much happier and healthier mindset.


Consumed by Reactivity?

happy student #18People with ADD tend to feel their emotions more intensely than others, whether it’s excitement, compassion, or anger. While strong reactions and heightened emotions are not listed in the diagnostic criteria, many consider them a hallmark of ADD.

The ADD brain doesn’t function terribly efficiently in terms of inhibition, and emotions tend to come out in full force, or at least be experienced that way internally.  When strong reactions are expressed to others, it can lead to alienation, arguments or if you’re lucky, shared sentiments.  When reactivity is directed inwards, it can create a whirlwind to navigate.

The upside
Experiencing things intensely can be positive.  Consider the alternative of being flat and remote; while an extreme comparison, it’s helpful to appreciate the upside.  Being highly emotional can be an engaging way to live if you don’t allow it to take over.

Consumed by Feelings
Even pleasant feelings, like excitement, can take you away from your priorities.  In general, it takes a lot of energy to deal with strong reactions of any kind, but when they’re upsetting, it can take hours or sometimes days to get back on track.

Learn to separate your feelings from the need to act or respond immediately; at a later time you can consider possible responses. In the moment, pause and step back.  By detaching just a bit, you can look at the situation from afar, as if you’re an outside observer, and be in a better position to respond calmly.[…] Continue Reading

Fall in love with getting back on track

heart and arrow_269702When it comes to making life changes, consistently sticking to your plans is challenging.  Whether you’re trying to follow an exercise plan or cutting back on spending, there will be times of high motivation followed by serious lags. It’s tempting to give in – but consider:

“If you do not change direction, you may end up
where you are heading.”    
~Lao Tzu

When you give up, not only do you remain stuck but feelings of failure or even self-disgust can set in. We all know that the longer you flounder, the bigger the setback.  So why does it take so long to get back on track?

Consider these common reasons:

“It’s too hard!”
When you believe that a change will be near impossible or unsustainable, you’re jumping too far ahead. It’s important to choose small attainable steps and to know that you’ll get over the initial hump quickly. We forget that our perspective changes, often significantly, as we make gradual advances.  Get support, celebrate your successes, and switch your focus from catastrophic thoughts to what it will feel like to succeed! 

“I already blew it so I might as well give in.”
This type of ‘all or nothing’ thinking is common but will slow or halt your progress.  Since it’s highly unrealistic to sustain ‘all’, this perspective leads to the ‘nothing’ side of the equation far too often. Refuse to minimize your accomplishments! Would you tell a 5 year old that none of their efforts mattered, so why bother?  Obviously not, and the same goes for you. Instead, hold on to all your successes, however small, and don’t succumb to the false belief that they don’t make a difference.

[…] Continue Reading

ADHD Related Clutter or Hoarding?

IMG_0702(Originally posted in April 2013: Re-posted by request)

The other day I noticed that one of my kitchen drawers was overflowing.  There were so many potholders, oven mitts and dish towels, that every time I took something out, other items fell to the floor.  Trying to close that stuffed drawer was like engaging in a Houdini act.

When I finally broke down and pulled everything out, I was honestly perplexed.  Why on earth would I keep all these things when I had more than enough?  And why is it such a challenge for me, and millions of others, to throw things out?

In the April 2013 edition of Attention Magazine, there was an article titled, “ADHD and Hoarding”.  The author, Debbie Stanley, LPC, NCC, CPO-CD, made a distinction between hoarding and tendencies to collect, clutter, and be disorganized.  Her fundamental point was that hoarding is about strong emotional attachment to things, often developed as a coping mechanism after a traumatic period in life.  Due to the severe origin of the problem, addressing hoarding can be a slow and difficult process.

Clutter and ADHD
While some people with ADHD may fall into the category of hoarding, most do not.  Instead, the clutter often begins as a “natural response” to intellectual curiosity.  It’s common for those with ADHD to pursue many ideas and interests.  While it’s a wonderful trait, the resulting living space can end up having piles of books and magazines (half-read!), multiple incomplete projects and mounds of unsorted papers.  In addition, items are often kept out in full view to prevent the out of sight out of mind tendency.  (If something is put away, not only may it be forgotten entirely, but also finding it again may take hours.)[…] Continue Reading

Thumbs up, not down!

Thumbs up

If you believe you fall short compared to others, it’s natural to feel insecure or inadequate. But when you add in some ADD tendencies, like making careless mistakes or blurting out comments you later regret, it’s easy to understand the sense of incompetency, or even worse – the accompanying shame. As one client said, “but […]

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Hyperfocus: An Upside to ADHD


People with ADHD know that despite their reputation for being easily distracted, they can also have an uncanny ability to concentrate when truly engaged with something they enjoy.  It may not happen all the time -or at the best time (!) - but it’s still worth celebrating. The official term in the ADHD world is hyperfocus, […]

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