Magnifying and Horriblizing. This distortion is typical when someone with ADHD has a project or task that is looming over them. The most common thoughts that come up around these circumstances is that the task will be boring, tedious, and/or difficult. It will go on and on and will never end. So in looking at those thought patterns, one would immediately sense that they are creating a negative state of mind that is in direct opposition to where they ultimately would want to be.
Minimizing and mood domination. The other part of this negative mind set is that it creates a pattern of waiting till the last minute to do the task, thereby rationalizing and avoiding doing what ultimately must be done. The response associated with this kind of distorted thinking is that " there is plenty of time to do it later", or that "I can only work on it when I am in the right mood, so I will do it later, when the right mood hits." Both of those thoughts lead to working on tasks the last minute, while under pressure and/ or putting it off for so long, that it never gets done. Furthermore, mood domination is a disastrous way to operate, especially since we create most of our mood states through our thought process.
Comparing oneself to others. Individuals with ADHD often need to develop coping skills to compensate for their lack of executive functioning. Therefore, they may need to use planners or set alarms to remind them to stay on task or keep them informed of where they need to be at any given moment. I will often hear a client say that their peers at school or work don't need these extra tools to function, so why should they? Or they refuse to ask for academic accommodations while at school because they do not want to appear flawed or less efficient than others. My guess is that if we really looked at very successful students and co-workers, we would find that they often have systems set up to help them stay organized and on task. At any rate, if using certain tools or accommodations helps to level the playing field, it would seem foolish not to use them.
So having identified the four most common negative thought patterns that create obstacles to achieving our goals, how do we go about changing them?