People with ADHD tend to ruminate. Something unpleasant happens and they focus on it, imagining the worst. These negative thought can take over our minds, keeping us awake at night and preventing us from getting on with our lives. Martin Seligman has a process for Disputing Negative Thoughts, and it's as easy as A B C D E. I'd like to share it with you. The steps are:
A - Adversity
B - Beliefs
C - Consequences
D - Disputing
Do this exercise with a pen and paper, and make detailed notes for each step. Let's use a job application as an example.
A - Write down a recent Adversity that has occurred in your life, causing to ruminate. Be objective when you describe it. Resist the urge to become emotional about it.
For example - I've just heard that I didn't get a job I recently applied for. I managed to get through two rounds of interviews, but they have just informed me that the job has been awarded to someone with more experience in this particular field.
B - Record your beliefs about this situation. What are you saying to yourself in connection with the Adversity.
For example - I'll never get a decent job. Nobody wants to employ me. I must have said something stupid in the interview. I guess I just don't have what it takes.
C- Now record the consequences of your beliefs about this Adversity. Be specific, listing everything you said and did. Be aware of the emotions you are feeling and list them as well.
For example - Well I felt really low when I thought about it. I decided that there was no point applying for jobs, so I haven't been putting my resume in for other positions. I just keep looking through the available jobs and convincing myself that I won't get them.
D - Ok, now it's time to dispute those beliefs. Challenge yourself to find one truth to prove your beliefs wrong. Write it down
For example - Actually, I did get through the first round of interviews, so I must have had some qualities they need. In fact, I received some very positive feedback from their HR department. Also, the person they employed has been working in this field for 5 years, as opposed to my 2 years. Another take on this could be that it wasn't the job for me. Which means the job for me is still out there.
E- Now that you have disputed your negative beliefs, what has happened to your energy? How else could you approach this situation and turn it into a positive experience? List your new thoughts.
For example - Well I feel more hopeful now. My energy has lifted and I feel capable of getting a good job that is suited to my strengths. I reckon I can spend the afternoon applying for more jobs.
Try the ABCDE model for yourself. Remember that your thoughts are not necessarily truths. Dispute them. Turn them around.
As Mike Dooley says in his inspiring Notes from the Universe:
Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones.