When events at school have gone wrong, and students are upset with the way the day is going, I give them some advice. “Things can be hard. Life can be tough. People may try to make you feel bad about yourself. The world can really beat you up sometimes, but you need to be kind to yourself. Others can say hurtful things about you, but you need to say good things to yourself.” Positive self-talk can be a powerful tool in building a great life with Attention Deficit Disorder.
What is positive self-talk? Positive self-talk is when a person puts the best spin that they can on events. The person tries to find the positive in an event as they think about it. Here are some examples of both negative and positive self-talk:
You are traveling and make a wrong turn. Then, you make another wrong turn. You become lost in an area where civilization seems so far away. How do you respond?
*I can’t believe that I did something so stupid! How am I going to get out of this mess? I have no #&@!# idea how to get back to the highway! I always do this dumb stuff and get myself into trouble.
*Whoa, I can’t believe that this state has so much empty space! Why does it smell like the ocean in the middle of Kansas? Did you see that pelican? Is this really a salt marsh? If we turn around and retrace our steps, we’ll find our way back. What an adventure! Who knew this stuff was here?
You answer a question in class and give an incorrect answer. What runs through your head?
*That was stupid! Why did I raise my hand anyway? I can’t believe that I was that dumb; yes, I can! I am always giving wrong answers. Are people laughing at me? Are they feeling sorry for me? How could I be that stupid?
* I thought that I understood what we were studying. It’s a good thing that I was called on; now I know what I don’t understand. Mistakes are learning tools. They help me gain a better understanding of the subject.
Positive self- talk can be helpful in living your best life with Attention Deficit Disorder. This style of self-communication can be like an inoculation against the many negatives that are part of the miasma that surrounds common perceptions of ADD/ADHD. Take the negatives and see them in the lens of mirror traits. Mirror traits are what come to light with a “disorder” when you look at it from a new direction and learn to perceive the trait in a transformational way.
People with ADD often have labels applied to them, especially as children. Many of these labels can be hurtful and influence how that person feels about himself. Learn to look at them these characterizations in a reformed way. Use them in that self-talk that we all engage in. Be constructive and encouraging with yourself!
Here are some of the old destructive labels and their more positive, mirror traits:
Hyperactive—energetic, enthusiastic, vigorous, animated, spirited, active, lively, spontaneous
Inattentive—engaged, contemplative, thoughtful, engrossed, occupied, absorbed
Stubborn—persistent, determined, tenacious, strong-willed, untiring
Racing thoughts that jump from idea to idea--creative, inventive, innovative, imaginative
Lazy—conserving energy, inwardly focused, unhurried, relaxed, leisurely
Everything that happens in life is a combination of the positive and the negative. What do you focus on? Which will make living your life better, the negative or the positive? Do you let Attention Deficit Disorder define you, or do you define Attention Deficit Disorder? Attention Deficit is a disorder when its overall effect on your life is negative. When you learn strategies, like positive self-talk, to ameliorate the negative symptoms, Attention Deficit can be a difference in brain functioning. It does not need to be a disorder.
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