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Musing on Ruminations.

I just got a write-up third hand on ADHD and negative thoughts. I'd read things like it before, but this one by Beth Main, CAC, an ADHD coach, gave me pause for thought. And an idea for a blogpost. Cuz I'm a cheap bastard like that :D

I've long had problems with getting stuck in infinite loops of negativity. Joy. There have been bunches of reasons for it over the years, but I'd never known it was actually a symptom of ADHD. Specifically, they're called ruminations, and are apparently quite a common symptom.

In the write-up, Beth gave some suggestions on how to break the rumination cycle. I thought I'd take a moment to mention a few in a personalized context and maybe add one or two of my own.

  • Journal. I do journal (when I can find my damn journal....), but obviously I also blog. A lot. When shit gets to buggin' me, I sometimes blog about it. I've tried this for many years but with recent developments this has turned into something of an actually positive process.

    Used to be I'd rant and whine and lash out passive-aggressively on my blog at the slightest indignity. Nowadays I try to keep it constructive--usually keeping things objective fact-wise and my observations & interpretations clearly subjective instead of turning to accusation. I'll use the opportunity to 1st and/or 10th step myself. So, I'll write what's bugging me as honestly as I can while keeping the focus on me, asking myself "What's my part?" and work from there. This keeps me from playing the victim while still exploring what's gotten under my skin so bad.

    It's been a mixed bag, I'd say. Old habits die hard, but it still helps to get it out there instead of locking it up in my own head. That one time I was feeling jealous and hurt and selfish about a guy I used to date turned out well, I'd say; I purposely avoided naming anyone and called myself out on some character defects. That other time I took a friend's refusal to check out Parker's videos way too personally, though, wasn't such a great example. In the original post I actually named the friend, even tagged it too. (We worked it out, so it's all good now.)

    In both cases, though, something latched on to my thoughts and I could not shake it. In both cases, my day/night turned progressively shitty as it brought me down. In both cases, writing about it helped a lot in identifying what was going on in my head.
  • Write down your concern, then write its exact opposite. This one's news to me as far as I can tell, but it seems like it'd be pretty helpful in breaking up ruminations. Beth illustrates it well:
    For example, if you're afraid this afternoon's meeting with your boss will result in a layoff, write "I'm getting a rase!". Then visualize this positive outcome.
    I think I've actually done this without realizing it. Like, I'll be beating myself up on the job for fucking up/expecting to fuck up engaging customers, and I'll stop and say "Hey, I'm awesome at this: I'm really helpful and customers really appreciate it!".

    And, ya know something, it's helped.
  • Repeat a mantra. Ya know, I really need to get into this mantra thing. I've got a couple index cards plastered to my file cabinet with all manner of mantras and the like on them. I should really write some new ones.

    Beth points out that successful mantras are "both positive and believeable". Then you repeat it over and over, much like the ruminations repeating itself over and over.

    One of my older mantras/personal affirmations came from an exercise in a class I took last fall--"I am a kind, considerate, and caring person!". In the case of personal affirmations, not only do you say them to yourself but you make conscious decisions/take conscious action that affirms it. So, when talking to a friend about her problems, I might do and say things I think a kind, considerate, and caring person would do or say, and thus become my affirmation. Oooooo--deep.

    But yeah, as for mantras, a recent one I've had good success with has been--"As long as I try my best, everything's gonna be ok". (Are my posts redundant much? Yeah, shut it.) What's effective about this one is that, for a very long time now, my sense of spirituality has boiled down to the principle that things work out--that everything's gonna be ok. (Of course, the exact phrase was an attempt to rip off Donnie Darko...but that's another post.)

    Naturally, it does a good job of countering my expectations of the worst while also giving me something to do--try my best. That's all. I try my best, things work out. Simple maths. Yay!
And now for my own addition to the list:
  • Make some calls. A common--and effective--suggestion in the program is to call your sponsor. Also, call peeps in your network. Either way it does two things fer ya.

    First, it "gets you out of your head". Apparently, rumination is a big problem for most alcoholics in and out of recovery. Imagine that.

    Second, you often end up with some kind of solution that way. Sometimes it's just a matter of hearing you say what you already knew out loud. Othertimes, someone else's experience sheds light on your own. Either way, it's breaks the cycle.

    A third, more indirect thing it does, is it helps you check in with people who care about you. They can't do a thing for ya if they don't know you need things doing.
Anyway, so I should keep this shit in mind. I've been pretty lucky as far as not getting too caught up in ruminations recently. I've had brief brushes with mostly minor negativity so far, but who knows. I'm bound to get sucked into a bad loop sooner or later, so having some tools to deal with it means I can break out and reclaim my day/night. That's always good, chyea?

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