Thoughts Don’t Race

A common expression when describing ADHD is that the condition causes us to have “racing” thoughts. While this expression demonstrates the feeling, it mislabels the underlying issue. Our thoughts aren’t moving faster than normal or faster than neurotypical thoughts. This explanation either functions as a misguided but innocuous cliché or feeds into the self-absorption of the “ADHD as a superpower” narrative. 

Fracturing Thoughts

Our experience with the symptom of overwhelming thinking is more accurately described as “fracturing” thoughts. This can be analyzing every possible outcome of a single issue at once, or thinking simultaneously about everything you need to do during the day, rather than bringing all your focus to bear on the task at hand. In either case, this fracturing makes us careless, excited, and quickly fatigued.

Be aware of your thoughts fracturing into branches like parallel bolts of lightning. The effort required to track each individual “thought path” causes anxiety that can escalate into panic when additional stress is introduced. Awareness is the first step to treatment and the right words help increase awareness.

Treatment Overview

The first goal of treatment is to minimize stress. The second goal of treatment is to unite your thoughts and your focus into a single mind. Each of the elephant’s legs need to be walking in the same direction. Otherwise it will trample your garden. That elephant is your mind and the garden is your life and work.

One Mind

Getting to one mind requires getting extra thoughts out of your head. Make a capture list. Write down everything that is nagging at your attention. Then you will have the peace of mind to stop worrying about it.

Next, prioritize those items by urgency and importance. 

Finally, process the items. 

  1. What’s the next step
  2. Where does it live
  3. When will it be done?

This approach will serve you in most situations. Executive Functioning, emotional issues, and other obstacles will continue to make life difficult. Those symptoms require their own treatments, which mostly go back to stress reduction. Continue to investigate the causes of your feelings and create mantras that connect with those feelings to increase your awareness.