Magical Thinking is one of the signs of adult ADD frequently overlooked.
And while it doesn’t appear in the DSM V as an official symptom, as anyone living with ADD/ADHD can testify, it certainly qualifies as one that can create significant difficulty in life.
Many adults with ADHD rely on magical thinking to bring about a false sense of order and control into their otherwise chaotic day.
No, I’m not talking about Santa coming down the chimney, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy, though there are similar components: fantasy, absence of facts, irrational beliefs, wishing it to be true.
Adult ADHD magical thinking can sound like this:
- I’ll do it later; tomorrow; on vacation, etc.
- It won’t take much time.
- It’s all good.
- I’m 5 minutes away.
- I’ll remember. I don’t need to write it down.
- This will be easy.
- It will never happen again.
- I have a to-do list (5 pages long).
Calling these thoughts lies seems to be too harsh. After all, they are probably said with all good intentions.
However, intentions are only that unless there is action behind them. ADHD Coach Pete Quily refers to it as delusional optimism In some cases, superstition such as karma, bad luck or a belief that’s not based on reason will play a role in explaining why life is such a struggle. It helps to offload the shame and guilt felt because they seem to have so little control over their lives.
It makes sense that adults with ADHD infuse their thinking with magic when they are dealing with life-long organic challenges:
- Time blindness
- Distraction (Bright Shiny Object Syndrome)
- Low motivation for the mundane (boredom)
- A strong connection to the “here and now” and little with the future
3 Steps for rescuing yourself from fantasy land:
- Recognize the magical phrases that you use most often.
- Create a quick reality check to challenge your thoughts:
- What are the facts?
- What happened before?
- Why would it be different this time?
- Can I live with that outcome?
- Ask for help. Breaking old patterns is hard. Tap into your resource team (partner, parent, ADHD Coach, co-worker, therapist) to help you identify when Tinkerbell is sitting on your shoulder and reset your thinking accordingly.