ADHD Hyperfocus: Past, Present, and Future LOOP

ADHD Hyperfocus: Past, Present, and Future LOOP is a term I use to describe something I can see often in ADHD different thinkers.
Let me paint you an image of what this looks like.

My client will have missed the deadline of a project by a couple of days or more.
Each hour past the deadline, the anxiety rises, and their internal dialog starts to bully them with mean comments and words.
They then start to think about all the times in the past when something like this has happened.
That creates more anxiety and more bullying of themselves.
Then they toss in the thoughts of the future and how they are always going to do things like this.
Now they have more bullying going on.

At this point, the client is almost entirely unable to get any work done, because they are stuck in what I call the Past, Present, and Future Loop. The only fact in this whole thing is that a project was not completed by the due date. The anxiety that attacks after that is all internal and not helpful.

This is a form of catastrophizing that the ADHD brain can really get into. It is a type of hyper-focusing where you focus only on what has been perceived or interpreted as a failure and then toss in anything from the past that was perceived as a failure. I am sad when my clients get stuck in this loop and I am grateful that I can assist with the breakdown of that loop.

How To EXIT OFF the Past, Present, and Future Loopway:
  1. Know that it is a thing that you do. Watch for it.
  2. As soon as you notice it happening tell someone. It needs to be acknowledged through your lips and into someone else’s ears.
  3. Find the one fact in all the bullying. Share that out loud.
  4. Find one action step you can take that is focused on what started the whole loop.
  5. DO the action step, and then do the next action.
  6. Celebrate the WIN of your action steps out loud.

If you are the loved one of someone who gets stuck in these loops, help them find the words and the exit ramp, don’t get sucked into them yourself. In a recent video, I talk about this and provide an additional option if you are not able to talk with someone at that moment. My suggestion involves physical activity.

Let me walk you through what this might look like in the moment

From my example of the project that a client missed the deadline on.

  1. I heard them and repeated back what I heard (I gave them 5 min. in the loop)
  2. I told them what was happening and that we needed to get them off the loopway.
  3. The fact was that they missed the project deadline
  4. The one action step was to look at the project and explore what was first. Then we found a place to start.
  5. They did the next action steps, right on that call with me. I knew that if they didn’t, they would get right back on the loopway. A person in the loopway has to fully exit the loop and make a couple more turns in a new direction, those are action steps.
  6. I celebrated the progress before our call was up and checked in later.
Breaking Free from the Cycle: Tools and Support for Escaping the ADHD Hyperfocus Loop

The ADHD Hyperfocus Loop, where past failures fuel anxiety about the present and future, can trap even the most capable minds. But fear not! This article has equipped you with practical tools and insights to break free from this self-defeating cycle.

Remember, recognizing the loop and verbalizing it to someone are crucial first steps. By anchoring yourself in the single factual element and taking small, concrete actions, you can shift your focus toward solutions and progress.

If you’re struggling alone, don’t hesitate to reach out! Talking to a loved one or seeking professional support can provide invaluable guidance and encouragement. As highlighted in the video mentioned earlier, even physical activity can offer a temporary escape and shift your mental state.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. By equipping yourself with knowledge, practicing these strategies, and seeking support when needed, you can overcome the ADHD Hyperfocus Past, Present, Future Loop and unlock that part of your full potential.

I would love to hear your experiences with this and if you have questions.
We are all on this journey together.

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