I was basking in the sun on a 70 degree afternoon (such a rare gift in November in southern Pennsylvania), when I looked up into the trees and noticed the balloon tangled in the highest branches. I had to sit for a few minutes and ponder why I resonated so deeply with that balloon, and I remembered that the day before, some young children had excitedly pointed it out to me as it floated joyfully through the sky over the building. It must have soared over the roof and immediately gotten stuck in the tree in the rear of building where I now sat.
Upon piecing the story together, I realize how much that balloon was like my own mind – skipping weightlessly and joyfully through life until suddenly the twisted thoughts and attitudes of my heart seem to trap me and disable me. This is one reason depression so often occurs in children and adults with ADHD – the branches of thoughts, feelings, and impulses are so tangled it becomes a confused mass that is nearly impossible to navigate. And for those who are self-aware, it is even easier to play the precarious game of comparison. “He always knows what to say to people.” “Her handwriting is so much neater than mine.” “He never loses things like I do.” “She gets so much more done every day than I do.” “He doesn’t forget instructions like me.” “She doesn’t get overwhelmed with decisions like me.”
All of these thoughts reflect what psychologists refer to as a fixed mindset. There is no room for improvement, as in a growth mindset. A growth mindset would reframe these thoughts to say something like, “I’m not as organized as her, yet,” or “I can work to improve my handwriting so my teachers can read it better.” At a surface level, there is nothing wrong with this method of reframing, however, when you think about it through a Christian lens, it falls short of God’s truth. Sure, I may be able to work to improve certain skills where growth needs to happen. I may even succeed in making long-term changes, and that is a good thing. But the focus is still on me, me, me.
So, instead of a Growth Mindset, I like to think of a God Mindset. Reframing my thoughts this way incorporates biblical truths and godly perspectives, focusing on things that are eternal rather than temporal. Is there anything wrong with being more organized? Of course not! But if I’m just trying to do it for my own benefit, the best case scenario is I succeed at creating better organizational habits and I pat myself on the back and pridefully (and wrongfully) believe I did it all by myself. Worst case, I become frustrated, irritated, depressed, and eventually throw in the towel. Either way, the dependence is on our own willpower, which we know to be utterly fallible, rather than on God who is completely dependable.
A God Mindset says, “God asks me to do all things to the best of my ability for His glory, as though I’m working for Him and not for other people. That means I need to be organized in my business so I can best serve Him and the clients He’s sent my way.” It says, “I might be a little socially awkward, but God asks me to love others the same way I love myself, and He loves them so much more than I do, so I can trust that He will equip me to love them well as He calls me to.” It says, “I don’t have the skills I need to be serve God well in stewarding my education, so I’m going to get some tutoring to help me where I’m struggling.”
Changing our mindset takes practice, but it’s actually a biblical concept. Check out Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind...” Or Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
This week, try practicing a God Mindset. Start by drawing a line vertically down the middle of a sheet of paper and on the left side, write some of the thoughts that have kept you trapped. Label this side “Enslaved Mindset.” Label the other side “God Mindset” and begin writing down how God would have you think about this topic instead.
Need more help with this concept? Ask a pastor or trusted mentor for help, or you can book a free Discovery Session with me by going to www.flourishingfamilycoaching.com/services and enter the code: ADHD in the checkout.
The content found on Flourishing Family Coaching’s website and blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding ADHD, anxiety, depression or any other medical conditions. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.