Category Archives: Emotions

Healing ADHD: Love Who You Are

Radical Acceptance Meets Executive Functions

Welcome to March.

Somehow I missed the February newsletter altogether. I’ve been very busy – especially with worrying, researching, and watching the news about the Coronavirus, doing ANYTHING else “more important” or more interesting, and otherwise procrastinating. I’ve even started a few times but didn’t manage to pull my thoughts together.

Unfortunately, most of us with ADHD have to hijack the emotional part of the brain to get started. Just a few ways that we “motivate” ourselves are Anxiety, Avoidance, Procrastination, Anger, Shame, and Self-loathing. Tamara Rosier writes more about why these are so harmful in “5 Perfectly Awful Ways to Motivate the ADHD Brain“.

“Many of us with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) have less reliable access to our prefrontal cortex (PFC) than do neurotypical people,” she says.  “Life’s details are (typically) managed in the PFC. It is a calm, rational butler, directing behavior in a Siri-toned voice: “Sir, your keys are on the table.” Or, “Madam, you must leave now if you want to arrive on time.”

“Those of us with ADHD can’t rely on our PFC butler for planning, short-term memory, working memory, decision-making, and impulse management. (Also known as Executive function) So we go to our emotional centers, in the limbic system, to remember things, make decisions, and to motivate ourselves. We use our emotions to help us to think, remember, plan, and act.

I know. I’ve been doing it myself all my life. The problem is that this DOES work. Well, Sometimes. Eventually. Maybe. But just as often, it really does NOT work, not at all. And using our emotions to fuel action comes at a very high cost to our psychological well-being. This month, ruminating over NOT writing the newsletter was just one of many tasks that I gave myself a hard time about not getting done. Honestly, I’m so tired of beating myself up.

I also know that I not alone in feeling this shame and self-loathing. Psychotherapists Sari Solden, MS, and Dr. Michelle Dougher Frank. write about coming to terms with this negative image of self in  A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Live Boldly, and Break Through Barriers. ($10.50 on Kindle, $16 in paperback)

Although their focus is on women, Solden and Frank’s ideas apply to everyone with ADHD or other neurological disorders – men, women, and children.  In an article for Psychology Today, Radical Acceptance Meets Executive Function, they advocate a shift in treating ADHD from a medical perspective to a person-centered point of view. (Link works)

They explain, that, “This approach measures the success of these woman’s lives not by the decrease in their symptoms (which is helpful) but instead by how they can continue to lead fulfilling authentic lives; the goal is not just getting over their struggles but developing a healthy relationship to them.”

Mind you, their advice to therapists includes using many coaching techniques for ADHD such as identifying individual strengths and interests as well as problem areas where their ability to cope falls apart. They recommend delegation, organizational tactics for the physical environment, as well as time management skills to address executive function difficulties. But the focus is on restoring the individual to wholeness through connection, meaningful purpose, and acceptance. As Solden and Frank remind us, “Disowning oneself is far more destructive than living with the chronic disorganization and executive functioning issues of ADHD.”

In other words, all the tricks and “hacks” for living with ADHD that we have put into place, no matter how successful we are in “getting things done,” mean little if you can’t be happy with who you are. Stop trying to “fix” yourself. That doesn’t mean stopping the strategies that are helping you, but that we need to separate, to untangle, our “brain-based challenges from our core sense of self.” This video helps explain. Helping Women (and Men)with ADHD Live Boldly

We can choose how we react to our challenges. Our guest author, Meagan from  Happy Hyper Shiny, offers us a few ideas in  ADHD Choices: Things I CAN do!

  •  “I CAN take one step at a time.  Moving forward and making the smallest step is progress towards success.
  • I can, I can, I can….
  • The point is that even though my brain doesn’t allow me to do normal things in a normal way, I can try and find a way to do them so I am successful.  My brain isn’t “normal”.  I can’t expect it to work that way.”

It’s an ongoing process. You need to separate your ADHD from yourself.  You are NOT the disorder. Your symptoms cause certain behaviors, like being late or missing deadlines, but they don’t define you. We don’t have to struggle so hard. Developing self-knowledge is the first step. Find tools for discovery in the collection of resources in Self-advocacy for ADHD: Know yourself.

Helping to define your “purpose” in life is a great way to inspire action. Partly due to our feelings of shame and inadequacy, we tend to believe that something that comes easily to us has little value. But the ADHD brain “lights up” when we are interested in something and many of our struggles fade away when positively engaged.

These 9 Questions to Ask Yourself to Help you Find Your Passion can be another starting point in learning to value your strengths rather than dwelling on areas where you struggle.

  1. “What is something that you are really good at doing? Something that comes naturally to you? Something that you do with hardly any effort or difficulty?
  2. What is one thing that when you do it, you forget about the time, about eating, about using the bathroom, or about any of your responsibilities? Meaning, you are so focused that you naturally forget about everything else.
  3. What is something that you can talk about for hours, and when you talk about it, it lights you up, gets you excited, and gives you energy?”

You can download the complete list at Follow your own

Taking good care of your body and mind is also vital. Although we tend to ignore (or overindulge) even minimal basics like food and sleep, we work best when our time is balanced and supported by good self-care. I am inspired by a meme by Liz and Mollie on Instagram that illustrates the importance of self-care. It’s composed of two Venn diagrams. The first is titled “What I thought would make me productive” with the entire circle devoted to “Hard Work“. The second diagram, “What actually does” is divided into numerous pie-shaped sections with Hard Work taking up about 1/3rd of the space while Exercise, Healthy Eating, Sleep, and Time Off fills up the rest.

Self-acceptance is a universal problem, but those of us with ADHD struggle with it again and again. With every slip-up and failure to produce, we hammer the message home. “You are NOT enough!”  Leo Babauta of Zen Habits urges us to consider ourselves as whole and wonderous beings (NO MATTER WHAT!) in You’re Not Doing Life Wrong.  

“ See how you are enough. Just as you are. Without any need for improvement. You are also a wonder, exactly enough.”

“You can go about your day, pausing every now and then to do a check: is this moment enough? Are you enough? And try answering, “Yes, absolutely and wonderfully.”

For now, I’ll try to take my own advice,

Start from enough. Better may or may not follow. Live with that for a while. Let that be enough too.”

Until next month,

Take care of yourself in this uncertain time of contagion. Don’t let fear and anxiety take over.

If your children will be home from school for any length of time, Our ADHD Kids page can help fill the time. It contains Things to read, Things to do, Things to Watch, More Reading, as well as a few Pinterest Boards for Kids. If your children get specialized accommodations, it’s important to try to maintain their routine. See “Grab that IEP! Preparing for School Closures”. To help you cope with spending so much time together, On ADHD: Parent to Parent offers down-to-earth and practical approaches that honor your child’s individuality while acknowledging the very real challenges in your family life.

Joan Jager



Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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Creative Routines to Fulfill your Goals

By Joan Jager

Once again, the New Year has come and gone without any action on my part to name any “resolutions”. My ideas for goals are still rolling around in my brain with no specific starting date, commitment, or accountability. For now, the ideas are flowing and hope sustains me. That will have to be enough.

I’m taking my own advice again this month, better late than never. I’ve also written another post full of resources for you to explore. Writing these newsletters, with long posts full of resources to explore has never been easy for me nor really very popular. But ADHD advocacy is what gets me up in the morning and collecting information, sharing, and offering support is what I do best. Turns out there’s even a name for it. Curation.

(Google definition: cu·ra·tion – /kyəˈrāSHən/ – the selection, organization, and presentation of online content, merchandise, information, etc., typically using professional or expert knowledge.)

I saw a cartoon last week with two characters talking. The first one asks, “Why do you think that 2020 will be better? The second replies, “There will be flowers.” The skeptical creature retorts, “There are always flowers. What makes this year any different? Then, looking over the other’s shoulder, he wonders, “What’s that you are doing? Our optimistic fellow simply answers, “I’m planting flowers.”

And therein lies my both my dilemma and my hope. Choosing wrong will have consequences – adding yet another failure to my already sketchy history. My coach, Jennie Friedman, recommends first imagining how the “flowers” or goals will look and feel when achieved. What will success look like? What’s in it for you? Why is it worth the effort? The stronger your picture, the more likely it is that you will be enjoying your own garden this year.

For those with ADHD, setting a goal is just one of many decisions. Making it happens requires creative thinking. Neither the importance of a task or depending on willpower works well. Because the ADHD brain works so much better when interested, goals first need to be something we can get excited about, invested in SO MUCH that you will not have to depend on “shoulds” or shame to propel action. Only then can we create a PLAN for positive and sustainable action. With this new approach, it becomes much more probable that this year there will indeed be flowers!

In the past, my best tools for success have been using small and sustainable actions to create habits and build routines that move me forward.  As Darius Foroux says in “Stop Trying to do Everything  “Success is sequential, not simultaneous.”

Things add up. You learn one skill. Then another. You finish one project. Then another. Over time, your accomplishments add up to form an impressive feat.”

Identify those “things” that are most appealing, important to your values, or necessary for the future imagined. It may be a cleaner house, better health, looking good, more money, or happier family life. Traditional guidelines for housekeeping, organizing, weight loss or planning techniques can be helpful, but many methods don’t come naturally to those of us with ADHD. Our memory fails us. We may lose track of what we were doing every time something new attracts our attention. We often fail to follow through on commitments to yourself or others. Over time, we come to lose faith in ourselves.

When the goal reflects your internal values, however, your natural strengths and talents come into play. See Self-advocacy for ADHD: Discovering your Strengths or Be the Best Version of Yourself: Explore your Strengths for more information. These not only compensate for problems from ADHD, but they also make most tasks feel almost effortless.

Your progress need not be so hard-fought. Try making small changes, usually by linking them to already established routines. Linking taking your medication with brushing your teeth is one example Taking five minutes to plan your day with your first cup of coffee is another. When you get home from work, you might bring in the mail and immediately throw away any junk mail.

Whatever your final intent, the first steps towards creating habits to add to your daily routines should be easy to implement. Actions should ideally be small enough to prevent an emotional reaction of alarm, fear or overwhelm by the task ahead. To help you get overcome those barriers and get started, ADHD coach Sue West provides us with 20 Momentum Strategies to Combat Procrastination.

Create routines to make larger changes a reality. Your reward comes as each day goes a little smoother. You begin to string a series of successes that move you towards the future you want. Small actions build new habits, and your routines provide the structure and support for areas that we struggle with.

It’s not just getting things done that matter. Many of us fail to meet such basic needs as eating, sleeping, resting your brain or controlling your emotions to keep from procrastinating, being overwhelmed, or succumbing to perfectionism.  We rush towards productivity without the self-care we need to sustain progress. I recommend 16 Steps to Better Self-esteem with ADHD by Kari Hogan yet again because it excels in providing strategies to meet your basic needs, to feel whole, and enjoy more success in your personal and public life.

For more ideas, ADDitude Magazine just put out an article by Michelle Novotni with more specific “ADHD Hacks” that can be helpful when “tweaked” to work for you.”  My 25 Rules for Life: A Practical Cure for ADHD Shame and Stagnation 

“Think of ADHD as a marathon, not a sprint”, she says. “To be a successful marathon runner, you have to conserve your energy, pick your battles, and pace yourself. You have to plan for the long haul.”
Her tips include:

  1. Celebrate Progress, Not Perfection. As long as you’re making progress toward your goals, I encourage you to consider your efforts a win. Be kind to yourself.
  2. Value the Power of Praise. Praise is a way of sharing love and building self-esteem
  3. Quiet the (Inner) Critic.

Like anyone, and especially if you are a child or adult with ADHD, we need to feel loved and accepted before we can keep our feelings under control and move forward towards our goals. This control is also known as self-regulation. Children need acceptance from their parents and adults that guide them, but so do grown men and women. Adults may need to “re-parent” the wounded part of themself – to connect with and work on accepting that inner child who bears the scars of being misunderstood and misjudged in childhood. I highly recommend Learn to Parent Yourself, an article by Sharon Martin.  “If we didn’t get age-appropriate discipline, unconditional love, models for healthy relationships, or the skills to understand and manage our emotions and behaviors, we’re likely to struggle with these issues in adulthood. Adults often think they should just innately have these social-emotional skills – but these are learned behaviors.”

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has written about the art of  Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself.

“What if we applied unconditional acceptance of who we are? Leo says. “What if we took a good look at ourselves, our body, our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, and said, “You are perfectly OK. You are perfectly good”?

“What if instead, you loved yourself, fat body and all? What if you loved yourself, laziness, and all? What if you loved yourself, all that is ugly and incompetent and mean, along with the beauty and brilliance and kindness?”

“Acceptance isn’t stagnation — you will change no matter what. You can’t avoid changing. The question is whether that change comes from a place of acceptance and love, or a place of self-dislike and dissatisfaction. I vote for unconditional love.”

Coming from a place of love and understanding, you can work within your own values and interests. The more you can put boring, mundane, or difficult duties on automatic, the less time you have to manage the most damaging aspects of ADHD. You can live and work more “in the flow”, using the way the ADHD brain is motivated, not by importance but by interest, challenge, and deadlines, and in ways that match your most treasured values in life.

Your routines provide the structure to do what you “need to do” but are not inspired by. Habits and routines help you get to what you WANT to do by handling those necessities of life that may not even be on your radar otherwise. Your routines should not look like anyone else’s. They should reflect your own values, minimum standards, and ease of following the steps to the routine.

For instance, I hated cleaning the bathroom, but having a clean sink with polished chrome was important to me. I started using the toilet paper method of cleaning the bathroom.  Now, every time I use the restroom, I grab some tissue, clean up the sink, spot clean the countertop, and polish the chrome. When I see hairs on the floor or in the tub, I scoop them up. If these areas look fine, I’ll take a minute to address the toilet, getting dust and hair off the seat and top of the tank, and clean up the floor around the toilet too. Same for the tub and floor, spot clean and wipe up hairs. By doing these small tasks throughout the day I seldom have to deep-clean the bathroom.

Now really, how many of you now believe that the toilet paper method the best way to keep the bathroom clean? But it works for me. And that is what is important. You will need to develop your own habits and rules. Ask yourself, “What the least thing that I can do that will move me towards my goals or projects?”

You may soon find that learning to plan your day becomes vital. Sara Jayne Keyser has a very simple list of 6 Steps to Survive ADHD Overwhelm.   If you have a busy work and home life, I love the Next Action List planner by Learn, Do, Become. Printable and podcast with directions. For an easier to use and less structured format, you can start with a Simple Weekly Planner from Emily Ley. Use 2 pages to make up a week – Just split the bottom sections of the second sheet for Saturday and Sunday.  You can also find a daily planning sheet among her other printables.

For those of you collecting more “hacks”, we have a number of useful articles.  46 Small Steps to Save Time from Sue West has easy tips to help you work with Executive Functioning Challenges.
ADHD coach Marla Cummins provides us with 20 Valuable Tools to Enhance your Memory. I wrote about more resources for planning and household tips in Manage your Life, House, and Home with ADHD featuring 9 resources that I have used to build routines.  A good starter article for housekeeping would be The Quick Start Guide to a Decluttered Home that Leo Babauta has generously shared.

Still, despite years of treatment and instituting numerous coping strategies, I continue to struggle to accept and value myself just as I am.

I am sure that I am not alone in this. I was recently inspired by the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I have the lyrics to a simple song, I Like You as You Are.

I Like You as You Are
Lyrics by Josie Carey | Music by Fred Rogers

I like you as you are
Exactly and precisely
I think you turned out nicely
And I like you as you are

I like you as you are
Without a doubt or question
Or even a suggestion
Cause I like you as you are

I like your disposition
Your facial composition
And with your kind permission
I’ll shout it to a star

I like you as you are
I wouldn’t want to change you
Or even rearrange you
Not by far

I like you
I like you, yes I do
I like you, Y-O-U
I like you, like you as you are

Recommended Pinterest Boards
Habits, Routines, and Systems for ADHD
House, Home, and ADHD
Basic Self-care for ADHD
Planners, Journals, and Calendars

Photo by Shelby Miller on Unsplash – Modified on

ADHD Marbles: An analogy



You’re trying to manage all the stuff that neurotypical people are able to manage but it’s just too much. The marbles keep falling out of your hands. And everybody else is giving advice like “Why don’t you just put them in your bag?”


You lack that bag because your attention and emotions are not well regulated. The ADHD brain is either engaged and active or bored and unable to proceed. Also, executive function skills like being able to plan and work towards a future goal are compromised. It is bitterly discouraging to see people around you easily managing 150 marbles while you’re struggling to carry even 50. But the fact that you can even hold on to that many is incredible. You don’t have a bag, but you’re still trying.


It’s so much better than what you’re used to so when you FIRST start using it you feel on top of the world. Then you notice that marbles are still slowly falling out and you think “What’s the point, it’s just as bad as before.” But you have to remember it’s still worth it.

The worst thing you can do is trip over your emotions because of the marbles you’ve dropped. That’s my biggest struggle. I focus on one little thing I’ve messed up. All of a sudden I come crashing down and drop all the marbles I was able to hold just minutes before.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this but as soon as I thought of the analogy, I fixated on it (Hyper-focus perhaps?) and just had to share it. Hopefully, this helps you in some way.

Maybe HOLDING ONTO ALL YOUR MARBLES CAN BE A WAY TO EXPLAIN ADHD to yourself and people who don’t understand it.


Notes from the author: Not everyone wants/needs meds, and that’s fine! The “bag with a hole” can represent whatever coping mechanism fits you best (eg therapy). In addition, to those asking if they can “steal” this, no you can’t because I’m freely giving it to you. 😉 Do with it what you will, no credit necessary.

Editor’s note: This piece has been edited for clarity and syntax.

Found on Reddit ADHD page – Original source: u/emmeline29 on 3.8 K views in ten months 238 comments



Photo by Crissy Jarvis on Unsplash

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ADHD: When your emotions get in the way. January 2019 Newsletter

Sometimes ENOUGH is better than never.Welcome,

Sorry to take so long to get back to you. It has something to do with avoiding New Years’ Resolutions because I fail at those every year, trying to decide about continuing the newsletter at all and attempting to write a few articles myself. I’m not too proud to admit that it was all a bit too much for me to handle.  Feeling a number of negative emotions while trying to write about how to deal with emotional sensitivity made me feel like I’ve just been masquerading as someone with anything useful to say at all. After a number of false starts, I’m calling Enough! Therefore, you’ll get one very late newsletter now and the second about the first week of February.


My first article is Self-Regulation: Controlling your emotions with ADHD.  It proposes that emotions are a major factor of ADHD that affects all aspects of life for those with ADHD. Unfortunately, Emotional dysregulation is often interpreted as a lack of self-control. Self-Regulation, however, is a non-judgmental and positive way to express the necessary steps to learning to control your emotions with ADHD.” The article includes a number of strategies from experts used to get control of your ADHD.  You CAN take your life where you want rather than being swept along by unchecked feelings.

Also this month, please welcome Louise Bown, ADHD coach, advocate, and author as a new writer for us.  Rollercoasters & Egg Shells: ADHD Parent and Child Relationships is a heartfelt portrait of the many ways that oversensitive emotions, the opinion of others & the need for constant reassurance affects both parent and child.  Being diagnosed and accepting this “rollercoaster of emotions” as an important aspect of ADHD helps build personal coping strategies.  Those very skills also help avoid “walking on eggshells” with their own children.


How ADHD Causes Emotional Dysregulation – ADHD amplifies emotions due to poor connections between the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and a delayed reward system. The prefrontal cortex would normally allow you to take a deep breath and process strong emotions before responding.

Recommended for your attention:

See Thomas Brown’s  NEW Understandings of ADHD: The role of emotion for an in-depth explanation of this topic. These slides from the Burnet Seminar offer some Key Takeaways. Most of them are in a less technical language that these examples. Chemistry of motivation is modulated by complex processes resulting from amygdalar integration of idiosyncratic emotion-laden memories embedded in perceptions and various cognitive networks. Also, Working memory & focusing impairments characteristic of ADHD may impair motivation by causing emotional flooding or constricted focus.


I’m glad to finally put this newsletter away.  I have technical work ahead but tomorrow is another day. I’ve got the time, interest, and I’ve moved on from a place where doing nothing feels safer than getting something done. That’s always worth celebrating!

Until next week, take care,



Joan Jager


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Photo by Ricardo Viana on Unsplash – Splattered paint – Modified on




Self-Regulation: Controlling your emotions with ADHD

 “Emotions motivate action — action to engage or action to avoid.” By Joan Jager

Emotional dysregulation, while often thought as a lack of self-control, is now recognized as a core symptom of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Self-Regulation is a non-shaming way to express the necessary steps to learning to control your emotions with ADHD.  For more than 10 years, the model of Executive Functions, or rather of delayed development of Executive Functions better explains the impact of ADHD than do the symptoms of a variable of attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

Executive functions affect the ability to control one’s actions and reactions toward a future goal. They include problems with concentration, memory, staying on task, organization, planning, prioritizing, waiting your turn, restlessness, and more. Drs. Russell Barkley and Thomas Brown now propose that emotional regulation is one of the basic Executive Functions affected by ADHD. Research indicates emotional regulation difficulties have the greatest impact on an individual with ADHD’s well-being and self-esteem (far more than the core symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention).  (Source) For this reason, researchers are pushing for emotional dysregulation to be included in the description of ADHD in the next DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.)

Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D., author of  Smart But Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD explains emotional dysregulation as a function of working memory impairments and poor connectivity between areas of the brain that modify emotions.  Being unable to recall past experiences, momentary emotions can become overpowering. Some people turn that upset against themselves while others express their feelings outwardly and react angrily, sometimes even violently. Source)

Dr. Brown notes that an individual with ADHD may:

  • be quick to get frustrated by minor annoyances
  • worry too much or too long about even small things
  • have trouble calming down when annoyed or angry
  • feel wounded or take offense at even gentle criticism
  • feel excessive urgency to get something they want immediately

Unfiltered emotions can have a positive or negative effect.  In How ADHD Triggers Intense Emotions, Dr. Brown continues, “Emotions motivate action — action to engage or action to avoid.”   Dr. William Dodson calls this the “Interest Driven Nervous System” and suggests that the ADHD brain is largely activated by “interest, challenge, novelty, urgency, or passion.” It is these properties rather than the traditional motivators of importance, long-term reward and “shoulds” that propel forward action. Happily, the feeling of being under stress can also be expressed as excitement. This can propel rather than deter action. With self-awareness, and through practicing new coping skills, you change your perception. Fear and shame, looming deadlines, and desperation do NOT have to be the only tools at your disposal. (Sources: One and Two)


 Your emotions affect everything you do. Negative emotions can delay necessary action indefinitely. As coach Lou Brown explains, “Individuals rely on emotional self-regulatory skills to enhance or subdue an emotional response and thereby protect goal attainment (as well as social relationships, health, and wellbeing).” (Source)


One may also get carried away with positive feelings, develop unwise crushes on people or get fixated on projects that divert them from normal activities. Both positive and negative emotions, when taken to the extreme, can be overwhelming and damaging. Although this article focuses on negative feelings, the excitement that propels an inordinate focus, what some call their “Super Powers,” is also difficult to break away from.  This often causes a life imbalance between work, daily chores, play, and relationships.  If you miss sleep, fail to eat, cannot pay your bills, or keep your home life and finances in order, you may be in over your head. You can get help to attend to these boring tasks and regain a healthy balance, but first, you have to overcome self-criticism that says you are a failure if you cannot do it all yourself.

Author of the book Understand Your Brain, Get More Done, Ari Tuckman, Psy.D., MBA, explains some of the consequences of these out of control thoughts and poorly thought out actions.

“Runaway emotions cause more than drama. They undermine relationships, sap motivation, and lead to regretful actions… “What might take an hour for others to calm down from, could take someone with ADHD the whole day.”

Answers to Emotion Commotion


I’ve found some favorite articles and provide a synopsis of some great tips for controlling your emotions below. For greater detail, I recommend that you read the articles in their entirety.I’ve used many of these ideas over the years with some success.  (I’m not done working on controlling my emotions as yet. Nor do I ever expect to be. I often have to change approaches when they just plain stop working for me or my circumstances change.)


ADHD and 8 Strategies you can use to Control your Emotions by ADHD Coach Marla Cummins focuses on developing an awareness of how ADHD impacts YOUR life and maintaining basic self-care. Answers to ADHD, like your symptoms, are uniquely individual. Take the time and try many approaches to find the right ones for you.

  • Practice good self-care – (lIKE REMEMBERING TO EAT AND SLEEP!) Self-care is a basic tenet for controlling all aspects of ADHD.
  • Be aware of cues that indicate your emotions are ramping up
  • Pause – Give yourself time to think before your emotions build up.
  • Question your thoughts – They may be distorted or automatic negative thoughts.
  • Treat other conditions that also affect (Depression or anxiety for instance)
  • Think ahead – What triggers you or make you feel uncomfortable? What might you do instead?
  • Remember this too shall pass – Give yourself the time you need to allow the feelings to settle down.
  • Own it – You will goof up. Explain. Apologize, Try to make it right. And try to move on…

A different plan of attack is offered by other ADHD experts interviewed by Margarita Tartakovsky in Coping with Heightened Emotions.

  • Avoid criticizing yourself.
  • Know yourself.
  • Be clear about interruptions.
  • Set boundaries
  • Exercise
  • Feel your feelings
  • Practice self-soothing techniques.
  • See your doctor about medication changes. (or explore the possibility of other conditions that may be contributing factors.)

I also like many of the 15 Good Habits Your Brain Craves (But Isn’t Getting) by Ari Tuckman,  Psy.D., MBA. These habits include:

  • Manage your stress.
  • Avoid over-committing yourself.
  • Make time for yourself.
  • Take a break.
  • Train others to talk you down.
  • Don’t take things personally that have little to do with you.
  • Separate feeling from acting.
  • Educate others about your emotional patterns.


Just knowing that your emotions are extra sensitive and can cause inordinate problems in someone with ADHD is the first step.  For me, fear, doubt, self-criticism, shame, and sometimes anger at other people or projects that also demand your attention can be paralyzing. Letting go, moving on, and even getting anything done seems impossible.  Despite years of practice, my emotions still get in the way sometimes.   I’m tired of being “Smart but Stuck.” Today I am more aware of what’s happening, treat myself with kindness, define the problems and try strategies that bring peace and forward movement. Every day is a chance to move forward.  Hope you find some help here for yourself as well.


By Joan Jager: Editor and sometimes author of ADD Also the Curator for associated Pinterest and Facebook pages.


Editor’s note: For a more technical explanation of how emotions relate to ADHD, see Thomas Brown’s  NEW Understandings of ADHD: The role of emotion. These slides from the Burnet Seminar offer some Key Takeaways. These examples give way to more accessible language for most of the presentation. “Chemistry of motivation is modulated by complex processes resulting from amygdalar integration of idiosyncratic emotion-laden memories embedded in perceptions and various cognitive networks. “Also, Working memory & focusing impairments characteristic of ADHD may impair motivation by causing emotional flooding or constricted focus.

Please see Rollercoasters and Eggshells by Lou Brown for a very personal viewpoint on emotional dysregulation and its impact on her life and her relationship with her family.

Photo by Simon Zhu on Unsplash – Person with incense – Modified on





Rollercoasters & Egg Shells: ADHD Parent and Child Relationships 

 Ruled by emotions, the opinion of others & in need constant reassurance.By Louise Brown of Thriving with ADHD about Emotional Dysregulation and Rejection Sensitivity


As a young child, I remember believing life was a wonderful adventure. To make the most of it I was always on the move: exploring, dancing, singing, or climbing. I talked a million miles an hour and asked a trillion questions. And I loved the thrill of new experiences, constantly sought stimulation and always wanted more and more.

I also remember being so completely lost in my imagination or absorbed in my latest interest, that I didn’t notice how my endless energy, over-enthusiasm, and constant chatter was affecting others. Nor did I notice when I said something inappropriate or breached someone’s personal space or privacy. Instead, my thoughts happily raced ahead of me in blissful abandonment.

I was carefree, preoccupied in a world of my own oblivious to any damage I caused or signs of possible danger.

On the flip side, I remember struggling with the frustration I felt when asked to wait or to delay gratification, and that being bored felt like ‘hell on earth.’ – A mind-numbing excruciating pain, accompanied by restless agitation.

But even worse was the debilitating pain I experienced when I was in trouble or on the receiving end of rejection, criticism or anger. This pain was crippling. It would surge through my body and flood my senses. And with it my chest would tighten, I’d get a lump in my throat and tears would well in my eyes.

I always tried so damn hard to prevent this pain but, due to my self-regulation challenges, couldn’t seem to avoid it.

As I grew older my emotional challenges intensified. I began to experience what mum called ‘high highs and low lows,’ there was no in between. And due to my extreme sensitivity, could shift between the two in the blink of an eye.

I imagine living with me must have felt like being on a rollercoaster. My family was involuntarily dragged along for the turbulent ride by my emotions. Hanging on for dear life, I experienced my ups and downs with unnerving uncertainty.

How Mum coped through my teenage years I’ll never know. Needing constant stimulation I became rebellious and argumentative – anything to escape the mundane. Yet I remained ever so fragile, in need of love and understanding, and never-ending reassurance: Ruled by my emotions and the opinion of others. – A confusing, misunderstood mix of teenage angst, on steroids.

Even when my Dad stopped coming home until I was asleep, my Mum stayed by my side, persistently trying every strategy she could think of to help me – in the hope that I would change or possibly grow out of it.

But I didn’t. And never will.

For although maturity has greatly decreased their intensity, my emotional dysregulation challenges and rejection sensitivity, along with my inhibition challenges, are here to stay. They are part of who I am: A manifestation of my genetic make-up – An expression of my ADHD traits. – And something I’ve had to accept and learn to live with.

Coming to peace with this realization, however, took time and was only possible once I found out I had ADHD. As before my diagnosis at 47, like an unfinished jigsaw, I was missing part of my puzzle, which made it impossible to really understand and accept myself. However, with all the pieces in place, this changed. For I finally had the self-awareness I required to develop the strategies I needed to maintain a sense of control.

So now it’s my son’s turn. As without his ADHD medication, my Mini Me displays the same traits I did as a child. He’s highly sensitive, emotionally reactive and prone to frustration. At lightning speed, he can flick between being blissfully happy or hurting with frustration, and his big emotions frequently overwhelm him.

As his Mum, it’s heart-breaking to watch and difficult to manage. As although his medication stabilizes the rollercoaster during the day, in the evening I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. I have to tread ever so gently, hoping he won’t break.

But that’s okay. My job is to keep him safe whilst he is young. And to do all that I can to help reduce the impact of his ADHD symptoms, thus ensuring he has a bright future. And he will, for I’ve already begun fostering in him the self-awareness and self-understanding, along with the skills and strategies, he will need to one day manage his emotional challenges independently, so he can thrive and enjoy all life has to offer.

Tips For Adults


If you’d like to work on better managing your emotional regulation challenges and rejection sensitivity, here are some tips that may help:

  • Knowledge is power: to help you develop a deep understanding of your emotional dysregulation challenges read this: Emotional Dysregulation
  • Forewarned is forearmed: the most effective way of managing the emotional challenges associated with ADHD is to pre-empt them in the first place as this enables you to put in place strategies to:
    • Mitigate or avoid your triggers altogether.
    • Reduce your triggers sensitivity. For example, medication (stimulants plus or minus antidepressants), sleep, diet, exercise, meditation, all reduce trigger sensitivity. As can planning what you could say to yourself prior to entering a potentially challenging situation so you’re better able to use speech to self (your verbal working memory) to self-soothe and maintain control.
    • Help you rein in your emotions if you find yourself triggered and experience emotional flooding. For example, planning and practicing ahead of time strategies such as deep breathing, meditation, mantras, and speech to self.
  • Bring your loved ones on board: explaining to your family why you struggle with your emotions, what makes it harder to cope and how they can communicate with you to reduce your challenges, can also greatly reduce emotional regulation challenges.


Tips for Parents


If you’re looking to foster self-regulation skills in your child with ADHD, the tips in these posts found on Thrive with ADHD may be of assistance to you:

Minimizing Meltdowns

Fostering Positive Social Interactions


Originally published as Rollercoasters and Eggshells: Emotional Dysregulation and Rejection Sensitivity by Lou Brown of Thriving with ADD, Lou is an ADHD coach, advocate and author from Australia. Follow her on Facebook.

Rollercoaster Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash – Modified on





Making Peace with ADHD: Priorities

November 2018 eNews

Dear readers,

Hope you are well this season. I especially hope that you have avoided the illnesses that have struck my own family this past month. I have been thrown off-balance for over six weeks. First I cared for my mother, then myself, my husband, and finally helped a friend. Yet I was judging myself and feeling ashamed of what I HAD NOT done when I found peace in a note about priorities that I spied in the Doctor’s office.

This month I am also inspired by two articles dealing with grief and acceptance of ADHD:

A recent article by JacIyn Paul outlines specific techniques and tools to help heal and find success with ADHD.  Our video explains ADHD in both in facts and through community metaphors. “How to (Explain) ADHD by Jessica McCabe.

View the entire newsletter here>>> 


Take care and be well,

Joan Jager


Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash – Modified on

Making Peace with ADHD: Priorities and Acceptance

November 2018 Newsletter


Dear readers,

Hope you are well this season. I especially hope that you have avoided the illnesses that have struck my own family this past month.

It’s been rough.  I was only sick for a week, but my mother and husband have both had pneumonia.  My husband spent ten days in the hospital and Mom was both hospitalized and in Rehab to regain her strength and balance for weeks longer. All I had to do is visit once a day and bring them things that they wanted, and now take them to all the follow-up Doctor visits, but that has been just about all that I can handle.

Worry, feeling alone, and changes to my schedule and routines all took their toll. I missed the coaching groups and body double sessions that keep me on track producing a newsletter each month. Fortunately, my basic habits and routines DID remain in place. The bills got paid, the laundry got done, I ate regularly if not always well, and did the dishes. I even trusted in the Doctors and nurses and managed to sleep well. THAT would NOT have happened in the years prior to my diagnosis at forty years of age. Still, I have judged myself for not handling the stress well and have been ashamed of my lack of productivity.

This month I am inspired by two articles dealing with grief and acceptance of ADHD.  In “Can you Make Peace with your Child’s Differences?,” parent coach Elaine Taylor-Klaus reminds us, “To support our “complex” kids in their growth and development, we often need to shift those images we created when they were little, changing our expectations to meet the child we have, not the child we thought we would have. Of course, that means changing our dreams for ourselves, as well.”

Coach Elaine is NOT alone in these feelings of somehow “failing” at parenting.  Her article is directed at parents, but many adults also mourn their own lost years – the failures, intermittent successes, and self-doubt caused by the disorder.

Coach Lou Brown tells her story of how understanding the many ways that undiagnosed ADHD has impacted her life has helped her deal with the grieving process in “Coming to Terms with ADHD,”  Moving forward, one small step at a time, she has developed a self-acceptance that has helped her create a better life for herself and her son.

Why is it that our quest for “normal” has left such deep scars? I believe that it may just be because in many ways ADHD is a problem with productivity.  We have moved work into a place of priority in our lives. That which we struggle with the most has become our measurement for our own self-worth.

As I was feeling bad about everything I HADN’T gotten done last month, I happened upon a note in my husband’s doctor’s office that changed my ADDitude for the better.

Doctor Craddock says:


  1. Yourself
  2. Your family
  3. Your friends
  4. Work

Perhaps I didn’t fail to meet my obligations after all. I just had others that were of higher PRIORITY.

To determine your own priorities, I like a recent post by Jaclyn Paul of the ADHD Homestead, What’s Working Lately: Small Hearts. Its subtitle is self-explanatory: Use small goals and simple tools to create good habits and achieve your dreams with Adult ADHD.  Jaclyn has a number of ideas for managing your goals by using schedules adjusted for your energy levels and previous commitments, as well through building tiny habits that lead to routines that promote growth.

Our video this month is How to (Explain) ADHD. At 7 ½-minutes, these facts from and descriptive metaphors submitted by the community are well worth your time.



Enjoy. Take care and be well,

Joan Jager



Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash – Modified on