Question

Living With ADD/ADHD

How can I control my emotions if I have adult ADD?

A Answers (1)

  • ALara Honos-Webb, PhD, Psychology, answered
    If you are an adult with attention deficit disorder (ADD), use the following activity to moderate your emotional response whenever you feel your anger rising. You can also use it with overwhelming sadness or fear.

    If a troubling emotion arises, follow the thirty-second rule: give yourself permission to feel the emotion, but only for thirty seconds. You may be afraid that if you open to your emotions, you will get lost in them and lose control. This fear may be legitimate -- sometimes emotions can disrupt your life. Letting yourself experience emotions in thirty-second chunks is a valuable skill that will allow you to honor your feelings without being dominated by them. One of the main benefits of this practice is that it helps you realize that your emotions don't have to control you -- you can control your emotions.

    1. When an emotion dominates your attention, set aside thirty seconds to go deeper into it. Breathe into the feeling. See if you can imagine your breath touching the feeling. As you breathe into the feeling, imagine it becoming more intense. Remember, you are only going to do this for thirty seconds, so don't be afraid of going deeper. Imagine turning up the volume on the emotion; imagine it becoming more and more intense. Feelings are like waves: they get more intense, they crest, and then they get smaller and go away. With only ten seconds left, imagine your feeling slipping away, just like the wave after it crests. Breathe deeply and let the feeling go. Many people are surprised to find that, by using this image of a wave, they can let go of a feeling fairly easily.

    2. Try to translate the emotion into a form of guidance. For example, if you are angry, you may need to communicate your boundaries or needs more clearly. If you are sad, you may need to find support for your grief. If you are afraid, you may need to determine if what you are afraid of is a likely or unlikely possibility. If it is an unlikely possibility, try to refocus your energy. If it is a likely possibility, begin to seek resources for addressing it.

    3. If you find yourself stuck in an emotion, continue to process it either by talking it through with another person or journaling about it. If the emotion reflects difficult life events or tragic losses, spend ten minutes writing about the events and fifteen minutes writing about the remarkable gifts you must have to have survived them.
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