Why Can’t I Control My Emotions?
Welcome to our Series for Turbo ADHD brains (watch the movie, you’ll get the reference, but the short explanation is: slow as a snail when not important to you, and superspeed when you are interested). Coffee is what gets most of us going on a Monday morning, but it’s really the super juice for ADHD brains. SO, coffee and quick tips to learn more about the ADHD brain and how to make it work in your favor.
Emotion is a very primitive form of communication for all humans. As we get older and depending on whether our caregivers were good emotion coaches, we learn how to manage the emotions, especially the negative unpleasant ones….or at least we should. What I learned, however, is that most people never learned how to manage emotions in a healthy way, and they often rely on unhealthy behaviors to cope.
ADHD kids (and then adults) have an even more difficult time in this area due to impulsivity and living in the moment without thinking of consequences.
The main steps to learning emotional self-control are:
- Recognize the emotion
- Breakaway from the hurtful stimulus (covering eyes, turning away, moving away)
- Give yourself some space to label the emotion and process what’s going on
- Self-soothe by creating a new emotional state (count to 10, visualize a happy place, lessen the frustration, generate new emotion)
ADHD (kids) people have a difficult time with some or all of these steps:
- Can’t suppress showing emotion
- Can’t soothe themselves
- Can’t downplay
- Can’t break away
Emotional dysregulation explains:
- The secondary psychological diagnoses such as anxiety and depression
- The constant fighting with the parents (and then later on with intimate partners)
- Issues with peers or social circumstances
- Temper, anger, hostility, defiance, resistance to authority
In my experience, clinical and personal, there are 2 big areas of intervention, coaching, and support for people with ADHD: executive functioning (working memory in previous posts is part of it) and emotional regulation. Both are important!
If you would like additional ADHD support, I'd like to invite you to the West Valley ADHD Resources & Support Facebook group. In this free community, you will gain positive connections, helpful resources, and support without judgment or criticism for parents of children diagnosed with ADHD (or on the spectrum). I can't wait to connect with you further!
ABOUT: Dr. Ruxandra LeMay is a private practice psychologist in Litchfield Park, Arizona with experience in family therapy, ADHD, stress and anxiety management, and executive coaching. She is the author of My Spouse Wants More Sex Than Me: The 2-Minute Solution For a Happier Marriage. Click HERE to check out her free resources on effective communication, emotional unavailability, intimacy, and anxiety management, or join her at www.ruxandralemay.com for monthly blog posts.