Consumed by Reactivity?

Having strong feelings is one of the hallmarks of ADHD.  Whether your emotions come out in full force or are experienced internally depends on your level of impulsivity.  At the worst, reactive comments can lead to arguments or alienation; at the best, they can be an opportunity for fun and connection.  When strong reactions are kept inside, they can create an inner whirlwind. Either way, it’s important to look at your level of reactivity and gain a sense of control.

The upside
Experiencing things intensely can be positive and even exhilarating.  Consider the alternative of being flat and remote; while an extreme comparison, it’s helpful to appreciate the upside. Being highly emotional can provide energy and be an engaging way to live.

Consumed by Feelings
It’s important to be aware of your emotional state and its impact.  Since it takes a lot of energy to deal with strong reactions of any kind, you want to make sure you’re emotions are not the only thing in charge.

One way to do this, is to learn to separate your feelings from the need to act or respond immediately. At a later time you can consider possible responses, but in the moment, practice pausing and stepping back.  By detaching just a bit, you can look at the situation like an outside observer, and be in a better position to respond calmly and thoughtfully.

Learn to anticipate and plan ahead
If you know you’ll be faced with a challenging situation, you can also plan ahead.  Let’s suppose you’re invited to a party with a group of people who intimidate you.  In past encounters, you compared yourself to others and felt inferior.  You fear that these feelings will rise up  again, but this time view the situation differently, knowing that it doesn’t need to be inevitable.

You might prepare by planning some effective strategies.  Consider: creating a few conversation-starters to boost your confidence, limiting your total visit to two hours, or listing all the things you like about yourself before going.  Each time your handle a situation successfully you’ll gain confidence in your ability to take care of yourself.

 Final Thoughts

  1. Remember that a feeling usually lasts 15 minutes or less.  It will pass.
  2. Know that heightened feelings and impulsive reactions are part of ADD and learn to pause before acting.
  3. Constantly remind yourself of the big picture by stepping back; don’t let your feelings swing out of proportion.
  4. Understand that you can acknowledge your feelings yet choose to deal with them at a later time.
  5. Remember that emotions are a sign that you’re alive and kicking!