Pete Quily Adult ADD Coach in Vancouver BC Canada ADDCoach4U Adult ADHD Coach Pete Quily in Vancouver BC Canada Sign up for my Newsletter ADD Perspectives


I help reduce the problems and the pain of ADHD and focus on the strengths.

Since 2003.

Pete Quily Adult ADHD Coach Photo

Follow me

facebook twitter googleplus pinterest

Featured in ADDitude Magazine, CBC, Global TV, Globe And Mail and more

Adult ADHD Coaching

Who I Help

Problems I Help Solve

Results My Clients Get


Try A Free ADHD Coaching Session

Contact Pete

Free ADHD Resources

My Adult ADD Strengths Blog


Media Room

Search This Website



Topic: Impulsivity. How ADHD Adults Can Manage It

September 3rd 2013 Meeting Notes for the Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group

Return to Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group Previous Notes Page




Facilitator: Pete Quily

Thanks for Christopher Stanbury, Jean, and Trevor for taking notes.


Warm Up

1. Why are ADHD adults more impulsive than non ADDers?

2 What increases the chances of you acting / talking impulsively?

3. What reduces our chances of speaking or acting impulsively?

4. Pick an area where you have an impulsivity problem




Give two examples of how you learned to reduce your [negative] impulsivity in one or more areas of your life.

How did you learn to do it?

Split into groups of two people and discuss the above question.


1. Why are ADHD adults more impulsive than non ADDers?


Here we're talking specifically impulsivity in a negative context, with negative outcomes. Positive impulsivity can be useful. I.e., creativity is impulsivity done right, etc, but we won't focus on that here.

We are not always impulsive for the same reasons.

What makes it worse?

What will reduce the tendency to speak and act impulsively in a negative way/ impact?

Pick area where you perceive impulsivity in your life.

Take some of the ideas from here and make your own recipe for how you can create a plan to reduce your impulsivity


Sensation or stimulus seeking - stimulation

More prone to brain fatigue - have less dopamine or use it up faster

Lack of priorities, or too many priorities and difficulty prioritizing

The basic Neurobiology of ADHD (Basal ganglia, pre-frontal cortex, limbic system, neurotransmitters, etc.) predisposes us to impulsivity. Impulsivity is one of the 3 primary ADHD symptoms.

Trauma - Brain Development & Learning Conference - UBC by Dr. Adele Diamond, great conference

ADHD adults have higher rates of:

PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Past head history - i.e., concussion


Addiction self medicating in harmful way

We don't manage our energy well - you need energy to do things, focus, to be less vulnerable to distraction

We're not so good at stopping - doing whatever one is doing. A big problem with ADHD is learning to inhibit ourselves, learning to stop

Wired for new experiences - new is more interesting

Hunting for novelty, got to do it now or it won't happen

Social trauma

Many problems with ADHD are common - but we do not all have all of them.

Parts of our brain acts differently for us vs. non ADDers.

Boundary issues. Basically have trouble saying 'no' and enforcing those nos.

If we set no boundaries we will tend to do whatever we are asked to do. I.e., people pleasing, which can be endlessly draining.

Set boundaries on others, and on yourselves.

Often we just don't think about it. We don't get the 'big picture'.

ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder. ADHD kids & adults have higher rates of it. It's about resisting authority, don't like being told what to do, and not shy of being vocal about it. Repeatedly and emphatically. In a counterproductive way.

Big difference between intelligent questioning, and reactionary questioning

Many co-morbid (co-existing) conditions with ADHD i.e., depression, anxiety disorders, ocd, bipolar, personality disorders

Medication rebound

Overly strong willed determination

Many ADHD negatives can be positive in the right circumstances

Google the Hunter Farmer Theory of ADD Thomm Hartman

ADHD can be a competitive edge if managed properly.

Women are more generalists due to better multi-tasking someone claimed


2. What increases the chances of you acting / talking impulsively?


Lack of sleep is a major reason. Many ADHD adults have sleeping disorders and trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, and waking up.

Sleep deprivation can look like adhd and is gasoline on ADHD symptoms


Lack of food, we forget to eat, forget to plan to eat or cook, shop regularly

Lack of water, dehydration

Lack of relaxation brain needs some breaks to refresh it

Lack of planning

Not asking for help i.e., the John Wayne Syndrome

Independence vs. interdependence

New social / work situations, stress goes up

Irritability, we're more irritable, and have more mood swings

Under stimulating environment

Improper alcohol / drug use


Self-medicating with trouble, drama or conflict. Usually unconsciously, some ADHD adults do this to self medicate, since they boost dopamine.

Low blood sugar. Often because we forget to eat or eat whatever is the closest and easiest, which is often junk food.

Lack of exercise

Less conscious of social cues

Exercise is a stress reducer; it's the #1 non medical way to deal with ADHD

Anxiety. Adults with ADHD have higher rates of anxiety disorders and many of us have subclinical levels of anxiety

Feeling overloaded then overwhelmed

Passionate / excited about something

Problems self regulating

Less Presence

The more aware or conscious we are, the less likely we are to be impulsive

Lack of our self awareness, we need greater calm vss hypervigilant, self awareness

Social skills problems

Being afraid to intelligently & effectively question the status quo / conventional wisdom / authority

Not good at self observation

Good book. What does everyone else know that I don't. Social skills for adults with ADHD by Michelle Novotoni

3. What reduces our chances of speaking or acting impulsively?


Know when & where you're vulnerable to impulsivity

Know your problem areas then plan for them vs. being in denial or minimization about them

Find ways to become more conscious / present

Great book

What does everyone else know that I don't? Michelle Novotni

Direct versus indirect personality / culture

Adders frequently prefer direct social interaction. Often too direct for many. Not everyone does.

Also some cultures have different preferencs around that. Americans are more comfortable with direct communication, Eastern Europeans even more, Japanese prefer indirect. And even within countries, individuals preferences vary widely. So in an immigrant society, this is important to understand if you want to communicate effectively, and have good working and personal relationships

Direct: I don't like it when you shout

Indirect: I am uncomfortable when you talk loudly

If you don't know recipient's communication style, you can have a problem

Google ADHD social skills

Exercise in mindfulness

Breathe quickly for 15 seconds. How do you feel?

Breathe slowly for 45 seconds. How do you feel?

Schedule this breathing exercise for 2 minutes, x times a day- use an alarm to remind yourself to do it. Reduces your stress and increases your focus

Just noticing how you are breathing will make you less tense and impulsive

Think before you speak

Write thoughts, and especially possible to do tasks down. Carry around your cell phone for taking notes or a notepad and a pen. Highly reccommend moleskin notepads. Writing it down not only increasing remembering to do it, it reduces blurting out and interrupting people

Do not text while driving or talk while driving even hands free. It's not the hands free part, it's the distracted attention, talking on a cell phone hands or hands free increases your chance of an accident by 4 times. And adders are more likely to get traffic tickets & accidents so it maybe even higher for us.

Remove temptation

Clear the clutter

Do not take on too many tasks

Respect your dopamine - know when it is running out, and when you need to refresh it


Know your limits, experiment and measure results. I.e., how much attention do you really have for x type of task that you regularly do?

Time frame depends on individual's - sleep, dopamine, hydration, food intake, exercise etc

Mono-task sequentially for a set amount of time


Use alarms

Be properly caffeinated / medicated


4. Pick an area where you have an impulsivity problem


Get into pairs or threes. Ask your partner to pick one of their impuslivity problems and ask them

What of the above factors increases the problem?

What of the above factos might reduces the problem?

Create a plan

When and how will you remember to do it? Pick a date and time.

Discuss in pairs

Write it up




    © 2003-2018 Pete Quily