Emotions How ADHD Adults Can Recognize, Feel, & Manage Them

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Topic: ADHD and Emotions. Beyond suppression or puking them out on others to avoid feeling them. Learn how to recognize, feel and manage them. See the other Adult ADHD Issues. 

Facilitator: Pete Quily

Thanks to Barbara for taking notes.

November 7th 2016 Meeting Notes for the Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group


Warm Up.

What are a few lessons you’ve learned in how to recognize, feel and manage your emotions in a healthy way? Share them with the person next to you.


Why do ADDer’s often have more problems with emotions than Non-ADDers?



Cognitive distortion

Co-morbid disorders, depression, anxiety, learning disabilities

Cycle: flash anger/ guilt/shame

High reactivity

Higher frustration levels

Higher rates of (flash) anger

Misdiagnosed/ undiagnosed


More impulsivity

More sensitive

Not able to control thoughts

Passive aggressiveness

Poor life regulation/self care (eg sleep/diet/exercise )

Problem filtering

Problems regulating emotion due to brain chemistry

Social skills problems

Years of guilting and shaming contribute to low self esteem


How can you get better at recognizing your emotions at their early stages?

It’s far, far easier to deal with anger at the irritation level than the rage level.

It’s important to remember ADHD does not just effect your thinking but your emotions too. See this video and the slides of The importance of emotions in understanding and managing ADHD by ADHD researcher of researchers, Dr Russell Barkley


ADHD medications can be helpful

Do a body scan

Enlist friends to give you feedback about your behaviour

Learn about Nonviolent Communication

Make time for breaks (nonelectronic breaks) to calm your nervous system down (get off the hamster wheel), or make time for burnout.

Meditate or practice mindfulness

Notice boredom early (then get curious: what do I need to do/stop doing?)

Notice your body (mindfulness) without judging

Notice your breathing

Own your anger ( you are responsible for your emotions no one make you angry)

Own your feelings vs denying or minimizing them

Self calming

Use Journaling


How can you get better at feeling your emotions fully?

Acknowledge your normal wide range of human emotions (not just ‘fine’)

Allow yourself to feel it ( it’s OK to feel the emotion)

Develop your emotional vocabulary (eg through NVC)

Know it will pass

Label emotion without judging it

Learn more about specific emotions e.g sadness, anger, guilt ( what do other people say about it)

Learn to develop your somatic (bodily) awareness by practicing things like  Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Feldenkrais, Alexander technique, etc

Relate to the feeling as OK. Feelings are just feeling. What you do with them is your choice, the more you can accept, feel and process your feeling the healthier you will be

Use movie therapy


How can you get better at managing emotions more skillfully:

Deflect (ask questions)


Feel, wait, respond

Find balance between alonetime and socializing

Find friends that you can talk to ( and listen to)

Know when you are triggered and hyperemotional

Own your emotions. “You made me angry!” Nope. YOU are responsible for your emotions, don’t blame others, short of them physically attacking you

Practice loving kindness meditation, towards yourself first, then others

Put things in perspective

Recognize ‘triggers’ and learn techniques to respond skillfully

Remove yourself from the situation ( take a time out)

Schedule breaks so you built in calmness buffers vs work till you’re exausted and more easily triggered with less reserves of awareness and self control to deal with emotions.

Related Adult ADHD Issues Posts

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