Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

Thinking First is Better before Reacting

Those of us with ADHD have the tendency to get upset fast and react faster. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, and trust me, I am still learning it – it is that we have to take a moment to breathe and think a bit deeper into situations. Not too deeply, but deep enough to realize that reacting, just because we are impulsive, is usually not the right thing to do and doing so will probably not help us achieve things in a positive manner. Don’t get me wrong, being impulsive can be a benefit, in the right situations, as with firefighters or police who must be quick witted and impulsive in serious situations for their very survival and the survival of others. 

Just because we are impulsive does not mean we are wrong or that our decision making is error prone. Actually, the truth is typically quite the opposite. However, being right and acting on that impulsively is not  always going to be appreciated, much less be successful. One should be thoughtful of any and all actions and reactions, what we say and how we say it. That’s not an easy order for someone with ADHD. Therefore, I make myself breathe first, take a walk or get a good night’s sleep before doing something or saying something rashly.

How many successful and self fulfilled people do you know that say and act this statement: “I will say what I want to, when I want to and if others don’t like it they can just live with it!” – Probably not too many. Usually, those who use this statement frequently, and live by it, have trouble controlling their impulses and really just don’t have another way of expressing themselves.

I have found that knowing we are acting instinctively and impulsively does help us stop, drop and roll – sleep on it first, think of all scenarios and then do what’s right, in the right manner. I do not advocate allowing ourselves to be mistreated. I simply suggest that we go about dealing with such things in a manner that is thought out and understood before simply acting or reacting. Knowing what we do and why, gives us the power to proactively try to correct such behavior – it is not always easy, nonetheless, it is possible. As you may have read in my memoir, it took me years to realize this and understand it well enough to use this awareness to my advantage. You can too.  

Here are a few tips and suggestions that I use:

  • Always breathe first and then,
  • Take a walk.
  • Sleep on it.
  • Research similar situations that others have successfully managed.
  • Talk to a trusted friend unconnected to the situation or event.

What coping skills do you use for thinking first?