Taming Your Temper

Tame Your Temper

It is not uncommon for ADHDers to become overwhelmed. Often, when we become overwhelmed, we get angry and our temper gets the best of us. Remember, when that happens, we are flooded with adrenalin and our prefrontal cortex, the logical part of our brain, checks out. We can do and say things that are not truly a reflection of who we really are or what we really want. So, let’s talk about how to tame that temper.

Two of the great gifts of ADHD are our creativity and imagination, so let’s use them to tame our temper! Here is a wonderful strategy to help us remain cool, calm and collected when someone or something makes us angry.

STOP – – – RELAX – – – and THINK

Since anger disconnects the logic part of our brain, we must stop, or “freeze frame”, to get control. Then, we can take a 3 second pause to relax so our brain reconnects. Finally, we can think, logically, and choose what we really want to happen. It is a super power!

Here is a trick that really works. It is called “self distancing”.

When we realize that we are angry, and we stop, we can use that few seconds to pause, relax and pretend we are viewing the irritating situation from a distance, rather than actively participating in it. It’s like standing back and watching a movie. From that vantage point, we can direct our own movie, choosing what we really want to happen.

Here is a perfect example. Imagine you are at the soccer field and it is the finals. Your kid makes a score and the ref. throws a flag. You are the parent and you are furious! You are ready to lose your temper and pounce! So what do you do? First, STOP! Step back and see the movie two different ways – what would happen if you lost your temper, and what would happen if you reacted calmly and logically.

If you lose your temper, you will challenge the authority of the referee and make a scene, embarrassing both you and your child. Is that what you really want? Is winning the most important thing? Do you want to model that to your child? Do you want others to think that is who you are?

If you react calmly and logically, you may stay seated and vow to talk to your child later about how sometimes in life, things happen that may not seem fair. You can talk to your child about what you believe you can do in those situations. You might advise your child to talk to their coach to learn how to avoid a flag in the future. You might advise your child that, although sometimes life is not fair, if you always do your best and respect authority, it will turn out ok in the long run. You might point out that this is just soccer, and it will not be the end of the world if a game is lost. There is much to be learned either way. You are a good parent, and will make sure that, even if the game is lost, your child will become a better person for it.

Now, YOU get to choose how the movie will be played out. It can only take 3 seconds to stop, relax and think, but it can make a huge difference in how you and your child feel.

“Self-distancing” can really help minimize how angry and possibly aggressive we can become when someone or something aggravates us. We can actually visualize just how the scene will play out in our minds. We can become the movie director in our own lives!! How powerful it that?

The good news is, is that this technique can be learned quickly, and it can really help in the heat of the moment! It may take a bit of practice to stop relax think, but it is worth it when you know that it gives you back the choice. Remember, anger takes our choice away! Pausing gives it back!!

So, when your temper flares, Stop, relax and think. Then, create the movie – – and the life – – YOU want!