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The Right Mindset Matters for Managing ADHD

The Right Mindset Matters for Managing ADHDManaging attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) effectively isn’t just about finding good tools and techniques. Your attitude also plays a significant role in your success.

For starters, if you have a positive mindset, you’ll be more apt to learn and practice the necessary skills, according to Jennifer Koretsky, a senior certified ADHD coach and author of Odd One Out: The Maverick’s Guide to Adult ADD. “It’s very hard to make positive changes in your life when you’re stuck in a negative mindset,” she said.

Your attitude also affects how much effort you exert and what you do when setbacks strike, said Ari Tuckman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and author of Understand Your Brain, Get More Done: The ADHD Executive Functions Workbook. “A positive mindset keeps setbacks in perspective — this is one situation and one experience,” he said.

Negative thinkers, Koretsky said, have a tougher time persevering.  “Negative thinking is like a motivation crusher. It eats your energy and can make you feel like there’s no point in trying to make things better,” she said.

To be clear, a positive mindset doesn’t mean donning rose-colored glasses. Positive thinkers acknowledge that life isn’t rosy, Koretsky said. But they rise to the occasion. “Rather than being brought down when things get tough, a positive thinker sees obstacles as challenges, and mistakes as learning experiences,” she said.

A person with a positive attitude certainly gets disappointed and feels self-doubt from time to time, Koretsky said. But they’re able to get up and get back to pursuing their goals, she said.

How to Alter Your Attitude for ADHD Success

Koretsky and Tuckman offered these two suggestions for changing your mindset.

    1. Look at what’s going right.

    “I recommend that clients take a few minutes at the end of the day to think about everything that went right, everything they did right, and every success they had,” Koretsky said. Acknowledge both the small and big triumphs, she said. She gave the following examples: “I got that promotion and I’m so proud of myself” or “I got out of the house on time this morning” or “I was tempted to snap at my kids today but I remained calm.”

    2. Avoid all-or-nothing thinking.

    This sort of thinking sneaks in when you’re making sweeping statements, such as “I always forget” or “I never get that right,” according to Tuckman.

    All-or-nothing thinking squashes action. “We give up too easily or don’t even attempt something in the first place,” he said. Instead, Tuckman encouraged readers to take the middle ground. For instance, after a setback, he suggested saying something like: “Well, this time didn’t work out. Let me think about why that was. What could I do differently next time?” “Remember that there will always be a next time and that you don’t have to repeat the failures of the past,” he added.

Of course, altering your attitude doesn’t happen overnight. Still, as Koretsky said, “I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s not easy to change your attitude — especially if you’ve lived your whole life with a negative or cynical outlook. But I speak from experience when I say that it is possible!”

The Right Mindset Matters for Managing ADHD

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Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). The Right Mindset Matters for Managing ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 27 Aug 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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