When Your Brain Goes Negative

Negativity is an easy trap to fall into because negative thoughts are primarily automatic. These words or beliefs about ourselves can be damaging. However, that’s initially where your brain may go with ADHD when it turns to the negative since it is instinctual to our existence to worry about bad things that might hurt us. 

It’s easy to focus on and criticize the small percentage of things that did not go well rather than give ourselves credit for the more significant part of our lives in which we’ve succeeded. 

The negativity can come out loud and shout at you, while the positivity is a whisper lying low beneath the surface. However, our thoughts and feelings don’t always tell the truth. It’s the all-or-nothing ADHD brain. So what if there was something else?

What about moving to the positive? 

Different strategies work for other people and ADHD brains, so experiment to see what works best for you. If you approach something with a positive perspective, it doesn’t mean that the negative aspects are ignored or discounted; they’re balanced by considering possible outcomes and opportunities. When you can make this shift and keep that open mind, you can discover the possibilities.

Here are some things to try if your brain has “gone negative.” 

Embrace your strengths

Whenever you feel you are going negative, look at your talents, strengths, and values. Who are you at your core? Learn to recognize your strengths and tap into them, and find out where there are more opportunities to use them. When you do, you will have a better defense against when your brain wants to go negative. 

Playing the “what if” game

“What if my presentation goes well,” What if they are interested in what I have to say?” We often devise scenarios about what could happen in a situation and focus on what can go wrong. “What if I forget?’ “What if they don’t understand what I’m trying to say?” This is the “what if” game. Try playing the “what if” game in a different way. Make the shift in thinking about all the things that could go right. 

Get it out of your head 

Expressing these thoughts to a person in your support system can help. Find someone to listen who “gets it” and is there to support you. When you don’t have that person in front of you to process, dump it out of your head. Looking at it all together in front of you like this can help you see where you need to go next. 


When you have excess energy or negative thoughts, exercise can help you clear your mind. It’s one of the best ways to boost moods—and energy levels! You feel better about yourself and the world around you. 

Change the scene

Change it all up with a bit of sunshine. The boost in your mood will surprise you when you get a little sun. If you can’t get outside and are stuck, change your location. Getting away from your usual environment can help you think more clearly. 

Mindfulness and Meditation

There is so much research out there that shows mindfulness and meditation improves our moods and positive feelings. One easy way to begin is by pairing it with an activity you already do, like brushing your teeth or showering. Shift your attention to that activity and notice the sounds and sensations that are taking place. It’s about being in the present moment and focusing on what is before you. 

If you are curious how to “go positive,” book a complimentary get-acquainted session with one of our coaches to learn how coaching can support you. We are here to help and encourage your journey onward and upward.  

Kelly Thorell

Kelly Thorell, PCAC

ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach

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