How to Stop Avoiding Your Emotions with ADHD

I’m laying my cards on the table; today I’m going to try and sell you on feeling your uncomfortable feelings. 

Yep, really.

In episode 152 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, I’m talking about how to stop avoiding your emotions and why it’s so important to open up to them…all of them

Even the uncomfortable ones like sadness, anger, and guilt.

See? I told you it was a hard sell.

But it’s also the secret to the universe. 

Tune in now to learn:

  • How to stop avoiding your emotions and instead start feeling them. 
  • Three key reasons why this process is so important.
  • How to get started so you can step into the bigger life that’s waiting for you.

You can listen to the episode above or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:   

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.

In Episode 152: How To Stop Avoiding Your Emotions with ADHD, You Will Discover… 

  • How to stop avoiding your emotions and instead start feeling them. 
  • Three key reasons why this process is so important. 
  • How to get started so you can step into the bigger life that’s waiting for you.

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Episode #152: How to Stop Avoiding Your Emotions with ADHD (Transcript) 

I just got off a call with a client, and the conversation was focused largely on taking risks – or what the brain perceives as risks – going all-in on something, and the discomfort that is involved with this process.

Because let’s be real… going all-in on a goal or putting yourself out there and taking a chance feels scary!

We have a whole lot of thoughts about this.  

Whether it’s around a personal goal, a business opportunity, or fostering a new relationship, it doesn’t matter.

When you put yourself out there and ask somebody if they want to be your friend, or go out for coffee, or buy your product, or if they like your presentation, it feels risky to the brain.

We open ourselves up to feeling rejected – and if you’ve heard my episode on Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria back in episode 139, you know that our brains want to avoid this at all costs. Nevertheless, every day we have so many different opportunities to take these “risks” and put ourselves out there.  

Recently, I’ve been thinking not only about how uncomfortable this truly is but also about what the payoff is on the other side. I’ve been thinking about the potential for incredible growth and opportunity on the other side when you’re willing to be with those uncomfortable emotions rather than buffering them and pushing them away. 

If you listened to last week’s episode about buffering, episode 151, you know that we did a deep dive into this concept.

I tried to sell you on the idea of being with and allowing your uncomfortable emotions rather than distracting yourself with buying stuff on Amazon, mindlessly scrolling social, or procrastiworking with tasks that need to get done eventually, but don’t actually move the needle on your current goals.

In other words, rather than putting up a buffer between you and the discomfort so you don’t have to experience it. 

I know that’s a hard sell on its own.

“Hey, stop doing this thing that feels good and feel bad instead!”

Today I am diving further into this concept and talking about three key reasons why I think it’s so important to be willing to get uncomfortable. I hope by the end you’ll not only be sold on the idea but ready to take action.  

Let’s First Look at Your Goals – Something You Want To Do (But Feels Uncomfortable)

I want to start by inviting you to think about something in your life that you want to do but haven’t done it yet because it feels a bit too uncomfortable.

Some Examples:

  • Asking your boss to take lead on your team for the next project.
  • Making the first offer in your business.
  • Submitting an article for consideration at the top journal in your field.
  • Signing up for a course or a coaching program.
  • Maybe you met another parent at your kid’s soccer practice, and you want to call her up and see if she’d like to meet for coffee or take a painting class sometime.  

It doesn’t matter what the thing is specifically.

Instead, I want you to think about that one thing that has you thinking, “wouldn’t it be cool if I…” but then fear, worry, uncertainty or doubt keeps you from taking the steps to making that cool thing happen.  

Do you have the thing in your mind? Awesome. 

Here’s the deal…

Every single thing that you want to do in your life that’s new or exciting or the next step forward on your journey is on the other side of your comfort zone.

It is when you are willing to get uncomfortable – when you’re willing to step outside of that comfort zone – that you create remarkable opportunities for growth and expansion.

Just think about it.

Think about any of the past experiences you’ve had. I can’t imagine a time that any of us have ever done something new or adventurous or outside of our usual comfort zone, that didn’t require some level of discomfort to make it happen.  

For example, you probably had to feel some level of nervousness in the following situations…

  • Before asking someone out on a first date.
  • Before your first job interview, you probably felt that flutter of anxiety in your body.
  • If you’ve ever spoken at an event, whether it’s a conference or school board meeting, you probably felt some flavor of fear or uncertainty the first time you did it.
  • When you decided to bravely ask your partner for help with things around the house
  • Asking your colleague to help finish up the slide deck
  • Asking your friend to get the birthday decorations for your daughter’s party

You probably had to feel some level of vulnerability with similar situations.

With each area of growth comes some level of discomfort. And when you’re willing to be with that discomfort and allow your emotions rather than distracting or numbing with buffers, that is when your life truly transforms.

That is when you start living into that version of yourself that’s patiently waiting for you to say “yes! I’m ready. Let’s go.” 

Now I mentioned that there are three different reasons I want to explore today to help further explain why it’s so impactful to learn how to feel your feelings.

3 Reasons To Stop Avoiding Your Emotions & Get Comfortable with them Instead

I’ll start on what some might consider the “smaller-scale” with the less intense emotions. Though I don’t really like these descriptions because all of it is so subjective. But for lack of a better description, we’ll use “smaller scale.” I like to think of these as the kind of annoying, irritating emotions we often feel in situations like sticking with a habit.  

1. you Can stick with habits and routines you want to keep

Let’s say you’ve been sticking with your bedtime routine or meditation habit, or you’ve followed the schedule you created for nearly two weeks.

If you’re anything like me, after about a week or two, the novelty of the habit has worn off – it’s no longer shiny and exciting – and it takes a bit more energy from me to stick with it.

Part of me genuinely wants to stick with it – the executive part of my brain wants to stick with it – but the toddler part of my brain is fed up. And it’s throwing a tantrum and wants nothing to do with that habit. 

So maybe I think about going to bed when my alarm goes off, and as my brain thinks, ugh – I’m so sick of this. I just want to enjoy the evening a little longer.” I might feel a sense of annoyance.

Or if it’s time for me to start my meditation and I’m thinking, I have too much to do right now. I’ll do it later, maybe I feel a sense of urgency or restlessness.

Or if I’m looking at my schedule and see the next thing to do reads “write this week’s social media posts,” and I have zero interest in doing this, I might feel dread.  

If we’re not aware of what’s happening and we just live at the effect of our toddler brain, we might give in to the urge to buffer rather than sticking with the habit.

Why? Because buffering is so much more enjoyable than allowing the feelings of annoyance, urgency, or dread be in our body. Feeling those emotions isn’t a super fun pastime, and the brain will want to skip it. It will likely prefer scrolling social to feeling annoyed as you get off the couch and go to bed.

I will prefer procrastiworking and feeling busy rather than slowing down and meditating. I will prefer getting a snack even though you’re not hungry rather than sitting with your schedule feeling the dread as you write the social posts.  

Of course, the brain would rather do these more pleasurable things.

It makes sense in the short term. But giving in to the buffers – even though they feel better in the moment – results in a net negative on the other side.

  • You stay up late and don’t get enough sleep so you’re groggy and cranky the next day. This then taxes your executive functions further and makes it even harder to stick with your sleep routine the next night.
  • Maybe you rush right past the meditation reminder and you don’t slow down to practice. So you feel untethered and unfocused throughout the afternoon.
  • You skipped writing the social media posts and now you’re likely feeling overwhelmed because you’re telling yourself your behind.

In turn, this overwhelm likely compounds and makes your brain want to seek out another distraction rather than deal with the overwhelm.

Sound familiar? 

When you’re willing to be with the discomfort, however, that’s where the magic happens.

When you’re willing to allow the urge to buffer without acting on it, and instead you be with the emotions of restlessness as you begin meditation or annoyance as you go to bed on time, you teach your brain you CAN handle it.

You can allow the emotion AND get the POSITIVE impact of sticking with and reinforcing the habit you want to keep. You gather further evidence for your brain that you are a person who sticks with things, and you build your emotional resilience along the way. You show your brain you’re totally capable and you make it happen.  

2. You’ll Feel Enabled to go after “scary” goals

So what about the “bigger” emotions that often accompany setting and pursuing a big goal?

How do these come into play?

Maybe you are going back to school. Or perhaps you’ve decided to start a business. Maybe you are making the first offer in that business.

Maybe you’re thinking about working with a coach for the first time period.

Maybe you want to quit your job. or submit your manuscript to your editor for the first time.

These goals likely bring up even bigger emotions within your body. Going after these goals likely demands a little bit more from you than regularly going to bed on time.

I’m not saying that one is more important than the other. I’m just saying that for many people when we set these bigger goals, they tend to inspire more thoughts that generate stronger emotional reactions in our bodies

  • Maybe you feel a sense of anxiousness when you think about going back to school for the first time in 20 years.
  • You might you feel doubt when you think about launching your own business. Perhaps you feel fear thinking that nobody will buy your product.
  • Did you feel vulnerable as you told someone “I love you” for the first time?

If you feel these types of emotions in situations like this, it makes sense. These are completely common valid emotions and thoughts for a human brain. Nothing has gone wrong. 

Here’s the deal. When you are willing to allow for those uncomfortable emotions in your body, you also open up the opportunity for exponentially rewarding and enjoyable emotions on the other side.

When you open up and experience that feeling of fear as you make your first offer, thinking to yourself, “they might hate it!” You also open the door to experiencing a greater sense of confidence as you can easily step into the belief, “I can totally do this. I’m a person who can make an offer. I’m a person who can do the scary thing.”

When you open up to the feeling of vulnerability as you tell someone special in your life that you love them. Or if you share with someone safe an experience that you haven’t told many people about before.

When you open up to that vulnerability, you also open up the door for a deeper, truer sense of connection with that person. 

Because you were willing to allow the discomfort and step outside of the norm for you. Because you are willing to challenge your brain a bit, the opportunity for reward on the other side is even greater.

  • You have that chance for a published book.
  • For genuinely helping someone with the product you offer.
  • For a thriving business that provides for your family.
  • For a deeper connection than you’ve experienced before.

If you’re not willing to experience that stronger uncomfortable emotion, you close yourself down to an equally powerful and expansive positive experience as well. 

This brings me to an important point I really want to highlight…

The truth is this. It’s going to be uncomfortable either way.

Yes, you may feel that sense of doubt when you first launch your business. In fact, speaking from personal experience and working with many other entrepreneurs, you are almost bound to feel a sense of doubt at some point.

The brain is wired to have thoughts that cause this emotion as a protective measure.  

However, what’s also true is that if you don’t go after the business, or if you spin in indecision for years and never take that first step, you’ll also feel discomfort.

It may not be that feeling of doubt, but instead, it might be a sense of disappointment or regret.

When I pause and really reflect on this truth, I love to ask myself: “if I’m going to feel uncomfortable either way, why not choose the discomfort that directs me toward my big dreams rather than keeping me in stasis?” 

“If I’m going to feel uncomfortable either way, why not choose the discomfort that directs me toward my big dreams?” 

3. When You Lean Into Allowing Emotion, You Open Yourself Up to a Greater Emotional Life

This brings me to my third and final reason that I want to share with you today in terms of why I think it’s worth it to allow for these uncomfortable emotions rather than buffering them away.

When you lean into allowing for the emotion, you open yourself up to a greater emotional life overall.

When you are willing to feel the uncomfortable emotions fully, you also open yourself up and expand your capacity to experience greater “positive” emotions as well. When you are willing to feel emotions of sadness, anger, grief, loneliness, fear, and vulnerability. You open yourself up to experience the powerful emotions of joy, love, delight, excitement, and compassion. 

I like to think of a pendulum.

When you pull back the pendulum and let it go it swings back and forth, right? When you pull back the pendulum only slightly, it sways back and forth slightly. When you pull back the pendulum to 90 degrees and let it go, it swings much more broadly it has a much greater distance to travel.

I think about expanding ourselves to emotions in a similar way.

When we play it small the pendulum stays small. Maybe our emotions rock back and forth between feeling fine and feeling blah. Some days are fine, some days are blah. And we rock back and forth between the two.

The more comfortable you grow with pulling the pendulum back a bit further, you start experiencing a broader range of emotions. Rather than just swinging from fine to blah, maybe you open up to feeling cheerful and feeling melancholy. Or feeling delighted and feeling worried.

When we are willing to open up to greater levels of discomfort, we also open up to greater amounts of joy and love and vibrancy. 

I can’t remember if I’ve talked about this on a podcast or if I shared it in we’re busy being awesome, but I know for myself I used to have a very small pendulum range. I would barely pull it back and it seems like I stayed safe between fine and blah in most areas of my life. 

I say most because when I was in grad school and then working as a professor, I had opened myself up to the bigger emotions. I felt a lot of fear and uncertainty, and anxiety as I finished my dissertation and got my tenure track position, and published my work.

I also experienced a sense of accomplishment on the other side, but outside of academia, I played it very small.

I didn’t open up to a lot of friendships or new experiences. I stuck with what I knew. And my emotional spectrum was quite short. I didn’t feel a whole lot of emotion one way or another. 

Most of us are not taught how to allow and process emotions in our bodies

This is not something that’s taught in school. In fact, this is something that I do a lot with my clients. We learn how to actually open up and allow for emotions. 

When I allowed myself to be with the discomfort, that’s when my life really began expanding.

That’s when I…

  • Started my coaching certification
  • Launched my podcast and sharing my ideas
  • Built my business
  • Left my tenure track position and went full-time as a coach
  • Made deeper connections with incredibly important people in my life

It was my willingness to be with and process these uncomfortable emotions that truly shifted everything.

It opened the doors wide enough for this magical, rich and deep experience of life. That’s when I leaned into the full spectrum of emotions – allowing myself to feel all of it.

Now, do I still feel afraid, vulnerable, anxious, sad, etc? You bet.

I feel them deeply. But I also experience so much more joy, love, connection, and fulfillment as well. And for me that bigger pendulum is everything. It’s that full spectrum of life rather than just a narrow slice.  

Just Keep This in Mind

As I say this, I also want to stress that I’m not saying you must live at the extreme edges of these emotions all of the time.

Instead, what I am saying is that it’s powerful to build up the capacity to be with the full spectrum of emotions.

When you know you can be with and experience any emotion that comes your way, nothing can hold you back.

When you know that you can be with and process the fear of starting your business or going back to school or growing your family – when you know you can handle it and come out on the other side, that’s everything.

Plus, it allows you to open up to the greater feelings of intense accomplishment, success, and love as well.  

The process of learning how to be with these emotions begins with the exact four steps that we explored in last week’s episode when we talked about buffering.

Notice Your Emotions

If you are in the process of learning how to notice, identify and allow these emotions to be in your body, I’d recommend beginning with some of the more familiar emotions that you might experience when you’ve created a schedule and you don’t want to stick with it. Or you’re feeling bored doing that task for work, and you want to escape the boredom rather than allowing it by scrolling your phone. 

When this happens, notice it.

  • Name the emotion.
  • How does it feel in your body?
  • Is there a tightness in your chest?
  • Is there a restlessness in your legs?
  • Is there a sinking feeling from your shoulders?
  • What is that physical sensation in your body that feels so uncomfortable?
  • And are you willing to be with it for two minutes?
  • Are you willing to get curious about how it feels and allow it to be there without pushing it away?

Then once you get more comfortable with allowing these emotions rather than putting up a buffer and keeping them at bay, you can pull back that pendulum a little further and start expanding your emotional capacity in a way that feels safe and supportive for you.

And by safe and supportive, I mean that your body may be uncomfortable having to sit with the boredom or the vulnerability of telling someone how you feel or having a difficult conversation, but you also know intellectually that you’re safe. You’re not putting yourself in harm’s way.

This is your brain having thoughts about a situation. When you’re willing to open up to that, you again start expanding your emotional capacity and stepping into this bigger life that you know is waiting for you.

How To Stop Avoiding Emotions: Next Steps

If you want to take this work even further, allowing for, processing, and being with our emotions is something I explore on an even deeper level with my clients. To learn more, I invite you to head to imbusybeingawesome.com/group and add your name to the waitlist.

I know emotions and the idea of feeling your feelings seems like the farthest thing from productivity and reaching your goals, but I’m telling you, it’s everything.

When you can be with the discomfort as you intentionally choose the path that brings you toward the greater growth you want, your life will completely transform.

If you’re ready to take the concepts you’ve learned and apply them to your life, if you’re ready to learn how to support your ADHD in a way that works for YOU within a small, supportive community in We’re Busy Being Awesome, then I invite you to learn more about my group coaching – We’re Busy Being Awesome.


Want To Join Our Group Coaching Program?!

I will be opening the doors for the next cohort of We’re Busy Being Awesome in a couple of weeks!

Add your name to the waitlist so you’ll be the first to know about program dates and times, plus how you can sign up if it’s a great fit for you.


Also,  if you know someone who would benefit from this message today, would you be a rockstar and share this episode with them? Each time you do, you help me get these tools to even more people, and I really appreciate it.

Until next time, keep being awesome. I’ll talk with you soon.

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