How Do You Eat An Elephant?

In case you missed it, last week was the Succeed with ADHD Telesummit. It is hosted each year by Laurie Dupar of and This year there were 25 different guests over the course of five days, and thankfully I remembered every day to listen to the guests from that day. You can of course, still purchase access to the telesummit, but to save you a little time, I’ve summarized just a few of the interviews here. I have also included links to the individual’s website or a link to the book as a resource. I’m not getting paid for either, so be sure you come back after you go wandering off!

The interview that I found to be the most interesting was with Dr. Kari Miller of She spoke about the lack of self-efficacy that we ADHDers struggle with. (That’s a big word for our confidence in our ability to get things done.) She explained that we have 3 systems in the brain. The first is drive, and it is linked to self-esteem. The second is the threat response center, located in the amygdala. You may have heard this called the reptile brain. It controls many of the reactions we have throughout the day, without us even realizing it. To make things even more complicated, we always think of “fight or flight,” but in reality there are SIX reactions that it can toss out. 1. Fight   2. Flight 3. Freeze (deer in the headlights) 4. Flood (of emotions) and then there are 5. Fawning and 6. Fatigue. The most important thing to know about these first two systems is that for us, at least, the default setting is “ON.”

The third system of the brain is the caregiving system, also called the mammalian system. This is the system that that is responsible for releasing oxytocin, which is a heavy duty feel good neurotransmitter. The default setting here is always “OFF.” The trick is that when this system turns on, the other two shut off. She suggests that we can train our  brains to reverse those default settings. How? Well, funny you should ask…..

Focus on the wins! Even the little ones! My own coach, Marlo Higgins of actually does this as well, with a system she designed called Successboarding. When we focus on the wins, and anticipate repeating them, the brain produces dopamine – with is one of the neurotransmitters that ADHDers tend to have trouble with. If you don’t know already – it is another of the heavy hitters in “feel goods.”

You can also release oxytocin with a soothing touch. Try petting your dog, or your cat. Hug someone for a good long time. Try this, when you are feeling anxious, rub your own hands and arms lightly, like you would for someone else you are trying to soothe. This may very well release enough oxytocin to help counteract some of that anxiety.

Finally – Yoga. No I’m not kidding. There are all kinds of studies that show that yoga decreases activity in the amygdala. It also increases activity in the frontal lobe and releases serotonin. Power poses can do much the same thing. Strike your power pose and hold it for 30-60 seconds. Soon you should be feeling more confident. 

As long as we are on the subject of anxiety, Dr. Sharon Saline of was in to talk specifically about overcoming anxiety. Did you know that 47% of us are also diagnosed with anxiety disorder? I didn’t. We’ve heard about what we are doing wrong so many times that we tend to carry it around like a boulder.  The thing about anxiety, says Dr. Saline, is that it is great at amnesia. For some reason, we have a hard time remembering a similar situation in the past that we were able to overcome, and how we went about doing that. Her answer: Make a list!

Start a list on your phone, or on a piece of paper that you carry in your purse or wallet. This list is called something like – How to Fight the Anxiety Monster

Step one: Breathe    Step two: Whatever helps you calm down   Step three: Something that helps you get the language back. Then start articulating what exactly it is that you are freaking out about. Ask yourself questions about it until you get to the emotion behind it. Examine THAT. Now move forward.

Suddenly you don’t have to remember all those steps. You only have to remember, “I’m feeling anxious so I need to get out the list.” Now practice getting out that list until it gets into your muscle memory. At that point you do it automatically, and now you don’t have to remember anything at all!  

Worry a lot? That’s ok. You can use worry to get things done. Remember that it is the stress that comes with worry that is the actual problem. Learn to manage the “volume” of your worry. Try talking back to it. Pay attention to what is happening in your body. Go ahead and embrace it instead of resisting. Resisting will cause you to focus on the stress and that can make it worse. Then pay attention to something outside of you. Move your focus away from what is happening in your body onto something else.

Take small steps toward reducing anxiety. How DO you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

I had not intended for this go become so long, but I just learned so many great things! I have enough that I will continue this in the next post. First I want to leave you with this thought from Dr. Edward Hallowell. Dr Hallowell is the gentleman who wrote “Driven to Distraction.” He says he often tells his young patients,  “You’ve got this fabulous Ferrari brain. It’s downright supercharged. The problem is that you have bicycle brakes.”

We don’t need mechanics. We need brake specialists!

Links can be found again below. Not an endorsement. I just found these people really helpful for me and I hope you do too.

Until next time. Take care of yourself. Really.


Laurie Dupar’s Website or the The IACTCenter for coaches

Dr. Kari Miller’s Website or This one

Dr. Sharon Saline’s Website  and finally….

Dr. Edward Hallowell’s website and a link to “Driven to Distraction.”

Well, THIS one’s an endorsement … the lovely and talented Marlo Higgins.