The Brain Cannot Do Negatives!

ADHD & Marriage News - February 15, 2023

Quote of the Week

“You won’t be successful for very long if you try to stop yelling at work or at home.  The frustration of trying to suppress the impulse to yell while focused on not yelling will likely make you yell more.  That’s because the brain cannot do negatives; it must do something instead of what you don’t want to do.  If you practice speaking to others respectfully, with sensitivity to their individual sensibilities, you will not yell at them and are far more likely to get cooperation from them.”

-Steven Stosny, PhD

The Brain Cannot Do Negatives!

Okay, this concept is a biggie when it comes to ADHD-impacted relationships!

How many times have you said “I’ll try to stop (fill in the blank – yelling/being late/criticizing etc)?”  You try and it works for a bit, but then comes back.  The idea that our brains require us to replace a bad habit with a better one is critical to creating change that works.

This is one reason why the behavioral strategies for ADHD are so helpful.  Rather than just ‘trying harder’ to be on time, a tardy person might set alarms and reminders to enable a different approach.  Focusing on creating a habit of alarms is proactive, as well as effective.  A partner who is wishing to be less critical, must practice being more positive (i.e. the thing that replaces the negativity) to be able to employ it more easily.  Verbal cues for do-overs, gratitude and appreciation practices, and thinking about what one wishes to say ahead of time are all replacement strategies shown to help.

And, as Stosny points out, the benefit is both that you are working with your brain, and that you increase the likelihood that your partner will respond positively to you.

Where in your life might Stosny’s information about how the brain cannot do negatives help?



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MONDAY, March 13:  Session 1: Optimizing ADHD treatment; Understanding the differences between you
TUESDAY, March 21: Session 2: Interpreting ADHD symptoms; Symptom/response/response cycles & how to interrupt them; Defensiveness & anger intro 

Tues, March 28:        *Break (No live lesson)  Please put in your calendars for catch up work
Tues, April 4:             Session 3: Getting out of parent/child dynamics; The healing process; Setting boundaries
Tues, April 11:           Session 4: NEW SESSION IN 2023!  Dealing with strong emotions in ADHD-impacted relationships
Tues, April 18:           Session 5: Communication strategies that work
Tues, April 25:           Session 6: Getting away from fights and chore wars; Bonus video: Getting organized with ADHD–the emotional issues plus what works 

Tues, May 2:              Session 7: Difficult to understand behaviors:  The skinny on lying, affairs, pornography, and more
MONDAY, May 8:        Session 8: Rebuilding trust; the science of finding joy in your ADHD-impacted relationship
TUESDAY, May 16:     Session 9: Conflict intimacy; sex and desire; setting personal boundaries; next steps

- For a more detailed curriculumgo to this page.

Resources For those in relationships impacted by ADHD


ADHD Effect In-Depth Couples' Seminar - Is your relationship in trouble? My highly acclaimed 8-session Zoom seminar has helped many couples thrive in healthier, happier relationships. The next live session STARTS March 13, 2023.

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How to Optimize Treatment for Adult ADHD

Downloadable chapters of my books;

A community forum with other couples facing similar issues;

A large number of blog posts on various topics;




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