Lara Honos-Webb Ph.D.

The Gift of ADHD

Self-Talk Solutions for ADHD

Be your own coach and cheerleader.

Posted Mar 13, 2019

Many people doubt themselves by saying, “I’m just not motivated.” But there are things you can do to increase your motivation, this is something you have control over. One of the most powerful tools for increasing motivation is positive self-talk. According to Shad Helmstetter (1986), “Self-talk is a way to override our past negative programming by erasing or replacing it with conscious, positive new directions."

One of the most effective ways to support attention and focus on tasks is to become your own coach and cheerleader. Quiet your self-criticism by imagining that you are a coach and a cheerleader whose jobs it is to encourage rather than discourage you. The coach offers you specific guidance to get better results and provides you with instructions that will get you where you want to go. If you’re looking at a pile of papers and feel overwhelmed, say to yourself, “Focus on completion” or “Take the papers in chunks of three in chronological order.” The cheerleader, meanwhile, says, “Good thinking! You got this!”

Here are a few more examples of good self-coaching and cheerleading:

  • Your cheerleader: “Keep going! You can do it.”
  • Your coach: “Compare this task to your last successful project and see which steps you can replicate here.”
  • Your cheerleader: “Stay calm. You handled a bigger project than this last week, and you did great!”
  • Your coach: “Look at everything you have to get done this week and organize it all by the due date.”
  • Your cheerleader: “You work hard and deserve to be successful!”
  • Your coach: “If there’s too much on your plate, take your list of tasks to a supervisor and see if anything can be removed or deferred to a later date.”

Turn Your Tech into a Cheerleader

Set reminders on your smartphone to flash positive messages at certain times of the day. You can include messages like “You can do it!” or set questions to pop up once a day, like “Why is this goal important to me?” Many times, the why is more important than the how. When you realize that your goals are aligned with your core desires and values, you will find the rocket fuel to sustain your motivation.

Excerpt from Brain Hacks: Life-Changing Strategies to Improve Executive Functioning.


Helmstetter (2017) What To Say When You Talk To Yourself. Gallery Books.