Thank goodness for second chances

You’ll have your share of naysayers when you’re neurodivergent.

When I first enrolled in the Social Work Program, I had a professor who didn’t like me. She went out of her way to try and get me to drop out of the program.

It was the early 1990’s and about a decade before I’d learn I had Asperger’s and ADHD. I was introverted and socially awkward.

I was blunt, guarded and often kept to myself. I was labeled arrogant and unapproachable by classmates.

They complained to this professor about me and I was called to her office.

To paraphrase her, I wasn’t “social” enough, I needed to change my behavior. She didn’t tell me what I was doing wrong nor what I needed to do instead.

I reached out to some of my classmates to apologize and ask what I could do differently. Some expressed surprise that I addressed the issue so directly.

Their responses were vague. They gave me general answers that referred to my style of speaking (e.g. bluntness). But didn’t offer specific examples.

Without the guidance I needed I became increasingly ostracized. I decided to leave the program as it became a toxic environment for me.

Over the next 5 years I tried various odd jobs and even a different major. Until one day it hit me. I’d only be happy doing social work.

I shared my realization with my then wife and she encouraged me to go for it. The catch was, I’d need the permission of the same professor to rejoin the program. She was the Dean of it at this point.

I’d done a lot of growing in those 5 years and the professor and I were able to clear the air about some things. She let me back in and I had a wonderful experience.

All these years later (15 and counting). I’m grateful I took a second chance and grateful I received one. Not every closed door remains closed forever.

Sometimes it means you aren’t ready. You need to take time to do some work before trying again.

When Facebook wants you to friend a childhood bully

Facebook just recommend I friend someone who literally used to torment me when we were kids.

We have FB friends in common it seems.

I felt anger at first as I looked at his face. I tried to see evidence of that kid I resented so much.

I couldn’t see him.

I didn’t know the person I was looking at now. I didn’t know his story, who he had become.

I only know what I remember.

I also remembered I’m no longer the same person. No longer the frail, insecure child so easily preyed upon.

Also not someone who wants him to suffer because of decisions he made as a kid. When he was clearly troubled.

The world is better with healed people in it. That’s what I want for him and anyone else who causes suffering as they wrestle with their gremlins.

It’s a far lighter and more peaceful existence to wish peace rather than punishment upon someone.

Especially when it comes to people from our past.

I find it difficult to nurture my own peace without wanting to include others.

Healing frees you from a desire to get even because you have to let go of the role of victim.

Does it mean you weren’t a victim at that moment, no? It means you don’t have to be one for the rest of your life.

Heal what you can.

Your present is waiting for you to take your eyes off the past long enough to meet it.

Self-care is about more than getting enough rest

Self-care isn’t simply about taking care of the parts of you that take care of everyone else. It’s about so much more. 

It’s about taking care of the “self”, who you are, what fills you up and makes you feel most alive. 

I focus on the self-care that strengthens the foundation of who I am, meaning how I show up in the world. 

I want my default setting to be consistent, deliberate and nonreactive. 

The world isn’t the enemy, it’s the mother I’m connected to and rely upon for my existence, growth and survival. 

People have a way of complicating the simple, don’t we?! 

I’m a proficient catastrophic thinker. I can thank my Neurodiversity (e.g. ADHD, anxiety) for that. I can also thank various strategies for helping me manage it. 

I don’t have talent for playing musical instruments or painting beautiful portraits. But something happens when I reflect upon the human condition and the lessons therein. Then choose to write about that experience.

I use that time in reflection increasing my capacity for self-compassion, patience, kindness, mindfulness and more.

That’s the deeper self-care that fills me up. Far more than a massage ever could, not that those aren’t awesome. But you know what I mean.

Maybe hiking through the forest or climbing a rock face helps you connect with your deeper self. Then please do it.

Bring this deeper self into your awareness so it can be a more conscious part of how you live your life.

Its more deeply connected to what you truly care about and is a far better compass than “what will others think”. 

This is a way for you to make an impact in this life.

Where do we go from here…

I grew up being bullied by classmates, teachers, and even members of my own family.

I was beat up at various times from the age of 5 through middle school. I finally fought back, decisively, and no one touched me again after that.

To some, I should’ve acted sooner. In my mind, aggression and violence lack any and all moral authority.

Our leaders do a tremendous job of wrapping it in a pretty bow of patriotism or some other unquestioned tribalistic, dogma.

What they’re really saying is that, we have the resources and strength to force others to indulge our selfishness and tough shit if they don’t like it.

That isn’t leadership, those are grade school bullies who grew up to be elected by other bullies. There, I said it.

Please don’t come at me with talk of Hitler and other historical actors who could only be stopped through fierce opposition.

That is a symptom of the broader problem I’m talking about and not an exception of what I’m talking about here.

The fact that our movies, shows, media, YouTube, etc., glorify people getting hurt, maimed, beaten and even killed in the name of “justice” or entertainment should disturb everyone.

It would be like cows sitting back and watching slaughterhouse footage to unwind.

We need a new script. Our culture needs an enema.

People who live with neurodiversity know the experience of living in a world where people are hostile toward them simply because they’re different.

A sarcastic and judgmental, “What’s wrong with you,” is not uncommon when you act a little quirky around someone unfamiliar with you.

While we’re on the subject, “sarcasm” is an aggressive way of speaking. It’s tone suggests the person you’re talking to is stupid. It’s one-upmanship.

It’s one way we compete with each other and our culture is saturated with it.

This incessant need to win, be the smartest kid in the room, be the best whatever, causes us to put each other down at every opportunity and it needs to fricking stop NOW!

Each person needs to decide for themselves how they want to shape this world.

If violence plays any role in your plan, you’re part of the problem.

There’s a lot to learn from those who have led the way to profound social change without once raising their hand against a fellow human being.

Let’s try unity, connection, compassion, community and kindness for a while. It can’t be worse than what we’ve been doing.

When you don’t know how to figure out what isn’t working…

You don’t need to have resolutions or goals because there’s a new year.
Whether you live your life guided by a desire to be, have or do anything is up to you. Regardless of what the calendar says.
Your beliefs about what’s possible for you may be informed by how much neurodiversity affects your life.
You may see failures as evidence of what you can’t do instead of as evidence of simply what doesn’t work.
When you think about how you’re living now, you may have a feeling that things aren’t working.
Though you struggle to determine what, specifically isn’t working. You know once you determine that, you decide what you’d like instead. Then, of course, you can get busy creating it.
A way to help figure out what isn’t working, is to ask yourself this.

If I want to feel better than I do now, is there anything I need to:

👉 Keep doing?
👉 Stop doing? or
👉 Start doing?

Make sure one of the things you stop doing is basing your feelings of success on other people’s happiness.

This doesn’t mean ignore the impact of your actions on others. It means that your internal celebration of a job well done.

The gratitude you feel toward yourself for showing up, for you – is enough.

Comparison, impatience and competition are habits encouraged by those who wish to exploit your insecurities.

You don’t have to drink from those wells when there’s a fountain inside you.

The fountain is the fluid experience you’re having this moment. It tells you everything about where you’re at, but not where you’ll end up.

What is undeniable, is that you must take the first step in order to get started.

Robbing stigma of its oxygen

“Telling your story of life with neurodiversity educates and robs stigma of its oxygen.”

I said something to that effect during a discussion about neurodiversity in the workplace this morning.

The question was raised about how to educate employers about differences.

I emphasized that it needs to start outside the companies, in our communities and homes.

Your unique wiring brings with it 1 of 7 billion definitions of what it means to be human.

There’s profound beauty in that. There’s wisdom in that.

Wisdom regarding how you’ve learned to navigate the human condition.

When you share your decisions, strategies, tips or processes. You’re sharing a path to progress for someone.

Your story can be a potent piece in a larger puzzle that gives a face to the value of embracing neurodiversity.

To open up corporate culture or businesses in general to the riches lying unmined in the neurodiverse community.

We need people willing to make the conversation a priority.

People committed to normalizing it.

People dedicated to destigmatizing it.

Let’s get to a point where our differences draw us to each other as readily as our similarities do.

Our sameness comforts, our differences challenge us.

You have to face a fear to get past it

I’ve been feeling crippling anxiety over the past few weeks and I couldn’t quite get to the bottom of it.
It was such a departure from my typical silver lining, be here now self.
Last night I decided to allow myself to see what I was hiding from. I told the anxiety things will be okay if I know.
The truth is, as I’ve been working diligently with a few people on two exciting new projects.
Things I haven’t done before. That are requiring me to be more trusting, to give up control and allow myself to be seen on a larger scale.
Well that led to a whopping case of imposter syndrome.
Once I was able to name it the anxiety fell away because it was seen.
Emotion that is seen is shown the way out.
I feel much more calm, clear and centered today.
As someone with neurodiversity, stepping into new levels of growth or responsibility isn’t like getting that promotion at work.
You get the news, you celebrate, you start the new job.
For ND’s some big changes can feel like you’re being shoved through the birth canal again.
My introverted side has resisted opportunities like this for years. Not anymore.
Too many people are suffering to keep playing small.

Follow your own stream when mainstream doesn’t fit

As a neurodiverse person, your very existence is a challenge to the status quo.
Many will be frightened by your differences, threatened by any disruption to their own comfort.
Some will try to help you be normal, to fit in. To please others so you’re more likely to be accepted.
Then there are those who realize there’s more than one way to be human.
That mainstream means there’s also sidestream or crossstream or splitstream.
Your path is your own and the surest way for you to make your unique difference in this world.
The key is to learn the confidence and have the support you need to be who you are.
As you explore yourstream the livestream of the mainstream can get really extreme. Know what I mean?
It’s tougher to try and do it along. So don’t do it that way. You don’t have to do it that way.
It’s easier and more safe to grow among friends committed to each other’s growth than among people fighting to protect their comfort zones. Am I right?
There are openings for my Inner Circle. Now streaming.

I’m afraid to tell you I’m confused

What will others think if I tell them I’m actually confused when they all seem to know what’s going on?

We can be hanging out together like always and suddenly I feel disoriented and nothing makes sense. It can even be a little scary.

This, or something like it, happening is a common fear of people with neurodiversity. Sometimes there are many conversations happening at once. Some folks talk fast.

Any number of things can overload your brain circuits and cause a temporary short circuit.

Sometimes my brain can keep up but sometimes it doesn’t kick in. Your brain can be like that unreliable car you have to push to get it started.

If only you knew when those times were going to be. Alas, they’re unpredictable. You may fear others discovering your vulnerability.

If you have this fear often one thing to consider is your social circle.

Nit picky, teasing, trash talking types may be less likely to express empathy and extend you grace during these moments.

People who themselves are more accepting of their own mistakes. Those who handle disappointment with flexibility instead of anger. These are the people you want around you.

There’s a reason swimmers choose water instead of oil. The environment you put yourself in to try and be your best matters.

It’s difficult to meet your needs and be at your best when hanging with people you don’t feel safe enough with to ask for what you need.

A few things to consider. Your current circle may have no idea of your struggles and may surprise you.

You could take a chance and speak up to see if they step up.

If they don’t, you take the necessary steps to bring new people into your life to add more water to your pool.

The answer should never be a life of keeping your needs to yourself because of a lack of those who understand.

When good news frightens me

When I’m presented with a positive opportunity my first response is fear.

My self-talk begins generating a list of reasons why my health won’t allow it, why I couldn’t possibly make the time for it and blahdy, blah, blah!

Yes! There’s a part of me that still feels like an imposter, is afraid to be seen and is afraid of failing with an audience.

The key is to keep that voice in the peanut gallery instead of as Chairman of the Board.

I help you step by step (as I’ve learned to do) to gain power over that voice so it’s smaller and easier to brush aside.

Part of the process is countering the fear with compassionate self-talk.

I remind myself I offer nothing more than my best at any given moment.

That I will be human throughout and make no promises beyond what I’m confident I can deliver.

I will not accept responsibility for something someone needs from me unless it is communicated directly to me. Telepathy is not a gift of mine.

Though I enjoy travel I’m not available for any guilt trips.

I will decline all efforts to compel me to feel shame.

I declare now that I am good enough and no human has the power to deem it otherwise.

Once I’m grounded and empowered in my values and my humanity, I can respond from that place instead of fear.

Let’s work on your empowering voice.