How I maximize gratitude…

I was asked again this morning (paraphrasing), “How can you be so positive and upbeat with the challenges you face each day?”
One way is by maximizing gratitude.
If something pleasant happens, I say, “Thank you.”
If I encounter difficulty (e.g. I knock something over, I bump into something), I say, “Thank you”, because it gives me an opportunity to practice patience, and self-compassion.
When I feel physically comfortable, I say, “Thank you”, because I’ll have more energy to create, helps clients, and be with family.
When I’m in too much pain to work, “I say thank you”, because I have people to help me, and a business that can withstand my absence.
I say, “Thank you before I go to sleep”, and “Thank you when I wake up”.
The lesson here is that everything is a lesson.
They show you what is working, and where work is needed.
Either way, there’s so much too be grateful for in this life.
You’ll find endless opportunities among the things you take for granted.

You don’t have to overcome to move forward

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I may give the appearance (at times), of being unstopped by my disabilities. That’s more a testament to my resourcefulness, and tenacity than anything. 
What I’ve done is carefully chosen to have an empowering relationship with them.  I refer to my diagnoses as my “teachers“. I’m in a perpetual boot camp of character building.
There’s more to this way of thinking, of course (it’s something I teach in my Inner Circle). Self-compassion, being present, better able to manage my emotions, and maintain calm.
This because I’m not at war in my thoughts about the reality of my circumstances (except on occasion).
I’ve learned to co-exist with adversity, and use it as a vehicle for increasing self-discipline.
When life gives you tons of manure, you thank it for the fertilizer, and return to tending your garden.

Why he knows what to do, and just doesn’t do it…

You explain to your child as clearly as possible what they need to do, and they still don’t do it!
You can share your best strategies with them, fountains of wisdom that never seems to get applied. What gives?

In my experience:

  • Executive function gaps (e.g. planning, getting started, memory, etc).
  • Perfectionism
  • All-or-nothing thinking
  • Risk-aversion
  • Fear of failure or success
That’s the short list.
When you’re raising a child, living with a spouse or working with a colleague diagnosed with (e.g. Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and so on). You’ll bear witness to wells of competence along with oceans of struggle.
They don’t always know why they struggle, only that they do. So they may lack the language to describe their experience, and self-advocate effectively.
I spoke with a parent this morning who’s experiencing this now and we created a plan to help his child increase his ability to think in the gray area, and develop more curiosity to buffer his fears about taking risks.
There’s more to this of course, the breadth, and depth of my education, and lived experience are a powerful combo here. It allows me to provide solutions that are personal, a fit for that person and their values.
It isn’t enough to learn tools, and strategies. You need to thoroughly understand what makes it difficult for your brain to use any of it. Are the reasons neurological, psychological, emotional, a combination?
The answer is all of the above. Like this parent, you can’t be expected to navigate this minefield alone. I have my group of experts as well, have since the beginning.
There’s a myth that parents are supposed to have immaculate perception when it comes to knowing their own “flesh, and blood”. To know their child better than anyone.
Countless parents have beaten themselves up for not having encyclopedic knowledge of how to raise a child with such unique, and complex challenges.
Most folks barely know themselves. How can they be expected to open themselves to the raw truth of their child’s experience, when they’re in so much denial about their own.
I’ve learned how to break through the resistance I described earlier. The stuff that gets in the way of you, and your child sharing their brilliance with the world.
Remember, it isn’t what you know, it’s how well you can apply it.

Comparison can make gratitude harder to find…

“Doing my best. Focusing on finding purpose, and joy in simply being alive.”
That was my answer when my friend Sara (who is over in the UK), messaged me asking how I was doing these days.
That exchange led to a zoom call. She, and I had an opportunity to talk through some of our more challenging growth experiences, and how we were navigating them.
After my frightening, and all consuming experience with pain about a week ago. I’m learning more, and more, about how much my mind is influenced by comparison.
I experience envy too often when looking at photos of folks enjoying the great outdoors. Activities I can no longer do as my condition progresses.
The more I dwell on what I had, the more I tell myself my present life is not good enough by comparison. The more I compare, the more an insatiable longing for the past preoccupies my attention, at the expense of the present.
I write this as I lie in bed, listening to the sound of a fan. Watching our cat Ruby looking out the open window. Enjoying the sun illuminating the room.
I’m lying here, allowing myself to experience the sensations, and experiences available to me in this moment.
Regardless of the things I may have lost, I have this moment. So many things to be grateful for, so many things I get to experience simply because I have the privilege of experiencing them as a human being.
As imperfect as my life is, and continues to become. The fact I get to experience “Life” itself is incredibly awe inspiring to me.
So my work is to buildup the muscle, allowing me to make the most of my ability to spot the joy in this moment, and each moment to come.

Rely on hyperfocus less, take more breaks, and get more done…

As someone living with Autism, and ADHD. My bandwidth (the amount of information I can handle, understand, and use) at any given time, is in constant flux. 
If I waited for hyperfocus (100% bandwidth available, and running smoothly for hours). I’d only accomplish what I could during hyperfocus, which shows up sporadically.
Riding the wave of hyperfocus toward greater productivity is also like draining a battery, and leaves you exhausted afterward.
The happy medium, which I’ve spent years helping my nervous system embrace. Is doing a piece of the project, and walking away so my brain can rest. Especially when some of my weaker executive functions have been utilized.
I thought of a way to organize my Discord server (home of my Inner Circle ❤️) to make it even easier to find my articles, videos, and join conversations.
Even though I have the entire plan in my head, it’s the execution that’s exhausting. Some of my EF’s are in the arena, while the rest are winded or on the bench.
I do a bit, step back, and rest. Come back, do a bit more, step back, and so on. How long I work before stepping back varies by activity, how I’m feeling, many variables. Heck, it varies by the day, time of year.
I don’t need to account for anything other than how I’m feeling right now. Because I’ve learned to listen to my body I know when to stop. This is an acquired ability I work with my members on continuously. They’re getting better, and better at it.
I may need more recovery time after hyperfocusing, because I ignore self-care (e.g. eating, rest, drinking) in favor of output. Breaks result in better balance. A better use of your energy.
It’s profoundly useful to learn more about the world between all-or-nothing, so your experiences of life are less extreme. Getting it all done in one sitting or not at all, is untenable, a recipe for anxiety, fret, and feelings of stuckness.
Having options provides you so many more opportunities for calm.
Taking things in smaller doses, bit by bit, moment by moment is key. It’s taken me years to learn how to do this.
It may not take you nearly as long with me teaching you.

Do I have permission to splash you with advice?

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Ever been swimming in a pool, you’re comfortable in the water, then someone starts splashing you in the face?
How does that work for you?
Well, being given unsolicited advice can feel much the same way.
When you choose to sit under the big water bucket, you know what’s coming, you prepare for it. Then SPLUSH! You get drenched, and feel almost as though your sins have been washed away.
Too often, advice is given without regard for whether the intended recipient is prepared to hear it.
So their feedback is heard as criticism versus support.
But there’s a simple tweak to make this exchange go better for both people involved. Ask for permission to give advice before giving it.
If they say no, honor it. If they really need to hear it, give them a minute or two to get ready to hear it in the spirit it’s intended.
Permission respects another person’s needs, and boundaries, their right to say, “No”.
Regardless of the relationship between you, and any power dynamic that exists. Caring shown through fear, impatience, and criticism discourages.
Permission, modeling and mentoring are far more effective ways to encourage, and support change.
I teach the mom’s of ND kids I work with, how to connect with their kiddos in a way that reduces the power struggles, and increases their ability to work together.
How you show up matters.

Why do some people have such a hard time saying, “Thank you”?

Something I shared with my members this morning I think would be helpful for you to know as well.
Some folks who seem ungrateful may be dealing with something deeper, than what appears as entitlement or ingratitude.
Many of us, especially those with Neurodivergence (e.g. ADHD, Autism etc.,), learn early on that the people we’re supposed to please, want us to do things without help.
“Did you try it yourself first, okay, try it again, don’t give up.”
Hear these messages often enough, and you conclude asking for help is giving up. It’s failure.
So if someone says, “Thank you,” or expresses gratitude in some way. The emotion they experience is defeat, NOT gratitude.
Saying, “Thank you”, in their mind, is openly admitting you helped them. Therefore, they’re admitting failure.
Can you imagine living with this belief, how isolating, and disempowering this is. Believing success from your efforts alone, are the only wins that count?
That’s a real cancer of the Western mindset. One that disables people with bad ideas, as much as any other disability could.
This is a belief that needs to be worked on, head on, if you expect to be free to reach your potential in this life.
The truth is, none of us travels alone in this life. We’re all in this together.

One of my members called me out during today’s call, and it was glorious

One of my members called me out during today’s call, and it was glorious.
I have a tendency to monologue and interrupt (ADHD). I’ve made improvements over the years, yet it still happens.
Well, a member spoke up, and explained how big an issue it can be during the calls.
I thanked her sincerely, why?
Because my ultimate goals socially is to be an effective communicator. I’m not looking to be right, the smartest one, most liked, and so on.
I want to connect with, and understand the person I’m with, what their needs are and what my role is (if any) in meeting them.
This member effectively let me know I wasn’t being effective, and what would help me meet her, and other members needs better.
I’m absolutely using this feedback to improve my ability to show up the way I want to for other people.
I didn’t hear anything she said as mean, rude or whatever, because it wasn’t any of those things.
It was empowered, self-advocacy which we celebrate, and practice as part membership in our community.
I suspect she knew I’d hear it well, because that’s what I model, and advocate in our community. She also had enough self-respect to speak up for herself. A work in progress for each of us.
Her actionable feedback will help me meet my needs, and hers, much better.
WIN-WIN! I love that my members help me keep growing as well.

He needed a good listening to…

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I was reminded what quality time means. I noticed my 17-year-old becoming more withdrawn, so I invited him to breakfast. It’s usually the five of us that venture out, making this a unique opportunity for both of us.
We laughed, talked, and gave each other complete attention for an hour.
There’s so much more to him than I realized. In part because I’ve missed how much his brothers talk for him, interrupt him, etc.
Chronic brain fog can blind me to the most important things it seems. My focus easily preoccupied with my day to day challenges.
Grateful a little “we” time was able to bring so much to light.
An important note. I had a list of questions I wanted answers to, questions about how he’s thinking, doing, and feeling.
But I didn’t ask them. These questions came from a place of worry, and could have come off as an interrogation. That would have put him in the position of having to comfort my worry with reassurance.
I didn’t want him taking care of me, it was important he understood there was no one more important to me than him right then.
Instead of twenty questions, I committed to listening deeply. Allowing for conversation to be organic so any subject that arose was welcome. Amazingly, my questions were answered.
Ever notice how often you answer your own questions when you’re talking with a skilled listener?
You can also get answers by being one. People show you who they are constantly. What they say, do, read, watch and so on.
It doesn’t take a debriefing to know what someone needs. Watching them live their lives speak volumes when you take the time to tune in.
Not easy when you’re riding the chronic pain train. Yet, it’s a reason to be more vigilant.
My son has a lot going for him, it’s clear he needs more opportunities to talk things out, so he can get clearer in his mind about things.
I wonder if I know anyone else who does that.
We have more opportunities to impact our children than endless lectures like the ones we were raised on.
By being present with another, in a way that clearly conveys, “I’m here with you, and only you. I care about how you think, and feel. I want to hear about your troubles, and celebrate your successes. We’re creating this moment together.”
Something like that. Here’s to more intentional moments together.

How’s your Self-compassion?

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Self-compassion doesn’t include self-deception. You aren’t trying to convince yourself everything is going to be okay with an optimistic whitewash.
Self-compassion is about comforting yourself with a full appreciation of your humanity.
We’re imperfect by design, and we are not less than because of it.
Being able to look at your decisions, and results through a lens that doesn’t create new shame for you, is what we’re looking for.
Maintaining your dignity, and self-worth through adversity, are beautiful experiences that come with practicing self-compassion.
That’s why it’s a primary focus of what I teach my clients.
How are you doing with it?