Following through when you have a neurodivergent mind…

Following through on your goals can feel like wading through concrete in a windstorm. Especially when you have executive functioning gaps, with a thick side serving of self-sabotage sauce.
 
I can get the best advice in the world, and do nothing with it. Not because I’m not motivated. But because my brain is ill-equipped to create the map.
 
One of the primary ways I use to help make sure I do the work, to create the results I want, is through accountability.
 
Having someone help me create the plan, establish deadlines, and give feedback throughout the process is absolutely necessary for me. Otherwise my hours would end up going toward a Master’s in Social Media Scrolling.
 
I find the same is true for my clients with ADHD, Autism and other styles of Neurodivergence.
 
We can talk for an hour and agree on action steps that never happen. It’s what happens after the call, applying what was discussed, where the most support is needed.
 
That’s where the inertia, the sabotage, and gaps slam the brakes on your progress. Unless someone is there to hold your feet to the fire, and hold your hand during more vulnerable moments.
 
Using programs like Voxer, is like having me on-call 24/7, so you don’t feel alone in your journey. One of the hardest feelings to experience is loneliness. That people don’t understand. They don’t know how to help.
 
But I’m there with my clients, every step of the way. Two brains are often better than one when it comes to managing executive functioning gaps.
 
I had a great conversation this morning with someone who can give me a great deal of support, in an area of my business that’s been holding me back.
 
Together we’ll build a bridge between here and there. We’re in this together is never more true than for people with chronic challenges.
 
Interdependence is the bedrock of our relationships, while much of the world chases the myth of independence. Out to prove how much they don’t need help.
 
But you and I understand through our lived experience, with the right help, we can get through anything.
 
Here for you, every step of the way.

What were we talking about again?

May be an image of 1 person and textIt’s a running joke that when people ask me to repeat something I said, I often forget what I said.
 
In fact, I usually forget what I’m saying as I’m saying it. When I was assessed and diagnosed with ADHD, and dyslexia, my working memory was measured in the 3rd percentile.
 
There seems to be just enough room to think of what I want to say, and remember it long enough to say it.
 
Then it’s ejected, and replaced by the next thought or statement.
 
Much of what I write is created with ideas that show up a bit at a time. It’s not uncommon for me to write a thought, then scroll a bit or start reading an article, then in pops the next idea for the article I’m writing.
 
I have a program called Otter.ai that could actually transcribe conversations in real time.
 
I can see it now, me meeting up with a friend, and whipping out my phone. Only to fire up the app to help remind me what the heck we’re talking about.
 
Just ask my clients how often, and how quickly I lose my place in a conversation. They’re used to me asking, “What was your original question?” Or, “What were we talking about just now?”
 
I find my memory improves when I focus on being as calm as possible. I’ve spent a lifetime learning how to do this. Thank you meditation and mindfulness.
 
I’ve taken to making notes of things I want to say, ask and so on. I’m frank with people about what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it.
 
They’re totally okay with it, because it shows them I’m invested in the conversation, that I care about listening well, and being conscientious of how I respond.
 
Not allowing myself this accommodation is tantamount to self-harm. Like choosing to walk when I honestly need my wheelchair.
 
Sure I can do it, but it makes getting from here to there much harder, and with significantly more stumbles.
 
It simply makes sense to use what you must to become more effective at connecting with the people you care about.
 
Effective communication begins with learning to listen to yourself.

What’s the secret to my ability to craft writing and speaking the way I do?

What’s the secret to my ability to craft writing and speaking the way I do?
 
I have a Neurodivergent Jedi skill I don’t talk about often, this in depth. Some of this I’m sharing for the first time.
 
A feature of the autistic part of my brain, is a form of synesthesia that allows me to viscerally feel language, and sound.
 
When I hear a voice, I feel tapping along my vagus nerve, like tapping notes on a piano. Hearing and using language feels musical to me. I hear and feel the words, and their voice. Imagine how powerfully this affects my listening. I pick up nuance like a Jedi.
 
I listen to the words, tone, rhythm and emotion in someone’s language. As someone talks, I listen, and feel it as though I’m listening to music.
 
The sound of a person’s voice can be calming, invigorating, even upsetting. It doesn’t matter what their mood is, or what they’re saying.
 
The sound alone causes a feeling along both the pleasure/pain and safety/threat continuum of my experience.
 
If a pitch is too high or too low, it’s extremely physically overwhelming, and it’s like I can’t breathe. Only by stopping the sound or escaping it am I able to calm down and find focus. Kinda like removing your bare hand from a hot stove.
 
Busy environments can be particularly unraveling unless I can buffer it by being able to move, talk or listen to music.
 
Every word I use has a corresponding sensation. Which is why I’m so deliberate when I speak and write. The music has to sound and feel right.
 
If something is off key when someone is talking to me, I catch it, no matter how subtle. Not only do I spot the blip, I intuitively know what to say, write or think instead. To increase the harmony and flow of the language.
 
Each person creates a story to describe their lives. In my brain, every story contains a song and crafting that is as essential as the story. They’re an inseparable pair, because that’s how my nervous system experiences them.
 
It’s difficult to describe this experience. It isn’t empathy, though it has deepened my empathy. It isn’t being triggered, because a majority of sounds are pleasurable, not traumatic.
 
In fact, I also have dyslexia. So the written word doesn’t have the same affect on me as the spoken word.
 
I guess the bottom line is words are energy, have vibration, and resonance. It’s an energy my nervous system is tuned into.
 
I can tune into, and translate the energy to help others find the soundtrack of their lives. You could be a word away from a new song.
 
We should talk sometime.

How old do you feel when you hurt?

When you’ve experienced hurt after hurt that’s difficult to heal, here’s what happens. May be a closeup of 1 person and text that says 'NeurodivergentWomen.co'

If you experienced a hurt at age 5, that you haven’t been able to heal, there’s a part of you stuck at age 5. It’s waiting for the guidance it needs to move forward.
 
Say something else happens when you’re 11, then 20.
 
You could wind up an adult that’s anxious, depressed, confused and so on.
 
How could you not be when you’re trying to adult with parts of you that are 5, others 11 and so on.
 
Each of these ages is stuck in a threat response and responds to danger from its level of maturity.
 
They each want to keep you safe in a different way, ending up in conflict with each other as a result.
 
The different reasons you think of for not doing something, usually accompanied by catastrophic thinking – that’s them. The younger parts trying to protect you. 
 
What’s seen as dramatic or an overreaction, is likely coming from a part of you stuck at a younger age. The 5 or 11 year old part waiting to grow, and learn to feel safe again.
 
It’s hard to know who you are, when your growth is haphazard and your inner world is sending you so many mixed messages.
 
Bringing things into better (not perfect) balance, is key for finding the peace of mind, calm, connection and happiness you’re looking for.
 
It doesn’t happen overnight, and you don’t want it too. It’s simpler to navigate a river than a flood.
 
I’ve been doing this work on myself for over 30 years, and teaching it to others since 2006. Since I’m always growing, my clients are always learning more.
 
It’s an amazing journey.

Emotions are like couriers…

May be an image of 3 people and text that says '- couriers... like Emotions Emotions are NeurodivergentWomen.co'Emotions are like couriers, they show up to deliver a message and go on their way.
 
You thank the courier for the message and watch them disappear in the distance. You don’t demand they stay with you forever.
 
You don’t declare the courier to be part of your identity either. The job of the courier is to deliver emotional messages. Messages alerting you to the presence of threats and opportunities.
 
Threats and opportunities aren’t mutually exclusive by the way.
 
This is the kind of relationship I teach my clients how to have with their emotions. So their emotions can come and go without overwhelming or becoming a preoccupation.
 
Change the relationship with your emotions even slightly. They become advisors instead of adversaries.

Discovering wisdom in wanting to surrender to adversity…

“I kind of gave up at one point”, that’s how she began describing what she referred to as “depression”. She’d experienced the end of several relationships, and was mired in thoughts of those losses.
 
She developed a preoccupation with “death”. Not uncommon when you focus on death long enough.
 
Calling what you’re feeling, “depression” is like saying you’re in the ocean. What part of the ocean? “Oh, the wet part”?
 
It’s possible and imperative to become more specific. The more precise you can be in identifying the root issue, the more specific your remediating action can be.
 
Simply thinking positive or engaging in enjoyable activities, serve only to distract your mind, if they don’t address the underlying issue.
 
I have a process of asking strategic questions that help clients become curious of their own experience, more than frightened of it.
 
My process revealed she wasn’t preoccupied with death, she was preoccupied with loss.
 
There’s a missing piece to your experience of loss when you focus primarily on pain of the loss. Even when you try to distract yourself with happy thoughts, sad ones invariably intrude. Suddenly you’re sad again.
 
She felt defeated by the inability to make herself feel happy all the time.
Even when able to experience gratitude, feelings of sadness that surfaced were seen as a failure to be more positive. This is like wanting the sun to never set, and when it does, feeling you’ve been short changed somehow.
 
I asked if she believed her options are to be happy or sad, but not both? This is indeed what she believed, classic all-or-nothing thinking.
 
She was intrigued by the idea happiness and sadness could be felt simultaneously. I added a word to her emotional vocabulary, and her demeanor softened. The word is, “bittersweet”. Bittersweet describes the feeling of happy, and sadness occurring together.
 
This feeling is nurtured by alternating thoughts of longing and gratitude.
 
One thing that helps foster this opposition to feeling sadness, is the number of people who step in to try and rescue you from sadness.
 
It can give the impression sadness is bad, and your people-pleasing ways compel you to pretend you’re happy. This, to soothe the person worried about you.
 
It’s important to acknowledge, and experience both the happy, and sad. They both have something to tell you about where you are, and what you need, right now!
 
Depression can be driven by a preoccupation with a problem perceived as, unsolvable. Identifying the preoccupation is the laser-focused root we want to find and unwind to help refine your thinking.
 
Now we can take that laser-focused root, and go after it. I asked her, “So you’ve got one part that is trying to convince you to give up? What does it think you’re gonna get by giving up? How’s that helpful to you?”
 
What we discovered, is by giving up, she stops taking risks, which eliminates the risk she’ll get attached, and suffer the pain of loss, again.
 
This insight was a breakthrough for her.
 
The part telling her adamantly, to quit, just shifted from being a villain to a teacher. That part of her is actually well intended, and wants to protect her from being hurt. But it’s wanting her to take an all or nothing position because it’s coming from a place of survival.
 
You don’t want to get mostly away from a tiger, right? It’s an all-or-nothing proposition, you want to be hell-and-gone from the tiger.
 
Now, the part of her that remembers the good times, and the one that focuses on the loss are both trying to help her feel better. But they approach the hurt in different ways.
 
Suffering, pain and loss are parts of the human experience. A more balanced perspective reminds you, you feel hurt, and you’re going to be okay.
 
Allowing room for bittersweet, opens you to a more complete experience, where all of it teaches you, and there are no emotional villains. The toughest emotions tell you what you need the most in that moment. When you know what questions to ask.
 
This was only a part of our conversation. I helped her learn much more in this call. Now, you also know how to begin finding the wisdom, when you feel like giving up.

Why your emotions need a clean chimney

Fireplaces can be a source of warmth, comfort and security. As long as the chimney is open, and excess heat, smoke can leave.

If the chimney is blocked, by clutter or critter, the smoke could fill the house. That is, until it finds another way out.

Come to think of it, your emotions work the same way.

They want out, in the form of tears, sharing fears or asking for support you need.

But when you force your emotions down, every time they try to come up. You’re blocking the chimney.

You may think the emotions are gone, or at least contained. What they’re actually doing is filling the house, your body.

They’re looking for a way out. A window, door, something. As long as it get’s a chance to be felt.

A window could be a headache, a backache or fatigue. A door could be stomach upset, or an ulcer.

That energy wreaks havoc until it completes it’s journey. First it arrives, it passes through, then it leaves. They’re temporary.

When you shove it down you hold it hostage, you won’t let it leave. You’re only through it once you experiencep it, and learn it’s wisdom.

Allowing yourself the level of honesty and vulnerability to experience emotions freely, is courageous and one of the most generous things you can do for yourself.

Unexpressed emotions show up at unwanted times. They source defensiveness, low self-esteem and so on.

For all the effort we make at being seen, feeling important. It makes sense you need to know how it feels, to get better at knowing it when you see it.

Start by seeing yourself through accepting and compassionate eyes. So your emotions come, show and go.

Here to help you find your way.

Are your emotions user friendly?

The emotions I grew up with were primarily, fear, anger, sadness, and so on.

“What’s your relationship like with your emotions?” Hold that thought, we’ll get to your answer in a bit.

As a Neurodivergent kid, growing up in the 70’s, and 80’s, few knew what to do for a child coloring so far outside the lines.
Bottom line, it didn’t go well.

There were good times, and beautiful moments as well. Hard to remember, hidden behind a preoccupation with woundings versus wisdom.

In my later years, I committed to refining my primary responses to life, either flying off the handle, or collapsing into a puddle of tears. This tormenting pendulum made it nearly impossible to feel safe in my own skin.

One belief that surfaced, was your imperfect moments aren’t human, but a cumulative score kept by some imaginary gatekeeper. If you have a high score you’re some how worth less.

I’ll let you in on something, one of the reasons we neurodivergents are so creative, and resourceful, because we have significantly more opportunities to discover workarounds, and other unique solutions to problems.

Having committed decades to the inner work, I enjoy a wonderful balance of my emotions. A calm mind that accepts the e-motion or energy motion, of the visceral responses to the world around me.

Anxiety and depression remain ever present, but they’re largely a manageable field of weeds. Frequent tending required.

I wanted to explore this topic of emotion with my online community. So I posed the question “What’s your relationship like with your emotions?” I was blown away by the number of responses and the pattern in them.

Maybe a fourth of the answers expressed an accepting, and positive relationship with their emotions.

The rest described their relationship with their emotions as:
“love-hate”,
“I focus on the surface stuff and tuck the rest away”
“detached”
“roller coaster”
“tumultuous”

No one deserves to live with the belief, that the opportunity to feel is primarily an opportunity to feel bad.

Showing emotion isn’t for the purpose of letting your guard down for you to be hurt in some way. It’s simultaneously an opening of your heart, to allow for the sharing of love and connection with each other.

As mentioned earlier, learning to shift your focus from woundings to wisdom, gives you access to the inner resources you need, to heal when your heart is hurting.

One positive answer from a community member stood out, “My emotions ebb and flow in cycles throughout the day. I take each feeling as it comes and allow it space, and feel it throughly. I don’t control them and they don’t control me. We work in harmony most days, and when we don’t, I listen to what they tell me.”

That is the experience that’s possible with our emotions. It was the topic of conversation with the Women in my Inner Circle yesterday morning. The HOW to get there from here.

This ability isn’t granted at birth. It’s ideal to receive instruction on the thinking, and habits that help make this the way you live your life.

I’ve invested in a combination of therapy and mentorship. Plus a commitment to confront and correct the ways I deceive myself (I call it the No Bullshit Rule). This inner work has been transformative in helping me regulate my emotions instead of fearing them.

How do you experience inner peace when you work so hard to keep the lid on the pressure cooker?
Different emotions mean different things. It’s hard to find the meaning if you don’t even know what emotion you’re feeling.

Even happy or calm can feel like a threat when you have more words to describe the difficult emotions, than the positive.

Working to expand your emotional vocabulary, and ability to experience a wider range of emotion is key. There are so many subtle, invigorating and wonderful layers to life. But living with emotional color-blindness keeps them out of view.

An important distinction between emotion and feelings. Emotions are the raw energy your body produces in response to your interaction with life.

Feelings refer to our stories about the what and why of our emotions, the story we create about our emotions. The moment you begin having thoughts about your emotions, you are feeling. Got it!

By learning to experience your emotions safely, in a variety of ways, you can also get in touch with your feelings/stories.
The story determines how long an emotion stays, how intense it can feel, and whether you wise-up or wound from it.

Your mind and body are one. Emotions wake your body, and mind up in preparation for action.
You have more options than fight or flight. But you need more emotions in your repertoire to discover them.

Let’s get started.

Uprooting Self-Sabotage so you can move forward


 Sabotaging opportunities for ourselves is so common.
 
When you live with Neurodivergence (e.g. Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia), it’s practically a bodily function.
 
After all, the brain’s primary objective is to keep you alive. What you do with that life is another conversation.
 
Self-Sabotage is a way of protecting yourself from an imagined threat.
 
A threat can be the opportunity in question is unfamiliar. If you “hate” surprises, or don’t like unpredictability. WELL! You’ll do your best to prevent yourself from having that experience, right?
 
Something I want to make clear. Self-sabotage IS NOT a character deficit. Self-sabotage is something you DO, it’s not something you ARE.
 
Self-talk such as, “What’s wrong with me?” “Why am I like this?” Stem from the belief the problem is you, personal.
 
It’s like owning a top of the line, BMW, but you put a crappy coat of paint on it. The problem is the paint not the car. The sabotage is the paint that covers everything you have going for you, the value underneath.
 
The problem is actually, a pattern of thinking and behavior you use to protect yourself, from opportunities to step outside your comfort zone and grow.
 
In fact, depending on your life experience, you may be so used to chaos that feeling calm is highly uncomfortable. So you manufacture crisis to feel the stress chemicals in your mind/body again.
 
There’s one emotion that underpins all self-sabotage. Want to hazard a guess?
 
Fear! Which opens the door to questions rooted in the cause versus the behavior of self-sabotage (e.g. canceling a lot, avoiding, procrastination, lying and so on).
 
The questions shift from, “What’s wrong with me?” to “What threat do I perceive?”
 
“What pain do I imagine I’ll experience if I embrace this opportunity?”
 
The threat you imagine, and fear you won’t be okay as a result, is at the root of self-sabotage.
 
We’re taught to measure the value of an opportunity by weighing the pros and cons, the good versus the bad. As though they’re experienced side-by-side and not simultaneously.
 
For instance, “I want to do a good job in this new role. I’ve consistently done a good job, I plan to do my best. However, if I don’t, I’ll still be okay.”
 
When considering an opportunity it’s easy to imagine the best case scenario, and the worst case scenario. Neither is particularly useful.
 
But a doable scenario (like the one noted above) is balanced. It considers likely outcomes, based on evidence on hand, and reminds you you’ll be okay, and find your way, either way.
 
What I’ve written is a condensed version of what I shared with the members of my Women’s Neurodivergent Community. The entire exchange is even more powerful. As a member you’ll have full access to it and more.
 
Learn to take a chance on yourself versus taking a dive. Either way you’ll be okay, because you have me to show you the way

Does my worth as a person change if another person is unhappy?

 
I remember being sent to my room when expressing emotion showing I was upset. I was so anxious in general, my emotions would come out as screaming, crying or meltdown.
 
I knew being upset got me pushed away, either literally or in the form of oversimplified sentiment, “Just ignore it”, “You’re too sensitive,” “Quit being so dramatic!”
 
Nothing about how to make myself happy. Plenty about what I need to STOP doing so others can be happy with me.
 
What was it like for you?
Did you feel your ability to make others happy was always just out of reach?
 
I posed a question along this theme to my Women’s Inner Circle and the conversation BOOMED! The question is, “Does my worth as a person change if another person is unhappy?”
 
We’re raised in our culture to be people pleasers. We grow up having to please our parents, our teachers, our classmates, employers and so on. All to avoid rejection in some form.
 
Our Swiss army knife of tools designed to help us fit-in enough to survive, though not enough to belong, and thrive.
 
Believing you have the power to give someone else happiness, opens the door to them taking yours.
 
Say you’re in a good mood, then someone says something critical or disapproving. Suddenly, your good mood sours, and you find yourself in a formidable funk you can’t seem to find your way out of.
 
One reason for this shift may be a feeling of failure as a people pleaser. This is subconscious, of course.
 
The belief you can control someone else’s emotions, is bolstered by years of training, at the hands of a manipulative other. Using shame and blame as twin arrows to break your heart, time and time again.
 
You may even return to others in attempts to make them happy. They may even criticize you for your efforts. You can’t win.
 
Fortunately, the objective isn’t winning the emotional manipulation game.
 
Let’s return to the question, “Does my worth as a person change if another person is unhappy?”
 
How about, “does the worth of the ocean change during low tide”?
“Does the Earth lose worth when the sun sets?”
 
Your worth as a human being is constant, regardless of the ebb and flow of your or anyone else’s emotions.
 
My goal is to be the most human I can be. That means accepting everything about myself with kindness and compassion.
 
That is taking responsibility for keeping my consciousness clear of the cobwebs that make me want to vomit my suffering upon others.
 
Your inner work, learning to be responsible for showing up in the best way you know how, is the beginning and end of your responsibility to others.
 
Acceptance requires you to look your inner critic in the eye, while you assertively claim your power to own your story and your worth.
 
Then come the mighty boundaries you learn to make sure someone else’s pigeon can no longer poop on your head.
 
Let’s make this happen for you.