Do you have a hard time making decisions?

Do you have a hard time making decisions?
 
Are you afraid no matter what you decide, it’ll be wrong, or someone will be upset with you?
 
Growing up Neurodivergent (e.g. ADHD, Dyslexia), you’re criticized and corrected far more than a typical peer.
 
You’re criticized for NOT thinking things through. But no one taught you how YOUR brain makes decisions. What steps does YOUR brain need to take think things through?
 
Without a process for making decisions, how can you be expected to get better at it? A process for your brain. Instead of constantly being reprimanded for NOT doing it the typical way.
 
Having the right friends, in a community, who know how to support you, so you feel comfortable learning what works best for you. Then you can be at YOUR best, not measure up to someone else’s best.
 
There are too many voices in your head from your past.
Voices of people who didn’t know any better.
 
You don’t owe it to them to keep that voice alive.
You do owe it to yourself to create a voice that speaks with compassion versus condemnation.
 
My community of Neurodivergent Women can provide you a path forward and a community supporting you every step of the way.
 
You’ll never be alone in this journey.

A tip for lasting motivation…

Staying motivated long enough to see things through is a challenge for the ADHD, Neurodivergent crowd.
 
Something that can help is celebrating small wins along the way.
 
One of my motto’s, “Put your beginnings and endings closer together.”
 
Imagine your path is made of stepping stones. Every step helps you progress along the path.
 
So every completed action moves you somewhere, (hopefully) forward.
 
I need help creating plans because my executive functions (e.g. planning, sequencing) are so shoddy.
 
Having EF challenges doesn’t mean you should quit. It means you have an opportunity to experience synergy. You’ve heard the expression, “two brains are better than one.”
 
In my experience, working with someone who’s EFs are better than yours is a gift to both of you.
 
Now this is one aspect of the entire approach to staying motivated.
 
In my Inner Circle you learn the strategy and have an entire community cheering you on, and helping you work through your fears. It’s so powerful.

If they don’t do it, they don’t see it

Here’s a tip about nonverbal cues you may find useful when communicating with ND folks, “If they don’t do it, they don’t see it.”

How to socialize, nonverbal language, is typically learned through social modeling.

Unless your brain is Neurodivergent. Then it comes complete with detours and trap doors that get in the way of you seeing the nonverbal language being communicated.

For example: If someone speaks in a monotone voice, they won’t tune into your vocal inflection the same way. They don’t have the range you do.

They may interpret your inflection in an all-or-nothing way. Believing the moment your voice no longer sounds happy, it means you’re upset with them.

I’d been told in the past I don’t use a lot of facial expression when I talk, though my voice is expressive.

I also had difficulty interpreting facial expressions. I’ve put work into this and think I’ve improved in both areas.

It’s helped me deepen my empathy and become an even better listener.

So how do you bridge this gap? Observe them to see what they’re not doing:

Not making a lot of facial expressions
Not using sarcasm (correctly)
Not speaking with inflection or emotion
Not using hands or body to help convey their message.

Whatever they aren’t doing, they’re likely missing in part or entirely when you do it.

They may as well be blind to it, like it never happened.

Solution? As the owner of an ND brain, I’ve learned to ask strategic questions so people speak what was otherwise communicated nonverbally.

For everyone else, you can ask yourself these question during the conversation.

1) Have I clearly verbalized whether something is upsetting me in this conversation?

2) Have I clearly verbalized my needs?

3) Have I clearly verbalized the actions I plan to take and any I’d like the other person to take as part of any agreement?

Those are examples of key things you might assume are communicated in an obvious way during conversation. Not so fast, as you can see.

Let’s meet somewhere in the middle please.

Do they care about me or are they using me?

May be an image of textRelationships are give and take, right?
 
But is the give and take transactional or reciprocal?
 
We just explored this in depth in the NEW-IC Group call because the distinction is important to prevent yourself from getting used.
 
This is especially important to know as someone with neurodivergence. We can be trusting, and our desire to please can be used against us.
 
You see, someone who thinks transactionally believes theirs a spoken or unspoken agreement between you. A this-for-that agreement.
 
You do something for me, I do something for you. If you fail to do what you’re “supposed to” the other person will be upset with you. It’s because you’ve broken the deal and now they can’t complete the transaction.
 
Folks who see relationships as transactional surround themselves with people who have a specific use versus having specific values or qualities.
 
On the other hand, reciprocity is valuing the importance of looking out for one another. You give because you believe it’s important to do so, not because you expect something immediately in return from that person.
 
Ideally, you’re creating supportive relationships with people who give to you of their own will because they also value reciprocity.
 
The ones who take, take, take, are thinking transactionally. In there mind its going to the drive through. Why would they be concerned if the person giving them their food is also hungry, they got what they came for. Make sense?
 
In the NEW-IC we learn to set boundaries with transactional folks so they stop draining us. THEN, we develop the confidence and skills to build the relationships that build us up and bring us joy. Beginning with each other.
 
Making that shift so you have more people giving to you than asking of you is the goal. You can try doing this alone, but that’s the hard way, and you don’t have to.

Is the real problem your emotions or your execution?

Hey Fellow Neurodivergents!

There are two kinds of skills you need to learn when working to make the butterflies in your brain fly in formation.

You need skills for regulation and execution. There tends to be an overemphasis on execution. By that I mean techniques for accommodating executive functioning struggles.

Examples would be use of planners, digital calendars, alarms, note takers, post-it notes. They are concrete solutions that can be checked off the same way providing a wheelchair or a pair of glasses would be.

They address issues that most impact productivity and are therefore prioritized.

Now you can have all the skills in the world to execute, take action more effectively. But if you’re unable to regulate your emotions, anxious thoughts, tendency toward catastrophic thinking. Then you’re essentially wasting your time.

Whenever your emotions are dysregulated. Which is pretty constant when you’re neurodivergent. It’s just a matter of degree. The brain shuts off support for the prefrontal cortex which is where the executive functions live.

So the parts you need to use for execution go offline because the effort switches to trying to regulate your emotions.

Your ongoing feelings of anxiety, fatigue, brain fog, disorganization can have more to do with your prefrontal cortex being offline than it has to do with you lacking executive functioning skills.

Keeping yourself calm and focused helps keep your prefrontal cortex online, more often, so you can use the natural abilities you have. In addition to being able to apply any strategies you’ve learned.

So the solution is to learn to regulate your emotions FIRST! Things fall in line so much more easily after that. That’s why I emphasize teaching the women I coach how to calm their nervous systems while teaching them the executive functioning skills. It’s a perfect balance.

Keeping calm when they are triggered

May be an image of 2 people and indoor thing that helps you remain calm when someone has a strong emotional reaction, is to be clear who owns the reaction.
 
They do! A trigger isn’t a single cause resulting in a single reaction (e.g. “She said something mean, so I got mad.)
 
A trigger starts a chain reaction of neurological and physiological responses. Specifically in the threat detection sections of the brain.
 
The trigger itself is a sensory experience that reminds you of one you had during a traumatic event.
 
It happens in an instant in response to something that happened between you or around you when the person was triggered.
 
Stand firm in your intentions and your desire to do right by the other person. You never know how someone else will perceive you, even at your best.
 
Know that the other person is struggling to regulate their own emotions and nervous system. This can affect their ability to think clearly.
 
By keeping responsibility with them you’re also less inclined to want to “fix things”. Though you want to be supportive.
 
You want help deescalating things using the calm you’ve been able to maintain.
 
There are a variety of phrases you can use, each worded precisely to help them zero in on what they need. 
 
👉🏼 Please tell me what’s upset you just now so I can understand.
 
👉🏼 Did something just happen that threw you off?
 
👉🏼 What aren’t you talking about that’s upsetting you?
 
Encouraging them to define the issue in as concrete terms as possible begins the cool down. As they state their needs to someone calmly listening, it’s easier to follow suit.

How to significantly improve how to talk to yourself

raining on sidewalkWhen you want to show up more thoughtfully, patiently and helpfully for your neurodivergent child, spouse or for yourself. You really need to start with the narrator.
 
You know, the Narrator between your ears (your thinking mind) that tells you what’s happening, why it’s happening and who’s fault it is.
 
You’ve come to know your Narrator as the most trustworthy voice in your life. It tells you what to believe, what to do, who to trust and vice versa.
 
Is the world black and white or gray?
Is the world safe or dangerous?
Ask your Narrator.
 
One of the downsides of your Narrator is it is its own echo chamber. It loves listening to itself, not usually for the better.
 
The Narrator wants to protect you, so it’ll provide more details about obstacles than opportunities.
 
Some people are surprised to learn the negative way they talk to others is the same way the Narrator talks to them.
 
“Hold on a second Mr. King! Yes, I’m hard on myself and worry people will discover I’m secretly filled with self-doubt. But I treat people much better than I treat myself.”
 
Then I submit to you, your behavior in that case is the result of good social training. It’s less an authentic expression of your true feelings about the person and the moment you’re experiencing with them.
 
The energy it takes to keep up the facade is exhausting, isn’t it!?
 
How do you spot the Narrator in action?
The Narrator’s tool of choice is “should” and all its variations.
 
When you become aware of this, its mind blowing to discover how “should” permeates your view of the world. Like drops of rain landing on the sidewalk. They’re everywhere, touching everything.
 
Shoulds are competing comfort zones. Varies rules set by people who want you to adjust how you show up so they can be comfortable. I’m not talking about NEEDS here, I’m talking about preferences. Shoulds are preferences.
 
Unlearning the library of shoulds that have been forced upon you throughout your life is like getting an elephant off your chest.
 
You stop beating yourself up over little things.
You stop worrying so much about what others think.
You can be yourself around others and be authentic.
 
That’s peace, my friend.
That’s what I help the Women in my Inner Circle of Neurodivergence with every day.

Trouble making decisions?

standing on concrete with multiple arrows pointing in different directionsIndecision is one of the bigger gremlins I see Neurodivergents struggle with.
 
From whether to trust others, ask for help, or even whether to believe in themselves.
 
This is due in part to growing up being told most everything you’re doing is wrong.
 
It is also in part due to an unwillingness to consider more than all-or-nothing outcomes.
 
With that mindset you can only make good or bad, right or wrong decisions. There’s a lot on the line when you think that way.
 
In reality decisions are commitments to act toward an outcome.
 
The results of your action show you whether that action moves you closer or further from that outcome. You’re experimenting, not putting it all on the line.
 
Change how you see it, change how you feel it.
 
It’s your mind after all.

 

I wasn’t relieved when I was diagnosed…

May be a closeup of 2 people and text that says 'BRIAN CAN HE 1' report feeling relieved when they received their diagnosis (e.g. Autism, ADHD).
 
I didn’t. I was angry.
 
I thought about how different life could’ve been if I was helped instead of blamed or punished for my challenges.
 
I also felt extremely vulnerable.
I saw myself as typical, only to have the rug pulled out.
 
I felt like a fraud, like I’d have to get to know myself over again.
As I learned about the autism spectrum and ADHD, I learned about masking behavior.
 
Who I thought was the “typical” person I believed myself to be, was in fact my best attempt at an acceptable persona to please others.
 
When I realized how hard I’d been working to compensate and what I needed to care for my sensory and other needs, I began dismantling the persona.
 
There’s so much power and wisdom in your imperfect self. The more of the facade you’re able to drop, the freer and more at ease you can feel.
 
In my Inner Circle this unlearning is a core aspect of the work we do.

Faster doesn’t equal smarter

May be an image of 1 person and textWhy use speed as a measure of intelligence?
 
A client and I were swapping stories earlier, about the importance of giving our neurodivergent (ND) kids the time they need to process.
 
That goes for their ND parents as well.
 
Her daughter (homeschooled) can be playing in the proximity of a lesson/teacher and be paying attention. My client knows this because she’ll see her daughter apply the lesson later when she’s ready.
 
Good luck finding a school that supports this learning style. This intelligent, sensitive child whose nervous system relates to and processes information differently. She just needs more time.
 
I work with many bright ND kids who believe they’re stupid. Simply because other students answer questions more quickly or finish tests sooner.
 
A house built quickly isn’t a better house.
 
I have difficulty processing in real time and appear forgetful, have difficulty finding words and such. Give me the time I need to process and I can speak eloquently and intelligently.
 
The urgency and impatience inherent in our culture has us believing pausing is indicative of lying.
 
It could also indicate a person trying to think before they speak.
 
You have a right to pause and allow your brain to work at whatever speed it needs to for you to think clearly.
 
We could all do with more opportunities to pause, reflect and respond more mindfully. Don’t you think?