If I am being completely honest with you, and that’s what I try to do when I write, it has been one of the hardest of my 40 fears that I’ve had to face this year. I’ve spent months avoiding it, because it’s where I’m most vulnerable.
Initially I called it procrastination, and chalked it up to one of my many challenges with executive functioning skills.
I know that I struggle with executive functioning skills. The Cerebral Executive Officer that runs my brain can be pretty incompetent. Her job is to put order to chaos, prioritize my competing priorities, and make sure that stuff gets done… especially the jobs that no one wants to do like cleaning my bathroom.
I know that my CEO is capable. She’s the task master that helps me accomplish my goals like running the marathon.
Lately, her performance and leadership skills have left a lot to be desired. If I could fire her for screwing up so often lately I would.
Here’s a few examples of how my CEO has failed me lately.
She lost my keys.
I spent 2 days looking for them last week before finally finding them in my sock drawer.
If this was the only thing that she’d dropped the ball on lately, I’d probably forgive her, but it’s not.
There’s the electric staple gun that showed up a few weeks ago under my covers and then disappeared when I needed it for a project.
It has gotten to the point where I’m concerned that she isn’t capable of functioning at all, and the whole business has really gone down hill.
I haven’t been exercising.My Christmas decorations are shoved into boxes cluttering my work space, and everywhere I look, I am assaulted with unfinished tasks and projects.
I’m tired of my CEO allowing me hours of mindless pleasure of scrolling my social media accounts, over indulging on chocolate or another sugary snack, and procrastinating things of importance.
(Like missing the deadline for writing this blog post, and refusing to do simple household chores like dishes and laundry.) The lack of control is having a negative influence on other aspects of my life, and I’m ready to change it.
The keys and the stapler are just small examples of my lack of executive functioning skills though.
It is a much bigger problem. What I didn’t tell you is that losing my keys made me miss the memorial service of a dear friend.
I know my executive functioning skills will never be neurotypical or “normal”.
I know most people like me, who are brilliant in other ways, but struggle with executive functioning skills. We have coping mechanisms, but sometimes they fail us.
Especially when we need it the most.
I also know that CEO is capable of more than she’s giving me now. Even the crappiest managers can improve their performance. It just takes manager training and performance monitoring.
Here’s my strategy to retrain my CEO so she can do a better job as a manager. If you struggle with executive functioning skills too, or your child does, hopefully this will help.
- Ask for help My Mom has rockstar executive functioning skills. It was helpful as a child when she would send me to clean my room. I would usually end up in tears, and was overwhelmed because I didn’t know where to start. My mother has the ability to assess the situation, and help me prioritize how to accomplish what I needed to do. Look for a trusted friend or adviser to mentor you. It needs to be someone who can help without judgement, because that kind of negativity won’t help the situation improve, and may make it worse.
- Change your environment to gain perspective Sometimes physical movement or changing where we are can help. When I find that I am spending to long in my house staring at the piles of stuff, I am overwhelmed. Spending time in a clean, organized environment helps me order my mind.
- Do just one thing Start with something small. Pick just one thing to do and focus on it. I realized Friday, that I was letting my issues swallow me, and it was affecting my children and mental well being. I ran. I didn’t clean, but 30 minutes on the treadmill helped immeasurably. I realized that I can work through the piles of stuff and filth that are around me if I focus on taking care of me. I need to run. Find the one thing you need to do to balance yourself, and do it. Maybe it’s being well rested, working in your yard, or a pedicure. Do the one thing you need to to be more balanced. Your future self will thank you.
Even though the ADD medication I have taken daily for the past five years helps me cope and adapt,
It doesn’t change who I am.
I was fired from a job, because “Attention to details is not one of your strengths.”
My mother helped me with my executive functioning deficiencies as a child. She has a gift of being able to bring order to physical chaos and clutter.
She would direct me, one task at a time, as I cleaned my room.
First, pick up everything that is garbage and put it in this bag.
Next, put all of the toys in the toy box.
If she left, me to clean on my own, inevitably, she would return to me crying on the floor, paralyzed in inaction, not knowing what to keep or toss. Or, I would be distracted reading a book. Unfortunately my mom lives in another state, and can’t help me, and I need to help create an environment for my children that is cleaner and more peaceful.
I need to help myself, and work with the CEO that I have. I can’t just quit when it’s rough.
I am a saver.
Everything is important, as I attach memories, and form attachments with objects or things that others would discard. It’s not trash in my mind. It is something that can be saved and repurposed.
I have piles of these things around my home.
My 9th fear is becoming a hoarder, because my lack of executive functioning skills make that a very real possibility for me.
Am I like those people on those hoarding shows?
But not yet, because I can change.
I am always a few failed coping strategies away from barricades of boxes.
Hoarding, lack of home cleanliness, and executive functioning organization is enough of an issue, for me that it has triggered my fear number 27 having company at my house.
My lack of executive functioning skills have hurt me.
I am full of self loathing and shame when I look at piles unfinished projects around my house.
I see shock in other people’s eyes when they see how I live. It makes them uncomfortable, because it shifts their view of me, and reminds me of what I want to change most about myself now.
My house is a reflection of my mind, and I already know that most people do not understand the way that I think.
I don’t like to Skype, video chat, or live stream.
I don’t take pictures inside my house very often, unless they are thoughtfully angled to avoid our stuff which is everywhere.
I know that it’s not on par with reality television, but it’s not somewhere I’m proud to call home.
The two bedroom condo I share with my husband and four sons is not palatial. I know that it could be less cluttered and more organized.
If I were the only person in my household who struggled with executive functioning issues, I could warmly embrace help from my family members, like I still do every time my mom comes for a visit.
Much like our brilliant, gifted minds, the six of us also share under developed executive functioning skills.
(Remember the 19 tardies per quarter average I wrote about here?)
As my eyes move around my home, I feel the same weight from my childhood settle in my chest.
I am overwhelmed.
I don’t know where to start, so I distract myself with a mind numbing project to avoid the priorities that surround me, shouting for my instant attention.
I hoard because my physical possessions trigger memories, and I convince myself I am preserving my legacy by saving things.
Do you, or your child struggle with executive function skills also? Read other posts by brilliant bloggers as part of Hoagie’s Gifted Education monthly blog hop series. This month’s topic is Executive Function. You can click the link here, or the graphic below.