How do you feel about your brain?
Is it your most prized possession? Does it tend to come in your way? Do you nourish it with proper nutrition and juicy material to keep it satisfied? Do you even think about it in this way?
I’ve grown up believing our brains are somewhat superior to the rest of our body. And while there’s no denying they are a marvel of natural engineering, when we view our brain as a separate part from the rest of our body, we cannot truly be integrated, which can be damaging to both mind and body, and subsequently affect our self-belief.
From self-acceptance to self-belief
A few years ago, our older son received an array of letters that would form a complex diagnosis (ASD with PDA, ADHD and OCD). This may seem like a somewhat sterile or reductive way of labelling a child, but what this did for us as a family, is really open the door to the beauty of neurodivergence, and force me to start questioning a lot of things I took for granted.
(Please allow the linguist in me to make a quick side note: a person is “neurodivergent” and a group, if it includes both neurotypical and neurodivergent individuals is “neurodiverse”. I often see the terms mixed up so I thought I’d clear that one up. You’re welcome.)
Receiving this diagnosis first felt like a validation (I mean, we knew early on our son had a different way of operating in the world and my mom instincts were spot on). What I didn’t expect, was the massive permission slip it would bring to live life on our own terms and follow our son’s needs and preferences even if that looked totally different to what we had imagined (this of course is a hugely edited version that skips the hugely messy middle part, burnout and daily WTAFs we were and to an extent still are going through).
Like many parents of newly diagnosed neurodivergent children, I started wondering about my own brain as the hereditary component of neurodivergence is significant.
This is not me about to come out as ADHD or on the spectrum. To be honest, I have no idea where I find myself under the umbrella of brain variety. I realised that for me, at this stage in my life, it doesn’t really matter (not to say it won’t change in the future).
What does matter however (and this is where I start making my point thanks for your patience), is that I started to become curious about and started to embrace my unique biological make up and differences, something I had never done in my life for fear of appearing different, weird, or worse – needy.
I used to think having 54 internet tabs open while working was somewhat “bad” and a problem to be “fixed” (aren’t self-disciplined and successful people supposed to focus on one thing at a time?). And while I do focus on only one thing when I coach, when it comes to writing, creating or researching it’s a free for all, my brain firing in a million directions at once. Is it ADHD? I don’t know, the jury’s still out. I’ve simply accepted this is the way my brain operates. And it works for me. I’ve managed to earn a Master’s degree, work in many different settings and build a business this way.
In short: embracing my son’s neurodivergence with radical acceptance has taught me to extend myself the favour.
The magic lies in unequivocally accepting the unique way you operate in spite of the messages you may have been given your whole life by arbitrary societal standards.
True self-acceptance, coupled with learning to work with the different “waves” you go through in an hour / day / week / month / year makes way for more copious amounts of self-belief.
So instead of wondering if you’re doing things “right” (which usually means doing things according to capitalistic, patriarchal, ableist, white standards) you could ask yourself instead: what do I truly need in this moment? Because we don’t move mountains when we keep going against our nature. Trust me on that.
How spicy is your brain?
A term has recently appeared in the neurodivergent community to talk about brains that operate differently from the “norm”: Spicy brain (Shout-out to my mate Pippa for introducing me to the term).
I love it. Because it removes the idea that some ways of functioning are better than others. You may have a tiny sprinkle of spice, South Indian levels of spice, or no spice at all.
Learning to give your unique brain (and body, but that will be the topic of next week’s musing) the unique support and nourishment it needs to operate smoothly is what will allow you to tap into your unique strengths and gifts.
And that my friend, is what the world needs more of. Self-accepting, self-believing individuals who spend less energy trying to fit in and more bringing their unique spice level and magic to the world around them.
If you’d like to explore how to expand your self-acceptance and self-belief, you can book a complimentary 15-min call with me to chat about how coaching could support you.