An Executive Function - You’ve Got To Feel Like It To Do It - 049Oct 09, 2017
In the last episode, I talked about how we are a “feeling driven people” and if we don’t feel like it, we don’t do it; plain and simple. Some might interpret this as immature and say that you have to do things you don’t feel like doing when you are a mature adult. I don’t disagree. However, I have a little different take on this. Of course, we have to do things that we don’t feel like doing (meaning would rather not do; that’s part of maturity). However, the part of this that’s important to distinguish is to “feel like it.” There is a feeling that goes with what we do. I might get the yard work done because I feel like doing it. So, what is the “FEELING” that I experience that allows me to get it done? It depends.
In this episode, I talk about:
- Cognition and Meta-Cognition
- Affect and Meta-Affect
- The importance of being able to shift your state as needed, rather than having to wait it out
- The value of building a "feeling library" to borrow from when you need to "feel like it"
Developing your Executive Function Skills and shifting your limiting beliefs is the fastest and most effective way to overcome ADHD limitations, find focus, gain confidence, and newfound freedom in your life!
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Full Episode Transcript Hey ADDers! So glad you could join me for today’s podcast episode. In the last episode, I talked about how we are a “feeling driven people” and if we don’t feel like it, we don’t do it; plain and simple. Some might interpret this as immature and say that you have to do things you don’t feel like doing when you are a mature adult. I don’t disagree. However, I have a little different take on this. Of course, we have to do things that we don’t feel like doing (meaning would rather not do; that’s part of maturity). However, the part of this that’s important to distinguish is to “feel like it.” There is a feeling that goes with what we do. I might get the yard work done because I feel like doing it. So, what is the “FEELING” that I experience that allows me to get it done? It depends.
There are many times in your life that you “feel like” or “don’t feel like” doing something. And for most of you, I think the way you interpret that thought or experience is different than what I am talking about.
As I talked about briefly in the last episode, I became aware of the need to “feel like it” in a very different way and then started working on “feeling like it” so I could actually be activated and get things done that I had trouble getting done before. I learned that when I “feel” a certain way or have a “certain feeling” I am inclined to do things that I wouldn’t otherwise do. Knowing that, I also realized that I can’t leave this to chance in the hopes that I will “feel like it” when I need to feel like it. I began to understand that I can take steps to ensure that I “feel like it” which is a very powerful position to be in.
I want to take a moment and introduce you to four concepts that you may or may not be familiar with:
· Cognition – the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and your senses.
· Meta-cognition – is the awareness and understanding of your own thought processes; in other words thinking about your thinking
· Affect – is the outward expression of feelings and emotion. It can be a tone of voice, a smile, a frown, a laugh, a smirk, a tear, pressed lips, a crinkled forehead, a scrunched nose, furrowed eyebrows, or an eye gaze. It is any facial expression or body movement that indicates emotion.
· Mega-affect – is the awareness and understanding of your own emotions and feelings; in other words thinking about your feelings as well as feeling how you feel about your feelings.
With meta-cognition, which is the ability to monitor your own thinking and learning, it can lead you to greater learning success across many areas of your life. When you engage with meta-cognition, you
· Actively think about which cognitive strategies can help you achieve learning
· How you should apply those strategies
· How you can review your progress
· Whether you need to adjust your thinking or not
Before you can do these things, you need to ask yourself certain questions along the way such as:
· What are my learning goals?
· How am I going to learn this?
· How will I double-check that I have it right?
· How does this new content fit in with what I already know?
· How well do I know this? Can I apply this new knowledge or skill in other areas or situations?
Your brain requires “explicit or clear instructions” for it to perform its best for you. You have to plan, do, review, plan, do, review and so on until you finally find a plan that works for you to achieve what you want to achieve. Perseverance and creativity are extremely important when you are monitoring yourself. And mistakes are absolutely necessary and don’t represent failure, but rather the opportunity to learn and grow from them.
Some important points about thinking and learning:
· “How” you learn is as important as “what” you learn
· Set your “goal”, which is the direction you want to go in and plan strategies to move in that direction as well as monitor your progress towards that goal.
· Remember to think “out loud” and use “context” to understand the meaning of things. A change of context can change the meaning of things.
· Play with foresight development by imagining or predicting what might happen in a particular situation or practice talking yourself though an assignment or task to its completion.
· Use hindsight to reflect on your successes or failed attempts. How did you accomplish your successful outcome? How did you achieve your failed outcome? Learn from this.
· Expand what you are learning about yourself and your thinking to other situations such as monitoring and managing your stress in one situation, might come in handy in another situation.
Some points about becoming more metacognitive:
· First understand that metacognition is you thinking about your thinking, so you can improve your thinking and how you learn, and that you are the meaning maker in your life and have the opportunity to make the best meanings out of experiences for you.
· You are also the driver of your destiny since you are the one who is taking you where you want to go. You need to learn when to put on the brakes (slow down to really understand something and even ask questions) and when to excel (and keep moving forward with what you can do) as you advance towards your goal.
· Talking through problems or processes is part of metacognition. You can record yourself as you talk a loud and then play back and listen to your thinking and process and learn from it what you might need to change. It’s a way to hear yourself a loud rather than assume you know what you were thinking.
It’s important to take the mindset of “practicing” and enjoy the process of learning and advancing in your life and skills. You need to do a lot of “practicing” so you can “perfect” your skills. You don’t just “learn the skill” one time cognitively and then it’s perfect; learning doesn’t happen like that – it requires practice.
And, thinking about your thinking creates perspective and allows you to move from the stuck place of “I can’t” to the proactive space of “how can I?”
Transitioning to meta-affect now…
With meta-affect, which is the ability to monitor your own feelings and emotions, it can lead you to greater self-management or self-regulation success across many areas of life. When you engage with meta-affect, you
· Actively think about and feel into which feelings can help you get moving
· How you should use those feelings to get you in the mood to get going
· How you can review your progress
· Whether you need to adjust your feelings to access different feelings
Before you can do these things, you need to ask yourself certain questions along the way such as:
· What is my feeling goal?
· What do I expect that feeling to do for me?
· How am I going to access that feeling?
· How will I double-check that I have the right feeling?
· What do I know about my feelings and how they activate or motivate me?
· Can I learn how to apply my feelings to many different situations in my life by choice rather than living by default feelings?
Your brain and emotions require “explicit or clear instructions” in order to access the exact feelings you need for your situations. You have to choose, experience, review, choose, experience, review and so on, until you finally find the feelings that work best for you for what you want to achieve. Perseverance and creativity are extremely important when you’re monitoring your feelings and experiences. And mistakes are absolutely necessary and don’t represent failure but rather the opportunity to learn and grow and make better choices each time.
Some important points about feelings and learning:
· “How” you learn about your feelings is just as important as “what” you learn; be kind with yourself
· Set your “goal”, which is the direction you want to go and what you want to “feel like” to get yourself moving and monitor your progress toward that goal.
· Remember to fully step into the feeling, and immerse yourself in it, to understand if it is the best feeling for the situation or not. And notice how a change of context can change the experience you have with that feeling.
· Play with foresight development by imagining or predicting what you might feel if you access a certain feeling or talk yourself through feeling that feeling and notice how you feel.
· Use hindsight to reflect on your successes or failed attempts. How did you accomplish the successful access of your feelings? How did you select the best feeling for the situation? How did you manage to choose the wrong feeling for the situation?
· Expand what you are learning about yourself and your feelings to other situations; such as how monitoring and managing your stress in one situation might come in handy in another situation.
Some points about becoming more meta-affective:
· First understand that meta-affect is you thinking about and feeling about your feelings, so you can improve your affect or feeling life and consciously choose the feelings that will help you “feel like” doing things when you want to do them.
· Remember that you are the meaning maker of your feelings, as well as your thoughts; be sure to make meanings of your feelings that support you.
· Again, you are also the driver of your destiny, since you are the one who is taking you where you want to go, whether this is with your thinking or your feelings. You need to learn when to put on the brakes (slow down your feelings so you can really understand them and even ask yourself questions) and when to excel (and keep yourself moving forward with the right feelings driving you) so you can advance toward your goal.
· Talking through your feelings is also part of meta-affect. You can record yourself as you talk a loud about your feelings, how you feel with them and about them, and then play it back and listen to what you felt, so you can learn from that information and change whatever might need to be changed.
And as with metacognition, it’s important to take the mindset of “practicing” and enjoy the process of learning and advancing in your life and skills. You need to do a lot of “practicing” so you can “perfect” your skills. You don’t just “learn the skill” one time with your feelings and then it’s perfect; learning doesn’t happen like that.
Thinking and having feelings about your feelings creates perspective and allows you to move from the stuck space of “I can’t” to the proactive space of “how can I?”
Today’s episode is all about understanding that you are a feeling driven person and need to build up a library of feelings to help you “feel like” doing what you need to do, when you need to do it. You’ll need different feelings for different tasks to get the job done and enjoy the process.
How much time do we have? Not much. So let’s get to it.
Now back to being an adult with ADHD and Executive Function Deficits in today’s world and our focus on the need to “feel it” to do it.
I want to say one more thing about “going meta” before I move on. That is, instead of thinking that other people, places or things have the power over you, and saying things like “organizing my desk makes me anxious”, ask yourself, what is it about organizing your desk that makes you feel anxiety and what can you do to change that? Another example could be you saying “socializing makes me anxious” and instead ask yourself what is it about socializing that makes you anxious and what can you do to change that? It’s not the thing or the situation that makes you feel anxious; it’s what you are thinking and the meaning you are giving to those situations that is making you anxious. When you learn that you have the power to change what is making you anxious, that is an amazing WIN!!
So I have a story to share with you…
Let me introduce you to Stan. He has never felt like doing anything in his life, even as a kid, and has always required ultimatums and a strong push from other people before he would get moving on something. It didn’t matter whether it was something he really wanted to do or something he had to do; he just didn’t “feel like” doing anything. Once he got into motion and involved in the activity, he would enjoy himself. However, by the next day when there were more things to do or enjoy, he again wouldn’t feel like doing anything.
Now we could look at this and say that Stan was depressed because those who suffer from chronic depression, even low-grade chronic depression, often don’t feel like doing anything. However, this is not Stan’s reason. He literally didn’t “feel” whatever feeling he expected to feel that would motivate him or activate him to get going and do whatever it was that he wanted to do or needed to do. He had feelings, but not the feelings that he expected to have or needed to have, that would get him going or cue him to get going, and so he didn’t get going. This was very confusing to Stan, as well as to his family when he was a kid, and to his friends, as he got older.
It was also confusing and a definite problem for Stan at his place of work. He worked independently and was part of a team at his company. As part of the team, he was able to get himself moving and get things done because he piggybacked off of the energy and connections with his co-workers and team members. However, when it came to getting his work done independently, this was where the problems were. He knew what tasks he needed to do and had the skills to do those tasks. However, he never got the feeling he was looking for, that caused him to “feel like” doing the tasks, and so he didn’t do them until someone told him that he had to get it done right away or there would be problems for him. That feeling got him moving (however, it was not a good feeling), and certainly not the feeling that he was looking for to get going on his own.
Some Background Information:
· We have all had many different feelings over the course of our respective lifetimes. And one of the amazing abilities that we have is to associate back into a feeling almost immediately by some cue or trigger that allows us access to that feeling.
· Often times many of us get cued or triggered into a negative feeling because of unresolved issues connected with that feeling.
· Or, we get cued or triggered into a positive feeling because we hear a song that takes us back in time to when and where we first or last heard that song.
· These are ways that are “out of our control” so to speak, that we get to another feeling. However, what I am talking about is intentionally or purposefully cuing up or accessing a feeling that we want to have, at the time we want to have it, because it will be useful to us to get going on something because we “feel like it.”
· Do you know what you need to “feel like” in order to do something you either need or want to do?
· Does the feeling you need to feel vary according to what the task or situation is?
· Have you ever tried to access a feeling you wanted or needed at the time you needed or wanted it? Were you successful? Do you recall how you did that?
Some action steps that you can take to start learning how to access feelings and build up your “emotional library of feelings” for when you will want or need them in the future are:
· Think about the strong feelings you have experienced in your life that move you into action and make a list of them. Are they positive or negative? Note that as well.
· Take those strong, positive feelings you listed and practice seeing which ones you can most easily and quickly access. To access them, you might need to remember the feeling, remember the situation in which you had the feeling, remember what you loved about having that feeling, or things like that. Perhaps you have your own method for re-accessing your feelings.
· What I am suggesting that you do is access as many strong, positive feelings as you can to put into what I call your “emotional library of feelings.” And just like with a library, where you take a book out on loan, I am suggesting that you have feelings ready and available to you that you can “take out on loan” for the situations you encounter in your life. It’s great to have feelings to access that will help you “feel like” you are calmer, “feel like” you are motivated, “feel like” you are focused and so on. I think you get the point.
I have lots of feelings in my “library of feelings” that help me to “feel like” I want to get moving when I wake up in the morning and just don’t “feel it.” I know that I am not a victim of the feelings I wake up with and can swap out my feelings, as needed, so I can feel whatever feeling I need to feel to “feel like it” and get things done. It’s a very powerful position to be in.
And, please remember that I wasn’t born knowing all of this information or the executive function skills that I’ve learned over the years to move myself from stuck to unstoppable, and neither were you. However, so long as you are “teachable,” and willing to be a student of your own life, you can learn the skills you need to learn.
I also want you to remember that you are NOT what you do or don’t do; you are more than that. WE are NOT defective or less than as people – as human beings; we’re just wired differently and the difference doesn’t have to be a limitation once you know what you need for your own success. Even if you’ve never accessed feelings on your own or don’t fully understand what I have shared here today, that doesn’t take away from the fact that you are still not a broken or defective person. It just means you have things that you can learn, if you choose to, just like I did.
It wouldn’t be a complete episode if I didn’t ask you about your WINS and encourage you to acknowledge them and celebrate them, so that’s what we’ll do now. I generally ask you about just one thing that’s gone right or is right with you, and I’d like to encourage you to look for more than just one WIN right now. The more I pay attention to the concept of WINS, the more WINS of my own I become aware of. I also experience a lot of gratitude when I celebrate my WINS. Do you? I hope so.
Unless this is your first time listening to my show, you’ve heard lots of examples of what I consider WINS, and I’d like you to take a moment and think about ALL the things that have gone right for you or with you today. If you’re breathing on your own today, that’s a WIN. If you have at least one person or living being in your life you consider a friend, that’s a WIN. If you have your health, that’s a WIN. If you have choices you’re allowed to make, that’s a WIN. If you have strengths and abilities you recognize as such, that’s a WIN. If you’re a good friend to those who call you friend, that’s certainly a WIN. You get the picture; there’s a lot to be grateful for every day and to me these are WINS. So whatever you choose to reflect on right now is up to you; and I’d love it if you’d take a moment right now and think about some of the things that you’re grateful for that are WINS for you. That’s right. I know it doesn’t take away all the challenges you also have in your life right now; I get that, I do. However, with a shift in your focus and attitude so many more good things can happen. Whatever really challenging circumstances exist in your life right now doesn’t take away from the fact that you have things to be grateful for and WINS to celebrate. You are a precious child of the universe; and are called a “human being” not a “human doing” for good reason. You don’t have to earn your value; you were born with it. You’re value comes from “who” you are; not what you do. Got it? I hope so because it can make a world of difference.
A Favorite Quote:
An anonymous quote says, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” To me this is quite fitting for today’s topic about not waiting to “feel like it” but borrowing the feeling you need to feel so you can “feel like it.” So, the question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “Will you take the time to build your “emotional library of feelings” and then learn to access the feeling you need, when you need it, so you can “feel like” doing whatever you need or want to do?” I hope so. It’s so worth it!!!
That’s about it for today’s episode on learning to “feel like it” so you can go into action.
I hope you were able to relate to and benefit from Stan’s story as well as the other information I’ve shared with you today.
It means a lot to me to know that your life is getting a little bit better every time we get together. Listening to each episode is a small action and one way that your life can get “a little bit better” and the more actions you take, the better your life can become. Remember, for things to change and get better for you, YOU have to change – which means you have to take the action steps that will lead you in the direction of your goals.
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