The key to life is reframing. Not really— but it is a useful self-coaching skill.
For neurodivergent folks, the opinions we hold about ourselves are often shaped by external voices. By the time we are adults, we have a collection of stories influencing how we move in the world. In reframing, we identify those perspectives and get curious to expand our understanding of the situation and the players.
Perspective work is a foundation of coaching neurodivergent folks because navigating life based on incomplete stories can lead to shame and burnout.
Perspectives are opinions.
Here is a loose guide to exploring perspectives.
1. Identify a memory or story that you want to revisit. It can be anything. All memories have perspectives that may or may not be helpful.
Tips for reconnecting with the story:
You can journal or mind map a memory with branches based on the parts of a story (characters, setting, plot, conflict, resolution). If you're a verbal processor, you can use dictation tools, like www.otter.ai, or the built-in voice or video recorder on any device.
Telling your story to someone else while recording it is another great way to bring it forward. If you do this, be sure to tell them you're just looking for them to witness, not for advice or input.
2. Read or listen to your story without judgment.
3. Notice the perspectives that arise.
What's your opinion of yourself in the story? ... of others?
What did you need? What did you get? What did you not get?
What's your perspective of the story?
Perspectives may be actual statements in your story. Look for statements of fact about yourself, the scenario, or others. For example,"I knew I could never do it... be good enough... make them understand," "They never..." Absolutes, like always and never, often indicate a perspective worth exploring.
4. Try a new perspective.
How does the old perspective serve you?
How does it get in your way?
What strengths do you notice in the story?
What are some other possible perspectives?
Trying on new perspectives is about seeing the story from a different angle or point of view. It doesn't have to be plausible or likely, just another potential meaning or "hot take" on what you noticed. Sometimes it's helpful to list all the possible perspectives, even ridiculous or outlandish ones.
5. What is your perspective now?
Try retelling the story from this new vantage point.
Our stories are never a final copy. Throughout our lives, we will recall details of past experiences that influence our story and shift our perspectives.
For ADHD, Autistic, and other neurodivergent folks, challenging these perspectives can feel scary, but it doesn't have to be. Take it one perspective at a time. The result could be a subtle shift in how you view yourself that empowers you.
This process has a powerful influence on our ability to heal, build self-trust, problem-solve, design strategies, and partner with ourselves in a meaningful way.
What's a new perspective you've gained recently?
How has your view of being neurodivergent changed over time?