Don't let the title fool you--I absolutely love being in therapy. Growing up as an undiagnosed Autistic gave me a lot to talk through! But after ten years of talking to many different professionals, my progress slowed to a halt. In particular, I could never figure out why I was always late.
Try, try again?
Once upon a time, I was 10-15 minutes late to work every day, no matter how dire the consequences became. I could never come up with a good enough explanation, and my bosses accused me of being unmotivated. But I cared so much that I worried myself sick! Everyone was full of suggestions and I tried them all. I woke up earlier. I set multiple alarms. I packed my bag the night before. I always put my keys on the same hook. I tried and tried as hard as I could, but every day I failed anyway.
(Thank you Dwight, I know.)
I had tackled so many other problems by getting to their root cause in therapy. It was logical to think I needed the same help for my lateness. So I spent hours talking about it, trying to understand why. Was I some kind of thrill-seeking rebel, getting revenge on my employers and reveling in their frustration?
Nope! Turns out being late all the time was a life coaching problem, not a therapy problem! Luckily, I sought out a new perspective and found Autism Personal Coach. My autism life coach helped me to learn more about my own brain. Looking through the lens of neurodivergence, I realized what was really going on.
Finally, an explanation
As an undiagnosed neurodivergent, I grew up without the dopamine I needed in order to feel motivated. Without realizing it, I had learned to use adrenaline to make up the difference. Being late would force me into a panicked state, which kept me focused and moving in the right direction. I literally depended on panic and adrenaline to get myself out of the house.
My autism life coach helped me to understand how unhealthy it was to be panicking all the time. After all, I only have so much energy each day, and I'd rather use it on something else! So we started working together on a new plan to improve my punctuality as well as my mental state.
Figuring it out
First, my life coach and I took a careful look at my current morning routine. I paid close attention for several mornings, writing down what I actually did with my time. I was surprised to discover that just one crucial moment caused the whole thing to fall apart.
This critical juncture came each day right after I finished breakfast. Now that my bowl was empty, my understimulated mind would start to wander. I'd look at my phone, and suddenly thirty minutes would fly by. After so much soul searching, I had finally found the answer--that boring moment sitting at the table.
Small changes, big results
Thanks to my autism life coach's strategy, I knew exactly what needed to change for my mornings to be successful. I gave myself two simple rules: my phone goes in my work bag and no sitting until I'm in my car. With these two small changes in place, I was able to maintain the focus and momentum I needed to be on my way. Success at last!
Therapy can be an integral tool for overcoming trauma, managing mental health concerns, and gaining resilience. Those efforts can be hugely beneficial for your emotional well-being and help you to live a happier life. But as I found out, they are not very helpful for sensory issues, self-care difficulties, or other needs that come with being neurodivergent.
No matter how dedicated you are to working on yourself in therapy, some things in life just need a different approach. Contact us to start working with your own autism life coach and discover solutions from a new perspective!