“I feel like I never finish anything. Good old 80 percent done – What’s wrong with me?” “I know I can do more. Why can’t I live up to what I know I can do?” “Why do I keep doing the same stupid thing? Repeating the same mistake?” Your mutterings are useful and telling. What we say to ourselves, our mind believes.
Mutterings can be a positive influence, too. So mutterings are useful to get all the “stuff” out of your head and figure out what it means.
Because when we repeat phrases like those above, day after day and year after year, it all must be true, right? Positive or negative.
And most of us need to be kinder to ourselves so how do we turn this around?
Many of us talk to ourselves, especially if we work on our own. [Right? don’t we?!] Mutterings are super helpful to understand how we think about our things, our papers, our organization or ourselves.
For example, as noted author, speaker, professional organizer Judith Kolberg says, “It works by tapping into your emotional response to your papers.” [from Judith Kolberg, Kathleen Nadeau, ADD Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life page 178]. Judith founded the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, which focuses on people who think differently and organize differently.
What you say aloud is what you are thinking. When you can get this all outside of your mind and your head, it’s freeing. Not only that, you will organize your things, thoughts and time more easily. You’ll experience less stress and overwhelm with less running around your mind. And your mutterings give you clues about how to deal with what’s facing you as Judith says.
What Are Your Mutterings? Your Self-Talk?
To understand how these are helping or hurting your productivity [and self esteem, motivation, among other things] you’re going to need:
- no judgment
- a notebook or your notes app to keep track of patterns
You’re going to pay attention whenever you talk to yourself. If you’re not talking aloud, go ahead and start. If you work in an office with others, you’ll want to mutter by whispering.
Take down exactly what you say. Don’t try to change anything at first. You’re getting a sense of what’s happening and how your mutterings are doing good or are undermining your intentions.
After a few days, take a look at your whole list. Are there a few common phrases? How positive or negative are the words and phrases? What picture does it give you of the person being described?
How is this impacting your intentions, your actions, your productivity?
Negative Self-Talk: What to Say to Turn it around
In this U.S. News article about negative self-talk, I’ve shared several strategies for ways to turn around the negative self talk. Choose one and try it out for a few days. Notice how you’re feeling and how much more you’re getting done.
Get curious, too; why were you so negative about a particular project or task? What got in your way of getting it done? And what could you do differently next time? What would help you remember this at the right time? Article link is here.
If Your Self-Talk is about Time Management
When you feel more confident in managing your days, a good deal of the negative self-talk will subside. Frustration will be less. You’re likely trying to jam too much into a day, which creates pressure on yourself, more than is reasonable. Do “one less thing” and see how that works.
Remember that whether you have ADHD, or feel like your thinking is more scattered than it used to be, you’re always going to need three parts to managing your time:
- One is the intuitive and/or ADHD friendly system, routine, habit, reminder, or tool. These also work well for big picture thinkers, for creative thinkers, and for people who simply think differently, ADHD or not.
- The second part is to find unique ways which work for your brain to get yourself to remember to use the system, and at the time you need to.
- The third part is to have a backup plan, a Plan B or a safety net. This relieves pressure, because if plan A doesn’t quite work out, you know you’ve already got a backup plan. Without a second option, you feel stuck, unable to move, and can feel hopeless, making it hard to get back on the rails and keep at it.
Remember to mutter – and listen to yourself. No judgment, just listening and curiosity.
- The U.S. News series is wonderful. Access it here.
- The Kolberg/Nadeau “red book:” Learn ADHD friendly time/task/”thing” management strategies. (Below.)
- My own ADHD workbook: Use it self-paced or add in some time with me as your guide/mentor/coach.