"When you listen to a good story, the brain triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin. In lay terms, this is known as the relationship hormone. . . It's a hormone that orients us with compassion toward another. So it orients us toward collaboration.
Think of that. Listening to a good story actually produces an orientation toward compassion and focus on the other."
Dr. Ronald Fry, Case Western Reserve University - Leading Positive Change Through Appreciative Inquiry
This idea of the stories we tell is important - stories fill our soul’s “cup” (as well as our brain with good chemicals), and we need to consciously look for stories that fill that cup more. But we can also fill that cup with better stories about ourselves.
We can keep an eye out for where we’re making progress on correcting mistakes - they didn’t happen in one fell swoop, and correcting them doesn’t happen overnight. But appreciating how far we’ve come really helps us write a stronger narrative that we can make change. And minor set-backs are not terrible losses; they are stumbles on the journey to get better as a person.
Another side of this: Hal Hershfield’s team found that participants’ brain activity while considering their Future Selves more closely resembled brain activity while thinking about a current other rather than the current self. (Hershfield is a psychologist at the UCLA Anderson School of Management)
Ed Yong, professor at Boston College, wrote that “Empathy depends on your ability to overcome your own perspective, appreciate someone else’s, and step into their shoes. Self-control is essentially the same skill, except that those other shoes belong to your future self—a removed and hypothetical entity who might as well be a different person. So think of self-control as a kind of temporal selflessness. It’s Present You taking a hit to help out Future You.”
We can extend more compassion to another person than we can to ourselves, but when we understand better how our brain is wired differently, we need to see our Future Self as a person who deserves compassion as well.
Understanding that our brain is wired differently can also allow us to know how we are likely going to have problems. If we see our Future Self (who may not remember what Previous Self was thinking when PS did something, because the other 1052 tabs open in our brain were sapping our "bandwidth"), as a separate person who we need to communicate with, just like other people, we can start to make habits that help us better communicate with our Future Self.
This is a new story, one where we’re writing Present Self as empathetic and caring, who sets Future Self up for success. This is also an opportunity to learn how best to communicate with Future Self - to build new skills for success.
I am overwhelmed, I am tired, but I am determined. My children deserve to enjoy the benefits of our ADHD gifts, and so do I.