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It’s All About the “SELF”

“Take care of yourself or you won’t be able to take care of others.” “It’s important to take time for yourself.” These well-intended advisements are typically associated with physical or mental health. It is important to realize that there are many other aspects of “self” which contribute to our ability to become productive, successful, confident and happy. As children grow into adolescents, and eventually adulthood, many of these abilities develop naturally; however, it’s never too early to start encouraging and supporting development in each of the areas below. Be sure you prioritize not only health and well-being, but also each area of “self” for the best possible outcomes. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but rather a few thoughts to get your brain juices flowing. I thought putting the “self” spin on things would be fun. I realize many are not technical terms, and I could have gone on and on, but you get the idea. One last note; in my work with supporting the development of executive functions skills, everything can be connected to this idea of “self.” These key areas are critical and greatly influence not only day-to-day life/functioning, but also lasting skills and success: Activation, Focus, Effort, Emotion, Memory, Action. You will see how our areas of self incorporate/speak to each of these below. Enjoy! Self Motivation – Motivation is a powerful tool for success. People who believe in themselves and have confidence in their own abilities are better able to stay motivated. Sometimes, however, other factors get in the way.
  • Focus on a sense of purpose and direction and confidently go for it
  • Formulate clear ideas about what you want or need, and communicate these to others
  • Get out of your comfort zone and learn new skills
  • Recognize the occasional need for external motivators and implement/apply when needed
  • Create deadlines and accountability structures
  • Use self-rewarding strategies if this works for you
  • Make associations…what can you associate with the last time you felt motivated or productive? Use this to your advantage
Self Esteem – Those with high self-esteem have confidence in their own abilities and recognize what they’re good at.
  • Strive for improvement and personal success
  • Don’t waste time indulging in negative self-talk
  • Remember to feel worthy of love and approval
  • Learn from your mistakes and move on
  • Figure out what you’re great at and accept what you’re not so good at
  • Make a Compliments and Accomplishments list (a list of compliments you have received and accomplishments you have achieved), and update/reference regularly
Self Management and Self Regulation – In order to independently complete tasks, students must take an active role in monitoring and reinforcing their own behavior. Learn to recognize when off track, call yourself out, and use strategies to refocus so you can get back on track with your tasks and goals.
  • Take responsibility for your own actions and don’t look to others for approval
  • Recognize what is appropriate and adjust accordingly
  • Find solutions, and manage emotions and behaviors to reach desired outcomes
  • Have an efficient time management strategy in place
  • Break large tasks into smaller ones so that it’s easier to manage these
Self Assessment – Regularly check in with yourself to determine if you need to make adjustments.
  • Regularly revisit goals you have set for yourself
  • Create lists of what success looks like, and rate yourself and your progress
  • Be honest
Self Awareness – Develop an understanding of who you are, how you think and work, and where you fall with regard to your own expectations and goals.
  • Get an idea of what it takes to meet an expectation
  • Look at other examples, final products, peers or others to give you perspective and direction in identifying where you fall so you can better make choices moving forward
Self Care – We mentioned the importance of general health and well-being. This is an integral part of life management.
  • Get some exercise every day
  • Make sleep a priority
  • Pay attention to nutrition
  • Find ways to manage stress; try yoga or easy meditation and mindfulness strategies
  • Enlist help when needed
  • Make time for this; it’s hard to do, but you have much to gain
Self Advocacy – Learning to develop this skill is a challenge for many, but it means being able to clearly state or request your needs or thoughts to move in the direction of your choice.
  • Follow up and follow through
  • Speak up for yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • Use a sticky note to jot down ideas and questions when heading into a meeting or making a request
  • Plan it out and play it out; this often helps prepare us better
Self Acceptance and Acknowledgement – Giving credit where credit is due and learning to accept and own your strengths and weaknesses removes a great deal of stress and internal conflict (not to mention self-doubt).
  • List your strengths, then list your perceived weaknesses – now create a “which means” after each weakness (and carry out farther…”which means”…”which means”…) if needed so you can resolve to accept these weaknesses for what they are and begin to appreciate your strengths
  • Consider and plan for how to maximize using your strengths to your advantage and accounting for weaknesses
Self Determination – Being determined helps with sustaining your efforts once initiated.
  • Find advice, tips, and motivational quotes to coach yourself
  • Get creative and don’t be afraid to do things
  • differently
  • Create vision boards
  • Draw out final product so you know where you are headed, and it becomes more concrete and achievable
Self Actualization – This involves fulfilling your potential and becoming all that you can be.
  • Here is where the action is
  • You have done a lot of planning, now give yourself a deadline and make it happen.
  • Consider – what will it look like when I am done? how will it feel?
Self Reliance – in the end, you are responsible for your own self; your thoughts, your choices and your actions.
  • Find some guiding statements you can identify with
  • Make a list of what it will take to become more independent, and where you might need help
Self Trust – trust your choices.
  • Sometimes you are going to make mistakes; they happen for a reason
  • Play out the scenario when making choices, and come to terms with the possible outcomes
  • Remember that you can always make changes later to adjust
Self Humiliation – Did you think I meant humility? No. Really, I do mean humiliation.
  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there; let down your guard
  • Make a fool of yourself sometimes for the sake of a good laugh
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously- life is serious enough
Self Talk – A strategy not given enough credit. Speak to yourself aloud or in your head.
  • Create mantras or mottos you can repeat in your mind
  • Use this process to talk through a problem or walk yourself through a process
  • View this as coaching yourself – any difficult or emotional situations can be improved with the right words
Self Generation – This is how we produce from within ourselves. A common struggle for many (particularly those with EF difficulties) is the generation of new ideas and being able to problem solve. Make it a priority to learn to develop this skill, and find strategies you can rely on if problem solving or generation of solutions, ideas and processes are difficult. Also, recognize when you can do this for yourself and when you need a plan or help.
  • Create a master list of what to do when you are stuck
  • Write if-then plans (If _____ situation arises, I can ______.) for a variety of potential situations (ie. “I don’t know what is even needed to begin planning this party” or “I don’t know which college to choose or how to compare them or where to begin” or “I am overwhelmed and want to quit because I have no ideas”)
  • Create a list of people who can help direct you in various areas, rely on their help, and create a step by step plan for the next time that type of situation arises so you can try it on your own next time
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