The Neurodivergent Brain, Forgetfulness: Forget the Shame and Embarrassment 

Forgetting things, even minor ones, can be aggravating, if not downright infuriating. Failure to remember minor details can ruin your day or week. Relationships can be negatively impacted by forgetting things. Communication is a complex skill, and forgetting what you have said or saying things inaccurately can be embarrassing or cause unnecessary social challenges. We all have a lot on our plate, and sometimes forgetfulness slows us down and causes us to work inefficiently. (I can’t count the hours I have lost spent trying to remember specific logins, passwords, or websites.)

People who are neurodiverse, such as those with ADHD or autism, may face unique challenges with forgetfulness; it is all part of that set of skills we call Executive Functioning. These challenges can range from difficulty focusing for extended periods of time to difficulty completing tasks in a timely manner or simply being unable to keep thoughts together. It can be challenging to manage these issues, but there are some strategies that can help. This post will look at tips for managing forgetfulness in ADHD.

1. Memory Exercises

There are no more creative brains than that of the neurodivergent. So, let’s use that creativity to bridge the gap to this forgetfulness deficit.

Memory exercises give your mind something to concentrate on. They also serve as a foundation for your memory recall.

For example, by drawing or creating a vivid picture of what you want to remember, you provide your mind with a visual anchor for the memory. This way, you’re not just trying to remember something out of thin air, but you can reflect on the drawing to bring you back to what you need to remember. If you need something more, find a way to incorporate a subtle, tangible reminder.

Let’s say, like a fool, I keep forgetting how many planets are in Star Wars Jedi Survivor. I might think to myself, 7 planets, seven rhymes with heaven while visualizing the galactic scene. Suppose I plan to share my mad Star Wars Jedi Survivor trivia skills in an upcoming conversation. In that case, I might take the time to doodle 7 small stars as a prompt lest I forget and humiliate myself by suggesting that there are only 6. This is where the creativity comes in handy!

These types of exercises can help you deal with the ever-so-common plague of forgetfulness. Other memory exercises may include mnemonic devices such as an acronym, in which the letters of a specific word represent different words in a phrase. As a memory exercise, you could even write a song or a story.

Memory exercises can be entertaining distractions. They can also be powerful tools for resolving forgetfulness and increase the confidence that can get smacked down from time to time when forgetfulness has made itself too frequent a visitor.

2. Let Others Know

You may feel as if your Executive function challenges and forgetfulness are a burden on you sometimes. You may not want to share your forgetfulness with others because you don’t want to add to their burden.

However, by informing others about your struggles, you can have them assist you in remembering important things. It’s OK to admit to others that you occasionally struggle with forgetfulness. Your coworkers, family, and friends will be sympathetic.

After all, we each have our own flaws. When we keep this struggle to ourselves, people may jump to conclusions and assume we did not attend an important event on purpose, that our errors are out of carelessness, or draw other unfair and inaccurate perceptions.

Those close to you will gladly remind you of things and give you some prompts when needed. You will be surprised at the compassion others will show you.

3. Make Use of Calendars and Reminders

Understanding how the neurodivergent brain works is crucial to understanding why forgetfulness is such a common struggle. Many things can be difficult or challenging when you have this kind of brain. Calendars or electronic reminders. Calendars, whether printed or electronic, can be an excellent tool for serving as a daily reminder of upcoming events. Email calendars with built-in reminders can be especially useful.

Make it a habit to schedule all meetings, events, and important dates in your calendar. Set a reminder on your phone or email so that you will be reminded whether you remember or not.

In our modern world, where we all have a computer nearby or on us almost 24 hours a day, many great tools are available in the form of phone and internet apps.

I regularly remind myself, “My brain is for having ideas, not holding them!” So, find a way to outsource that need.

4. Accept You Limitations

None of us can do everything. We are all limited in some way. Living with forgetfulness is only one limitation for many neurodivergent people. Rather than denying your limitations, embrace them. Rather than feeling shame and guilt, remind yourself that this small struggle you face does not define you.

Accepting that you will never have a perfect memory will help you overcome the stress and pressure, we place on yourself by constantly trying and failing to remember things. Neurodiverse or not, it is completely normal to forget from time to time.

We all need more positive things in our lives. Accepting your limitations can help you raise your self-esteem every day, which reduces stress and improves your health and wellbeing. Accepting limitations, on the other hand, results in constant anxiety.

You stress your mind and body by constantly worrying about what you might have forgotten. Stress causes far more problems than simply forgetfulness, which brings us to our final point.

5. Let go of the Stress

Stress adds unnecessary complications and distractions to your life. As if you didn’t have enough on your plate already. Besides that, stress can exacerbate executive functioning issues and forgetfulness.

Chronic stress, according to studies, can impair memory. Because stress and memory are mental processes, it stands to reason that stress would affect memory.

Find ways to de-stress your day to improve your memory and overall wellbeing. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, schedule breaks to get away and reset. Learn how to manage stress so you can worry less and find more peace throughout the day.

With less stress on your mind, you can concentrate more on what is going on around you. Less stress clears your mind, allowing you to organize your thoughts and limit distractions. Less stress may help you build memory tools to help you better deal with forgetfulness over time.

Build an Inventory of Tools to Tackle Forgetfulness

The obnoxiousness of forgetfulness does not have to define you. Sure, you have trouble remembering seemingly insignificant details on a daily basis. However, this does not have to define who you are as a person.

Your incredible brain serves you well in so many ways; it deserves to be celebrated. You are more than your flaws. We are all limited in some way. Accept that you will frequently forget things. After accepting this, work on using the tools and tips presented here to begin building your memory tool inventory today.

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