all the hype or none at all
hyper focus, flow & are we allowed to be human?
I posted my hyperfocus as a trauma response and how it gets confused with flow piece recently on the socials and it got a lot of people talking - especially on my IG. I think my IG following knows me better there, so it was a very respectful and insightful discussion. On Facebook, I got called names and told my work wasn’t accurate etc… when people didn’t agree. (I’m definitely NOT OK with this, like I’m a fucking human being behind this page. But I’m gonna say a few more bits on this topic anyway).
I wrote that because I wanted us to reflect on when something like hyperfocus goes from supporting us to something that hinders us and why that might be. When I think about it as something that we might go into easily (but often not by choice of either activity or time), but it can keep us stuck, spiralling into an anxious vortex all while denying our own basic needs, all I got were questions.
Why is it like that? Was it always supposed to be like that?
Why is something that can drive us to betray our bodies being sold as an ND strength?
Where did we learn that it was OK to ignore our own needs to the point of agony? Who told us that?
When did we develop that practice and who was it for?
It never sat right with me that something that I kept getting told was a neurodivergent strength would leave my body in tatters and leave me feeling panicked and never really satisfied after. I knew about flow and I realised that this experience was something that hit differently. Flow was about ease, the skill level seemed to match what I could do so I felt more confident, my interest was accounted for. There was no shame or fear attached to flow like I’d eventually feel when I fell into hyperfocus.
To drop into flow quickly felt like something really powerful, but hyperfocus??? I wasn’t so sure. I can drop into flow easily when I write depending on what I’m writing and who it’s for. But at other times, I can also hyperfocus on the message of a post for hours, spiralling into OCD and still not feel great after I’ve done my compulsions and shared it. That leaves me checking and rechecking it hours after it’s been posted. Sometimes I can’t even determine what I’m hyperfocused on and when I’ll stop, which would make me feel even worse.
Those are two different experiences to me.
So, if I could drop into them both so quickly, when and how did it all go wrong? Where did I learn that the urgency to have something completed, to be right, to be perfect, to be enough superseded, the joy, rhythm and ease I could have felt doing the same thing, if only I had been left to work without fear of what would happen if I didn’t complete it as expected?
I don’t think of anything that we do naturally to be a superpower, but I do think that people have unique talents and strengths because we’re human and all humans do. I’d rather be seen in my humanity than having to say things that make me seem better than human because of what I might do naturally that’s different from others. I want us all to be seen in our humanity and it bothers me that so many of us know we can’t be. It bothers me that something that might come as naturally as dropping into flow for many of us, can turn into something that we’re praised for as we ignore our bodies’ needs to the point of discomfort or even harm.
But maybe if we had learned about who we were, how we operated and what we needed to be at our best, we never would have had to experience hyperfocus like this and we could have floated into flow more often. We should never have learned that our potential was connected to being in hyperfocus consistently, but instead learned that it was natural to have time to rest and be taken care of afterwards when we did (rather than feel we need to work ourselves to burnout to make up for all the ways we couldn’t get it right).
We all deserved to experience the fullness of our beings and our humanity in spaces where we felt safe enough to be ourselves. But I think somewhere along our journeys we learned that wasn’t possible. It wasn’t about creativity, exploration, curiosity, ease and flow, but about productivity, urgency and reaching our potential so we could prove that we could be enough. Nothing changes for any of us when we feel we can’t be ourselves and then we’re blamed because of it. What if we were doing the best we could at any given time throughout our lives? What if we learned that our best wasn’t good enough?
Maybe we’d learn to be a bit fearful when we attempted anything that we might not do exactly as expected, within the exact allotted time or precisely as instructed when we did.
I’ve read a lot of comments about hyperfocus, flow and all in between when I posted my initial post. I loved reading all your ideas, insights and thoughts because it helps me further develop my own ideas and beliefs when you do. After all, there is a human behind this page and I’m learning and growing in this life too, like all of you. Thank you for being here.
“...maybe if we had learned about who we were, how we operated and what we needed to be at our best, we never would have had to experience hyperfocus like this and we could have floated into flow more often.” 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯 fuck me this post!!!!!!! Is revelatory alongside heartbreaking and eventually heart healing as in - no, it shines light in hearts that broke long ago & that sunlight of yours sandra is healinggggg Af (slow slow slow down oishi pause breathe break if I can- I need to fucking sit with this. Again. You have answers for me where I didn’t known the questions / had given up long ago tryna formulate em cos I thought it was fantasy and then these drop and I’m like woAh what?!!?! Yesss?!??!? Also how so much nuance so few words - that simplicity you need in life...any chance that sufficiency...I wish I could get a transplant lol slash even prognosis on if that’s on the cards for me because it makes your writing so pleasurable on top of meaningful on top of body brain expanding capacity-ing right?!?!?
And defs more accessible...hmmmm let’s sit with that too!!!! What am I feeling in my body as I type this???? Pause and stop put down that phone or at least close substack for now BBY me!!!! Xxxxx