The Bully in my Brain

How I Tame the Bully in the Brain

People come to see me primarily for help with time management. However, I always forewarn them that for the first couple of hours of Seeing My Time, we don’t even talk about getting things done. Instead, we focus on the brain. We explore how the way the brain is wired affects our behavior and our productivity.

These collective brain processes which control our productivity are called executive functions. One page in the Seeing My Time Workbook shows a brain surrounded by list of executive functioning skills. I have people score themselves on whether or not their brain is strong or weak in each area. The final skill listed is “emotional control”—what I call the “bully in the brain.”

What is the Bully in the Brain?

Our strong emotions, like fear, anger, anxiety, frustration, depression, even love, can dominate our brain, making access to our other executive functioning skills impossible. This makes productivity impossible. Sharing this knowledge can be life-changing. It helps people to understand themselves better. One goal of Seeing My Time is to take this improved self-awareness and use it to create positive behavior change.

I was privileged recently to have a fifth-grader who struggles mightily with a bully in her brain—the emotion of anger. She could be described as having a very short fuse. When I introduced her to the “bully” in her brain we had a way to discuss how she might learn to “talk back” to her brain’s bully. In essence she needed a way to control her brain instead of her brain controlling her.

As she progressed through the course, this girl became more aware of the feeling of confusion that sets off her anger bursts. She learned that confusion is a call for help. Her parents learned to identify her behavior outbursts as calls for help. The whole family unit shifted once the “bully” was identified and could be attended to before she would swing out of control.

Ultimately, managing her bully better led to her being able to use the time-management strategies taught in the course. Home life and school life became easier. Her story is just another example of how teaching executive functioning skills changes lives for the better.

About the Author Marydee Sklar

Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program® and the Set Up Success and Seeing My Time® planners. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.

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