Dear young Dyslexic,

In my last blog, I discussed some of the ways children with dyslexia deal with their stress and school failure. However in adulthood, these coping mechanisms become very destructive. Their effectiveness in the school environment cause these behaviors to become ingrained habits that can feel like safe strategies when dealing with conflicts. After all, they have worked in the past.

Playing the victim is a dead-end. Other people resent victims and it is hard to respect yourself when you’re playing on others' sympathies. Furthermore, you lose touch with the real power and competencies that you possess.

Everyone loves a clown. However, we do not to take clowns seriously (except in Stephen King novels). If you are always joking, others may feel that you are being manipulated. Finally, it is easy to develop an expectation that you will always be happy and fun. No one feels happy all the time. It is hard enough to be true to our genuine selves without feeling an obligation to entertain people.

Flying under the radar may be the hardest habit to break. If one becomes good at it, it works so well that it becomes an unconscious way of presenting oneself. However, it takes a toll. People discount us and others may often take credit for our work. Furthermore, when our goal is to hide, we never learn to advocate for or promote ourselves.

Unfortunately, changing these habits is very difficult. First, very often these habits are unconscious. We have been doing them for so long, we are not aware when we use them. Furthermore, they work! After years of having these skills shield you from embarrassing situations, it is hard to give them up. Years of failure and using these skills imprint feelings of helplessness. It feels terrifying not to fall back on these old friends. In my next blog, I will go into ways to change these old patterns.

Until then, be well and make a bit of noise.

Michael Ryan