Meet The Podcast Hosts!

The Divergent Conversations Podcast is hosted by Patrick Casale and Dr. Megan Anna Neff, two AuDHD mental health professionals and entrepreneurs, as well as features other well-known leaders in the mental health, neurodivergent, and neurodivergent-affirming community. Listeners know, like, and trust the content and professionals on this podcast, so when they hear a recommendation on the podcast, they take action.

ALL PODCAST EPISODES

Episode 31: Releasing Expectations Around The Neurodivergent Holiday Experience

Dec 25, 2023
Divergent Conversations Podcast

Show Notes

There are a lot of different opinions and feelings about the neurodivergent experience during the holiday season. The reality is that they will be vastly different for each individual, and there isn’t a right way to experience the holidays.

In this episode, Patrick Casale and Dr. Megan Anna Neff, two AuDHD mental health professionals, dive into the complexities of navigating the holiday season as neurodivergent individuals, offering valuable strategies for managing stress, setting boundaries, and finding moments of connection.

Top 3 reasons to listen to the entire episode:

  1. Understand the challenges of masking or unmasking publicly and at holiday events, as well as the importance of setting boundaries to protect one's energy and sensory needs during gatherings.
  2. Identify strategies for managing stress and anxiety during the holiday season, including ways to do self-care and prioritize value-based activities. 
  3. Learn how to release expectations, find compromise, and create moments of joy and connection that result in more meaningful personal experiences in cross-neurotype relationships and prioritize well-being for every neurotype.

We all have different likes and dislikes, as well as perceptions and experiences, so do your best to release any expectations around how you should experience and feel about the holiday season, and try to create an environment and experience that honors your unique wants and needs. 

Resources:

One of Dr. Neff’s first blog posts ever written was on navigating their first holiday season after the discovery that they were Autistic, so if you want some more Autistic holiday musings here you go:

 


A Thanks to Our Sponsor, Gifted Learning Lab!

✨ Gifted Learning Lab:

We would love to thank Gifted Learning Lab for sponsoring this episode.

If you’re raising a bright neurodivergent kid and you’d like to feel more confident and less stressed as a parent, you can get free parenting resources and supportive coaching from The Gifted Learning Lab and Dr. Danika Maddocks. The Gifted Learning Lab is designed for parents of emotionally intense or sensitive gifted and twice-exceptional kids and teens, including those who are autistic, PDAers, ADHDers, or otherwise neurodivergent. 

Danika is a former gifted kid and a late-identified autistic who combines intuition, compassion, and humor with practical strategies that help you build a calmer and more connected family life. She has supported twice-exceptional kids and families for over a dozen years as a teacher, therapist, award-winning researcher, and parent coach. 

If you’ve tried other parenting advice without success, The Gifted Learning Lab might be right for you - all the ideas and strategies are tailored to the strengths, needs, and characteristics of intense gifted and twice-exceptional kids. Danika helps you understand your kid’s intensity from the inside out so you can connect with your child during tough moments and know what they need to thrive. 

You’ll learn to work with your child’s brain and you’ll feel more confident letting go of traditional parenting approaches that aren’t a good fit for your child or yourself. If you’re also neurodivergent yourself, you can use many of the strategies and tools from The Gifted Learning Lab to bring more ease and compassion to your own life too.

Right now, The Gifted Learning Lab is offering a free email mini course to help you defuse and prevent power struggles with your gifted or twice-exceptional kid - in an affirming, supportive way. If you feel stuck in endless negotiations or arguments, check out the free power struggles mini course at www.giftedlearninglab.com/power.

 


Transcript

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, so it is like a couple of days before Thanksgiving. It's like super dreary and raining outside here in Asheville, and you're sick. And the holidays are coming up. So, I think we wanted to talk about at least a lot of the major American holidays that are coming up. So, I think we want to talk about just neurodivergence, and holidays, and how to navigate them, and how to protect yourself and safeguard your own energy and mental well-being.

MEGAN NEFF: Absolutely. Yeah, it's complex, isn't it?

PATRICK CASALE: It's hard. I think, regardless of whether you are neurodivergent, neurotypical, I think the holidays are hard for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons. And I think they can bring up a lot of emotion, I think they can bring up a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety, a lot of dread. I think they bring up a lot of almost like, for those of you who are high maskers, having to perform, or show up a certain way, and act as if like you feel a certain way about being there. So, yeah. I think [CROSSTALK 00:01:06].

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah. Absolutely. And then the guilt of feeling a certain way about being there. Like, if you don't enjoy it, but all of the shoulds, "I should enjoy this." Yeah.

Yeah, the combination of like, the cultural pressure of like, this is the happiest time of year. Like, time to connect with family and X, Y, Z, and then the internal experience, if that's not your experience, yeah.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, and I think it's further complicated when you might, you know, be neurodivergent and you might be struggling internally if you, especially, have not discussed outwardly or publicly with family, friends, colleagues, whoever you might spend holiday time with.

And I also think there's complications that may arise if you are unmasking publicly at a holiday event, or if you recently talked about it publicly, and then your family or friends or whoever have a million questions about your experiences feels like hell.

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, like to have private conversations, but not in a private setting.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, exactly. Sorry [CROSSTALK 00:02:16]-

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, so we want to talk about strategies, we want to validate those of you who are like, "I hate the holiday season in general. Like, I don't participate, I don't have people to spend time with. I don't look forward to them." Like, society throws this message in our faces of how we're supposed to perform and how we're supposed to feel.

So, I get that, and I'm definitely one of those people. I don't enjoy the holiday season, never have, never will, don't look forward to it, dread it, can't wait till it's over. How about you?

MEGAN NEFF: I actually like it.

PATRICK CASALE: Okay.

MEGAN NEFF: But I haven't always… you weren't expecting that, I know. I haven't always liked it. But I think in the last few years, so I definitely didn't like it before. In the last few years, once we've understand our family and our family needs, like we've taken a pretty serious to have like a cozy, comfortable holiday season, like the four of us. So, things kind of actually slowed down. Now that's definitely not always been the case. I think, discovering we used to travel and that was horrific, that was so terrible. I do not recommend traveling while neurodivergent with neurodivergent children during holiday season.

So, I don't enjoy… So, like this week in the US is Thanksgiving for folks who still celebrate the holiday that I think we should probably stop celebrating. That's another episode, but like that, I've always, always disliked, because it's like you go into a room, there's lots of people, it's kind of fancy, there's a lot of smells. Like, I've always really disliked that holiday.

But again, this family, like the four of us are going to hang out and partly complicating factors, which most people just aren't thinking about anymore, but like exposure. Like, to go to a large family gathering, COVID, when I get it and my daughter gets it, it knocks us out. And so I'm still thinking about exposure, which a lot of folks I realize aren't, so there's that.

PATRICK CASALE: It's a good point, you know, because I know you've been battling long COVID. So, for those of us who, you know, we did that episode on chronic health and just illness in general with Mel, and I think that's another factor. Yeah, I mean, this episode is not going to come out before Thanksgiving, but like talk about sensory hell well, walking into a massive busy room with, like, all the smells, all the things, all the textures, like all the people. It can be so overwhelming so quickly. And I myself am also looking forward to just being at home with my wife. My dad's coming up today. And that is it. And we are not doing anything. And that feels pretty perfect to me.

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, yeah, absolutely, yeah. And so I think when we can lean into the comfort of the season it can be nice. Like, for Christmas season, you know, I love the smell of pine or for whatever that fresh tree smell is. I love the twinkly lights, not the bright lights. I love hot chocolate and like warm fuzzy blankets. So, I think when I can lean into the smallness of the holiday, and release the pressures of making it big, I've actually been able to enjoy the season. But most people can't release those pressures of the big and I definitely did enjoy it before I could do that.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I agree with you. Myself, you know, I celebrate Christmas, but like, it's only because my wife does. I'm Jewish but like, not by religion, but by ancestry. So, I would err on the side of like, not giving a shit about any of it. It feels so commercialized like all around. For me it's very much like my autistic side where I'm like, this feels wrong, this feels like black and white to me. I don't enjoy any of this. It feels like… what's the word I'm looking for? Not commercial, again, that's what I already said. But it feels so capitalist, you know? Like, the whole cycle of it.

So, like, for me, I just want it to be over. I know my wife enjoys it. So, I think that's another challenge when we've talked about cross-neurotype partnerships and different needs, in general, as human beings. Like, trying to show up if you do have a partner or a family who want to participate, who are looking at things, and then trying to figure out like, how do I get myself there or at least able to be there?

MEGAN NEFF: So, this is kind of divergent. But are you running a Black Friday sale, because you're a business owner?

PATRICK CASALE: I am not. I hate Black Friday sales, too. Like, I'm just like, I can't do it. What do I do? Like, fit a couple of $100 off a retreat registration or like… it's just not for me?

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, no. Like, it's so interesting speaking of the commodification of this time of year. Like, I always feel so torn of like, everyone in entrepreneur land is like, "You should be prepping for Black Friday for months." And like that just feels, I don't know, I don't have good feelings about it. Think I'm going to put together like a neurodivergent gift guide. But yeah, it's a weird thing as a business owner, the commodification of this season of like, do you lean into that? Do you just like, no.

PATRICK CASALE: I'm one of those people though, like, if it's like, everyone tells me I'm supposed to be doing something I'm not going to do it. That's just always who I am. I didn't watch Game of Thrones for years, because everyone was like, "You have to watch this show. It's amazing." I'm like, "No, this is stupid." And then all of a sudden, I've watched it 60 times on repeat. But yeah, that's been my mentality around basically everything despite whether it impacts me negatively as a business owner or not.

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, yeah. No, I like that, I like that. So, yeah, commodification, I mean, that can be a stress of the holidays, right? Just the financial aspect for people. I think family, like, if anyone has, like, anyone has a dysfunctional family, which most of us to some extent do like the holidays can be hard. But if you have lost someone, like we talked about grief a couple of months ago, holidays can be excruciating, the sensory aspect, the shoulds. Like, yeah, what have we missed? There's a lot of reasons [CROSSTALK 00:09:05]-

PATRICK CASALE: Well, you know, like, struggling with sobriety or if you're struggling with substance use in general, the holidays are typically a time where that's going to ramp up quite a bit. Whether it be for coping, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:09:22], like whether it be for coping, whether it be through navigating loneliness or feelings of I don't feel connected to this or feel like I don't belong. So, you're going to see a lot of that as well.

MEGAN NEFF: Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, for sure, for sure.

PATRICK CASALE: Wondering about like, and you know, also holidays tend to come with like, if you're working, right? For an employer, holiday parties, and get-togethers, and gatherings are situations where you may have to really, you know, figure out a way to either manage that energy, and that boundary, and that sensory overload, and that social expectation for your job's sake, or you may decide like I can't participate in this. And does that have ramifications for my career or for my co-workers and colleagues and I relationships?

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, absolutely. And gosh, yeah, work social events can be really complex to begin with for autistic people, because the context shift and the role shift, but it's not clear. It's like, okay, so at work we don't talk about personal things, but then when we have a holiday party we do, but like, it's still limited. Like, I think, in general, those work social events are really complicated to navigate.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah.

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah.

PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely. And then you're talking about small talk hell once again, never looked forward to those. Always found reasons or excuses to try to get out of them. So, I think it's important to also think about like, okay, we're talking about what the holidays can bring up. Some people may have good association, some negative, etc. But boundary setting, ways to manage some of the stress and anxiety as you're going into a season where you're supposed to feel happy, and joyous, and connected.

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, yeah, because if you're feeling disconnected, it makes it all the more apparent.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, absolutely. And I think it always feels for me, like, "Oh, what's wrong with you? You know, how come you don't look forward to three months of fucking Christmas music going on in [INDISCERNIBLE 00:11:33] that you go to, to go shopping?" I'm just, like, looking forward to Reese's changing the trees, and then eggs, and like all the seasonal Reese's, I'm really excited about that.

But boundary-setting wise, I think it's important to have some strategies so that you can kind of try to set boundaries with family, and friends, and colleagues, as you're going into a couple of month's stretch where you really want to protect your energy, you really want to sensory soothing, you really, maybe don't want to have certain demands placed upon you. So, I think it's important to think about strategies and techniques where you can at least have some of that in place. You know, I know, it's not always possible for you to say like, I'm not going to participate in this, but to the best of our abilities to have some strategies, I think would be ideal.

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, absolutely. And some of it, like back to cross-neurotype relationships, some of it might come back to strategies in like, if someone's partnered with their partner, because I think those are sometimes the hardest conversations of like, one partner really wants to travel to see their family but traveling is really hard for the other. Or just, in general, one partner might want to be doing a lot of holiday events outside the home while that's hard for the other partner. So, I think starting conversations in that partnership, with someone's partner is probably really crucial, especially, if like, one's extroverted and one's introverted or, you know, one likes to be out of the home more.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, absolutely. I think start those conversations, you know, obviously, we're talking like this is going to release probably sometime in December but going into 2024, start those conversations early next year too. Like, be proactive in that communication, because, for us, you know, I've talked about my relationship on here before, my wife has a very large family, they all get together for the holidays. They love it, she looks forward to it. But we've kind of had this like, agreement where for Thanksgiving week we won't go anywhere, we won't go to her family's, we won't go to all the gatherings. But like for Christmas, we'll go for the day so she can see our nieces and nephews unwrap presents.

And like for me, that's a concession I'm totally willing to make. It also allows me to, like, conserve that energy a little bit more then. You know I have to prepare to be on the go all the time.

MEGAN NEFF: Absolutely. So, yeah, like you all have found a compromise that works for you two. Yeah, yeah. I think compromise, the other word that comes to mind is differentiation. Like, I think there's this weird idea that couples always have to do things together. Like, one couple can… like, I get that it's not ideal not to maybe spend the holidays together, but like, one person can travel without the other, one person can go to an event without the other. Yeah, there might be questions but like, we don't have to do everything together just if we're partnered. And I think sometimes we forget that.

PATRICK CASALE: I feel like you've mentioned this like on 10 different episodes now, that exact, like, sentiment of couples do not have to do everything together. So, that could be a whole freaking series, I think, of autistic or just cross-neurotype partnerships and neurodivergent partnerships.

But yeah, I agree, 100%. And finding that compromise, finding that balance, and yeah, there might be some conversations to navigate, but I do think it's probably in the long run better off for everyone all around if they come to that agreement, for sure.

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, yeah. And then I've mentioned this on the podcast before, too, but like, I like to overlay pacing systems. And a pacing system is just like any system that helps you think through how to pace your activity with, like, a value system. So, for me, and for like a lot of neurodivergent parents, yeah, I'm pretty fine not seeing my family during the holidays, but I want my kids to have memories with their cousins. So, like, that's a high value for me.

So, maybe this is confusing, because I use like the light system for both. Like, that's a green light value. Like that's a high value and like a red light activity for me. Like, it takes a ton of energy. But like, I intentionally make that choice. And similar for you to like go see your wife's family.

So, I think, also thinking through both like energy expenditure, but also values, and then figuring… like spending your red light energy expenditures on green light values. Like, you don't want to be spending red light energy on, like, low-value things. That's just not the good use of our energy expenditure.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah.

MEGAN NEFF: So, then, again, figuring out like, what can we drop during the holiday season that's not a high value, but perhaps a high energy cost.

PATRICK CASALE: Agreed 100%. It's a great way of looking at it, and I think prioritizing. And it's kind of doing that cost-benefit analysis, right? Of like, this is worth it to me, but I know it's also going to drain me. So, just having to put the tools in place to mentally prepare for that, and then support your nervous system and your sensory system afterwards however you need to.

I think the one thing that I'm thinking about holiday related, I don't know why, maybe it's just my own dysfunction and family systems, but is like uncomfortable conversations at the dinner table. And I think for those who are like, you know, whether you're new to your diagnosis, and you're talking about it publicly, there might be some scrutiny, there might be questions, there might be, like, maybe even some ableism that comes up and we just did an RSD series, so hell, we certainly can create a whole [INDISCERNIBLE 00:17:31] RSD at these situations.

So, maybe just creating some, like, conversational cue cards for yourself too of like, you know, some [CROSSTALK 00:17:40] some scripts or things like that, that can be helpful for you as well to set those boundaries.

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, I think having scripts kind of pre-thought-out, or boundary scripts is so helpful. Like, actually, I don't want to talk about that here. If you want to talk about that one-on-one, if that's true, if you're happy to talk one-on-one. But having thought through, yeah, how to kind of get out of those sticky situations beforehand can be really helpful.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, absolutely.

MEGAN NEFF: Do you have any like go to, like, well, phrased sentences of that kind of shuts down a conversation?

PATRICK CASALE: I've always been good at like saying like, "Okay, if this conversation is becoming uncomfortable, how can we switch the conversation to something that everyone's interested in talking about?" And that's usually like, "Oh, like, let's talk about the football game that's on TV right now." Or, like, "Let's talk about whatever else, and bring the conversation away from the attention on you and back to some feels more neutral or more common ground for everybody that everyone can participate in." It also, like, takes the pressure off of feeling like the spotlight is just, like, shining on equally and I have now, like, to respond, or communicate, or participate.

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

PATRICK CASALE: Also-

MEGAN NEFF: Okay, I had… Oh, go ahead.

PATRICK CASALE: Sorry, go ahead.

MEGAN NEFF: No, go ahead, I'm kind of changing gears, so…

PATRICK CASALE: I just have the avoidance strategy of just not going so like, that's always [CROSSTALK 00:19:10]-

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I was thinking you're like, I don't really have that experience of avoiding awkward things, because what I do is I shut down when I'm in large sound groups. And it's interesting. My dad who, you know, we've been talking a lot about, he's also a psychologist. So, we've been talking a lot about my neurodivergence last few years, who like, "Yeah, I'll look over the table and it's like you're just not there."

So, I shut down, which like, then I just am kind of listening to everyone else's conversation. And group conversations are really hard for me, which is sometimes evidenced in this podcast. So, I just get really quiet, shut down. What I didn't realize… And it's interesting, my spouse used to like, "Babe, are you okay?" And this was pre-diagnosis. And he'd worry about me. And was just like, "Okay, she's in her little shutdown mode."

But what I didn't realize, I think this isn't perhaps helpful for people, was, you know, that is a stress state and the body needs to release that, the body needs to complete the stress cycle.

When I would go home back when I was drinking, speaking of like drinking holiday season, I would often be like, "I need a drink." Like, after I got home. And now looking back, it's like, okay, my body was in this kind of frozen, immobilized stress state, looking for a way to get out of that stress cycle. Turns out, spoiler, that's not a great way to actually complete the stress cycle.

But just to know, like, even if you're not feeling anxious and agitated, if you're feeling shut down, like, when you're done with those events, your body still needs to release that, whether it's like going on a really grounding walk in the cool air, or like taking a gentle bath. Like, your body needs to do something with that. And I think that's just a helpful thing for people to be aware of during the holiday season.

PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely, 100%. I tend to do that too in group conversations around like a dinner table or something when multiple people are talking at once, where I'm like kind of doing this internally, and I can't focus, or really, like, participate, then I start to shut down, and then I become really quiet. So, yeah, that stress state is definitely real. So, pay attention to that for yourselves and just kind of monitor that. There may not be something you can do in the immediate scene of like, "I can release this right now." But just like Megan said, that great strategies when you are out of that environment, being able to get that stress out of the body, because you certainly don't want that to build up and just because, there are, you know, complications or issues.

MEGAN NEFF: And taking breaks. Like, if someone's spending a long day somewhere, like can you get outside. You know, is outside less than overwhelming, but like the cool air that like just getting fresh air, again, if air quality is fresh.

I'm getting kind of out of… because I think part of it is being in a, you know, like enclosed space with lots of bodies that I know that's part of what's hard for me. So, taking breaks, sensory breaks throughout the day. So, again, so that that stress kind of has a chance to come down so it's not just building, building, building all day, yeah.

PATRICK CASALE: I was always the person that'd be like volunteering to go run errands, you know, if, "Hey, can anyone go pick this thing up?" "Yep, sure. I'll go do it. Like, let me get the hell out of here."

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, yeah.

PATRICK CASALE: So, yeah, putting yourself into situations like that, where you can take a break, get outside.

MEGAN NEFF: I think that's a great reminder, because like, a lot of us want connection, right? And it goes back to, I don't know that we'll release in this order, but last week, we recorded on attachment and belonging, and we want it, a lot of us. It's just, well, I'll speak for me. Like, I want it, it's just hard for me. So, I think finding ways, same for me, it's like, okay, if I can do the dishes, if I can find a way to stay busy, if I can run an errand. Like, are there ways to feel connected to whatever is happening, whether it's with the family or the friend group, but in a way that is more tolerable. So, I love that you like become the errand person.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I do that now, you know, even in retreat settings when I have my partner there, I'm like, "Yeah, I'll go get the food. Like, I'll go do the thing." So, I can kind of like, take, like, a test on myself. Like, where am I at? Just kind of gauge it and reset a little bit to my best of my ability. And that's always been pretty useful. So, I'm just trying to do more of that stuff.

And like, I remember when I was living in New York before I moved to North Carolina, like dating someone whose parents were divorced, my parents were divorced, having to go to four different places in one day, and like-

MEGAN NEFF: Oh my gosh.

PATRICK CASALE: You know, put on the show of like, "Oh, I so want to be here and like can't wait to spend this couple of hours." And I just remember how horribly exhausting, like, all of that was. So, yeah, just identifying ways for you all to ground, regulate, sensory soothe, take breaks, set boundaries, all the things that work for me.

MEGAN NEFF: I would not connect, because I think part of what can be painful about the season for us is sometimes, like, we're seeing other people connect or we're at least seeing on social media the illusion of people connecting, and even in like the movies, the holiday movies. Like, a lot of them are very connection-focused. So, finding ways that, I think, help us feel deeply connected to people in our lives during the season, I think that could be in the kind of holiday self-care bucket if we're putting together a little holiday self-care toolkit.

PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely, agree, 100%. I think connection is paramount. And just finding those ways to connect with one or two people that you can in whichever way that you can, super important.

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, yeah.

PATRICK CASALE: Also, like, the, you know, theme of like, receiving gifts and gift giving, always been a struggle for me. But my wife's doing, like, special interests, like, gift giving for me, and it has changed the way I receive things so drastically, like opening something up and being like, "Oh, I don't know how to react to this." To actually like being pretty genuinely excited or content with, like, some of that stuff. So, that's been a nice thing to have that shift too, because I myself, like, struggle when my reaction isn't what the other person wants it to be.

MEGAN NEFF: Oh, gosh, yeah, that could be a whole thing. Like, yeah, opening gifts in front of people, it's awkward, because there's like this expectation and like, a lot of us don't hide our faces very well, like, if we're disappointed.

I remember early Christmas I had like a response and I was a kid, but I had response to something my aunt gave me, and I very much remember the like, "We don't do that." But now, like, I hate opening gifts in front of people. I get so awkward.

Yeah, gift-giving feels really inefficient to me, especially, again, in my partnership, like we share the same funds. So, I'm like, why would we gamble spending money on something that we don't know if you'll like? So, we actually just buy our own gifts but then wrap them for each other, which I think it's so much more efficient.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I like that strategy.

MEGAN NEFF: Logical, not efficient, logical.

PATRICK CASALE: Okay, it's very logical. Yeah, yeah. We share a joint bank account. So, like, whatever I'm buying you is coming out of the same money, right? Like, yeah, it's a-

MEGAN NEFF: So, don't you want to like it? Like, why would we risk spending money on something that you're not going to like?

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah. And you don't want to hurt the other person's feelings, especially, if you care about them. So, you're like, "Fuck, I hate this gift, but I don't know how to react to this." Yeah, it's a whole thing of, again, it's just holidays are complicated, weird timing, for sure.

And then like, I don't even want to get started on the idea of like, okay, it's about to be the new year. So, new year, new you. Like, [CROSSTALK 00:27:59]-

MEGAN NEFF: Oh my gosh.

PATRICK CASALE: …place like, and I can only start them January 1, 2024. I can't start them anytime other than that, and if I don't-

MEGAN NEFF: Magical day.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah.

MEGAN NEFF: Yeah, yeah. Talk about logic, like, okay, so yeah, I actually do kind of also enjoy the like, it's my ADHD, right? And like, I love challenges. I love novelty. So, I do kind of get excited about New Year resolutions, but I feel embarrassed about it, because I know the issues with it. But I do actually kind of get excited about, like, a point to reflect on the last year and a point to like kind of set intentions of like, what do I want this next year to look like? What do I want the rhythms and the habits to be?

So, again, talk about commodification. I don't love all that happens around that. But I do like the invitation to pause and reflect.

PATRICK CASALE: I agree. I love the pausing and the reflection. I love timelines, in general. Like, I like kind of looking back and zooming out a bit, because I don't feel a sense of like contentment, or pride, or satisfaction, or presence a lot of times in my day-to-day. So, to zoom out, it's like, this feels good. Like, it feels nice to be able to, like, put things in linear order too.

But yeah, I don't love the like, okay, it's the new year, now I'm going to change everything about me and I'm going to do these new things. And like, it's why gym memberships lasts for like a week, and then nobody ever goes back. It's one of those things. I sound really cynical today. And I just realized I just hate the holiday season. And that's just my reality, so…

MEGAN NEFF: You're allowed to have that. I mean, I think that's actually one of the tips I gave, is like release any expectations about, like, how you should feel about this season, right? Whether it's you should like it or… Like, and I think that's perhaps one of the most starting helpful points is just releasing any expectations we have about how we should experience this season.

PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely.

MEGAN NEFF: So, you're modeling that, well done.

PATRICK CASALE: And yeah, I'm just hearing myself out loud. I'm like, "I hate that." That really bothers me.

MEGAN NEFF: Well, maybe you're hearing it because I'm like, usually with you, with all the cynicism, and today I'm like, countering, "I'm like, yeah-

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah [CROSSTALK 00:30:34]-

MEGAN NEFF: …but this is not my experience."

PATRICK CASALE: Right. I like that though.

MEGAN NEFF: When you and I have different experiences on something, weird.

PATRICK CASALE: It is good to highlight that, you know. Not all profiles have to be exactly the same, so…

MEGAN NEFF: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

PATRICK CASALE: I don't know if I have anything else. I can keep talking about this.

MEGAN NEFF: Feel free. I'm also fine. Like, I think a short episode is fine. And feel free to keep talking.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, yeah, I think we talked about everything. I wanted to hit today just kind of, like, being aware of you not feeling well, too. I don't want to drag this out if we don't have to. So, I think everything we talked about is good. For those of you listening, just find the little spots and the little moments that you can embrace or connect to. And I think that it takes a lot of the pressure off of like, this was supposed to feel this way or be experienced this way. Or I was supposed to show up this way and really try to take some of that intense, like, societal expectation off of you if you are in a part of the world right now that's gearing up to celebrate a lot of these holidays that are coming up.

MEGAN NEFF: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

PATRICK CASALE: Okay.

MEGAN NEFF: That's well said, can't add anything, hopeful of that.

PATRICK CASALE: Well, this episode will come out, probably, early December. So, for those of you who are listening, we appreciate it and hope you can kind of just create whatever you need to create in the next couple of weeks too, and take care of yourself.

So, for all of you listening to Divergent Conversations, it's on all major platforms and YouTube. New episodes are out every single Friday. Like, download, subscribe, and share. And, goodbye.

Join Patrick & Dr. Neff's Newsletters

Get more valuable resources and stay up to date on offers.

We will not spam you and you and unsubscribe at any time.

Join the Neurodivergent Insights Newsletter by Dr. Megan Anna Neff.

Learn More

Join the All Things Private Practice Newsletter by Patrick Casale.

Learn More