Slow is Still a Speed
Written by: Alicia Howell
I have a pre-frontal cortex disability and processing information is slow, frustrating and at times embarrassing. Recognizing the information as important might happen instantly but storing the information to be retrieved later is a lot harder; because it’s slower. Processing information requires creating a path from short term memory to long term memory. What is done, what is heard and what is seen is all stored in different parts of the brain. Short term memory last less than half a minute, and with my slow processing speeds that is not enough time to get the information to its long-term memory destination. Because the information is held up at pre-frontal cortex booking, I must introduce it to the short-term memory multiple times before it can even begin the journey to the long-term memory for storage.
For me, it appears that everyone else’s brain purchased wi-fi, and I only had enough money for dial-up.
I have often felt as though everyone in the room could see the wheels turning while I processed
a conversation or joke. I’ve been embarrassed because I got a witty or insulting remark long after the person walked away.
Slow is a speed; and I try to remind myself of my speeding limit when it comes to the information that I process.
Because not all information that is processed is meant to be comprehended; it is quality not quantity.
Here are a few mindful tips and suggestions that I have created to assist me with making the most of my speed; that could possibly be of use to you or someone you know:
Be present- The brain can do some amazing things, but only in the present moment. The brain
won’t adequately process information right now if it is being over-loaded with past due information from yesterday and anticipated information for tomorrow. If it is comfortable to do
so; take a few breaths. While breathing acknowledge the information/task that are about to be
processed. If it’s comfortable to do so; say the information out loud. Saying the information out
loud takes it out of the head or off the paper and places it in the open for the ears to hear. Also;
saying it out loud triggers short term auditory recognition, which allows time for
Bite, Chew, Swallow - Ever heard the expression, “Bite off more than you can chew?” Well that is
what it is like when the perception of information is processed. Perception can overload the
brain and cause a breakdown. Perception and reality are hardly ever the same thing. There are
times that I perceived the information as too much and instantly became overwhelmed and shut
down; and then, there were other times that I processed the information successfully. The
information was the same amount; however, my perception was different each time. Biting,
chewing and swallowing information is difficult enough; why add perception to it? Perception
regarding information will always make it more than you can chew (or should I say process!).
Build Rome- Reading a paragraph more than once is frustrating. The victory of comprehending
whatever I read is always overshadowed by how many times I had to read it. Completely
eliminating frustration and disappointment is impossible (or at least for me it is). I believe that
today’s frustration is a preview for tomorrow’s break through. When I find that I’m extremely
frustrated, I remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Rome is one of the greatest cities
ever built, and greatness takes time.
Return to sender and send Metta- Opening mail that isn’t addressed to you is a federal offense.
We send ourselves encouraging or discouraging messages all the time. I decided that any
negative, discouraging message isn’t addressed to me. When I encounter negative, discouraging
jargon; I send myself Metta. Metta derives from a Mindfulness concept called Loving Kindness. The first step of Metta is placing a wish/want for yourself out into the world. Most people start
with, “May I be happy, may I be healthy.” I customize my Metta to fit the situation. Regarding
processing information; my Metta is, “May I persevere; may I be productive and may I be
accepting of my effort to try.”