Boggle: The TBZ

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The Temporary Boggle Zone

Excerpted from my upcoming Boggle Book ©Madelyn Grifith-Haynie-all rights reserved.

There is no reason to go another day without a Boggle Space.

While you are preparing your very own Boggle Space, there will be many times when you will need a place to go NOW.

When those times arise, the Temporary Boggle Zone, is command central: the TBZ.

Where is the neatest corner of your living space — out of the normal traffic patterns of your household?

It also needs to be a place other than the Boggle Space you are designing for yourself. If it is behind a door you can close (and lock!), so much the better.

Claim it as your own. 

For now, place a chair in that out of the way corner – facing the corner, if need be — somewhere, somehow you will not be able to see looming reminders of anything you need to handle.

Explain to the people you live with that you are developing a system to deal with ADD and emotional reactivity, and that you need their help.

Whenever you go to your Boggle Space, they must leave you totally alone until you “come out” — they can ask you no questions and you will be taking no phone calls.

The only emergencies you will even consider must involve bloodshed,
fire or flood.

Other Ways to Get it Done

Some clients have used a second bathroom for a TBZ so that they could avoid having to “train the family” or deal with the teasing that would probably follow in the early stages of the process.

That method would never work for me because the bathroom is one of those rooms that seems to always need some kind of attention and I don’t find the reminder of that fact particularly soothing.

The only rule here is that you must find a place that you can use as a TBZ immediately. You are going to need it sooner than you think. And the sooner you learn to use Boggle tactics the easier your life will be.

The Temporary Boggle Zone

How to Use the TBZ

The most effective way to use the following section is to have someone read it to you while you perform the actions. Even though most of us feel silly even thinking about asking someone to do anything like this, I promise you it will be MUCH more effective if you will simply trust me and DO IT. You can use a session with your coach, ask your best friend, or enroll a child who loves to read aloud.

Have them read the sentences aloud, one at a time, then count silently to five between each sentence. If you end up laughing while you do this, so much the better. Just go back to the sentence that made you laugh and perform the action before continuing. Have your “assistant” wait while you perform any actions that can’t be completed while they are counting silently to five.


Sit in your chair.  Close your eyes.  Think about your last Boggle. No, I mean really THINK about your last Boggle. If you’re connecting to the memory, you will feel some effects of stress in your body: a tightness in your chest, a speeding up of your heartbeat, the clenching of your jaw, tears behind your eyelids – something to alert you to the fact that Boggle has physical effects as well as cognitive consequences.

Now, focus on your breathing

How do you breathe?  Do you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth?  That is what I want you to do.

  • Take three complete breaths this way — in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Continue breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth for the remainder of the exercise.

Are you expanding your lungs fully with every intake of air?

  • Take a huge breath and notice how much more air you can take in.
  • Breathe in through your nose to a full count of eight.
  • Make sure your lungs are full when you reach eight.

Breathe out through your mouth.

  • Did you take the same eight counts to exhale?  That is what I want you to do.
  • Do three sets this way — eight in, eight out.

How are you feeling ?  More centered?  A little calmer?  A little lightheaded?  Do you want to adjust your body to a more comfortable position?

It’s all ok.  Just notice what is going on with you while you focus on your breathing for the remainder of the exercise.

Another Way to Breathe

This time, breathe in to a count of eight and hold your breathe for eight counts before you release the air.  When your lungs are empty, wait eight counts before you inhale.  Remember to inhale through your nose.

Do three sets this way:

1.   In through your nose for eight counts

2.   Hold for eight counts

3.   Out through your mouth for eight counts

4.   Hold for eight counts.

That is what we call square breathing and that is how you are going to breathe every time you go to your Boggle chair in your TBZ.

Before you go on, take a moment to acknowledge your assistant and thank him or her for helping.   You have taken the first step in setting up TBZ boundaries: always remember to acknowledge the people who honor your need to manage your stimulation level — as soon as you can do so without re-Boggle.


Continue square breathing on your own while you focus on your thoughts.  Kinda’ hard to indulge in the habit of negative self talk while you are square breathing, isn’t it?

Before you learn how to do it, lets spend some time finding a new way of TBZ thinking.  Enough breathing for now — get out your notebook.

Changing Your Mind

Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper.  On the left side make a list of five negative things that are part of the mind chatter when you Boggle.   You know the ones — the stuff that comes up in your mind that keeps the panic alive.  Skip three lines after every negative thought.

Use the following to help you, but make up your own.

•   I’ll never get this right!
•   I should have started sooner!
•   I have to do everything myself!
•   I’ll lose my job if I miss this deadline!
•   I hate ADD!

On the other side of the line: re-language each thought so it expresses the truth about the competent person you ARE.  For example, for statement number one above, you might write down something like this:

  • It’s impossible to function when I Boggle. As soon as I calm down I will find a way to accomplish the task.

Use your own words, and come up with a strong positive statement that is true for you for each negative you have put down.

  • As soon as you have come up with five examples of crazy and have countered them with five examples of truth, copy everything over neatly on another sheet of paper.
  • Put it on your Boggle chair and leave it there, so you will see it before you sit down, each and every time you need to use the TBZ.
  • The right side of this list will remind you that these are the thoughts you are going to think during those first few moments of square breathing.

If you know that your particular brand of Boggle precludes thinking, they’ll be right there so you can read them.  You can also tape them so that you can listen to them — but leave the paper in the chair to remind yourself to turn on the tape.  These visual prompts are priming your brain for the changes you are in the process of making.

As long as you continue to allow the negative thoughts to swirl around in your brain, you will be producing more and more of the neurotransmitters that got you into this mess to begin with — and you will find it impossible to get out.

  • Every time you repeat the crazy-making thoughts to yourself, you
    are “rehearsing,” which is strengthening your brain’s “anxiety wiring.”
  • Every time you counter them, you are rewiring.

Eventually, if you take the time to DO this, regardless of how silly it may seem, you will stop the “automatic” hook-up of these thoughts to your adrenalin response.

Re-languaging Negative Thoughts

I’ll never get this right! It’s impossible to function when I Boggle.   As soon as I calm down I will find a way to accomplish the task.
I should have started sooner! I’ve learned to use the adrenalin that comes from a deadline to help me to focus.  I’m relearning!
As soon as I’m out of Boggle I’ll be ready to go again.
I have to do everything myself! I have turned myself into the lone ranger.  When I’m calmer I can find effective ways to ask for help.
I’ll lose my job if I miss this deadline! Nobody ever lost a job for missing one deadline.  I will soon be calm enough to assess the task and make a new agreement.
I hate ADD! There are a lot of good things that come with ADD.  In Boggle everything looks bleak.


The only thing worse than Boggle is re-Boggle.

In less time than you would believe, you will notice that you are calm enough to think about leaving the TBZ.  You will start feeling bored or silly or ready to do just about anything to keep from continued breathing and affirming.

Sit still just a moment longer.

Think about the situation that caused the Boggle in the first place.  If you feel any twinges of re-Boggle go back to square breathing.  Only when you can focus on the activity calmly are you ready to leave.

Don’t leave yet.

Decide from here what the next task will be.  Will you put everything away and come back to it another time?  Will you throw dinner in the garbage and take the kids to McDonald’s?  Can you think of a new way to approach the task that made you Boggle in the first place?

You are not ready to leave until you have your next action firmly in your mind and can think of it without any twinges of re-Boggle.  Imagine yourself doing that next action.  This little piece of mental rehearsal is going to get you through the first few moments of re-entry.

That’s it!  That’s how you use the TBZ while designing and completing your Boggle Space.  And that is how you will eventually use your Boggle Space.

Back to Designing

Before we go back to designing your Boggle Space, let’s clear away possible mental roadblocks.

Does this sound silly?  Can you think of a million reasons why this won’t work for you.  Are you playing this mental game with yourself:  “Now that I know the square breathing I won’t need to actually go to a Boggle Space to do it?”

Don’t kid yourself.  That’s called denial.

Having a battle plan and a safe place to retreat is the cornerstone to overcoming Boggle.

Don’t cheat yourself out of the success that you deserve.  In the next article, I will suggest some ways to clear some cobwebs, so that you are primed and ready to step OUT of the life you have now and IN to the life you were born to live.  Stay tuned.

As always, if you’d like notification of future articles in the Boggle series (or any other), give your name and email to the nice form at the top of the skinny column to your right.  You only have to do this once, so if you’ve asked for notification for a prior series, you’re covered for this one.  STRICK No Spam policy.

Articles in the Boggle Series
**Below: SOME content overlap – different info – Read BOTH

Coming up in the Boggle Series:

  • 11 – Boggle Bait
  • 12 – Avoiding Re-Boggle
  • 13 – Brain-science and Boggle

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

And what do YOU think? I'm interested.

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