Anticipating Boggle

Jaws Music

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

All artwork on this page: courtesy of Phillip Martin

Remember the movie about the great hunt for the killer shark that turned a formerly peaceful resort town a living nightmare?

Remember the gradually building staccato music that warned the audience that something terrible was about to happen?

Not only did that musical build-up fail to make it any less startling when those great jaws suddenly loomed into view, it actually heightened the sense of anxiety and impending doom, making the appearance of that shark all the more frightening.

By the midpoint of the movie, people were squirming in their seats and holding their hands up ready to cover their faces with nothing more than the music itself, even when the visual was seemingly placid.

That Jaws music meant something dreadful was just about to happen.  The viewers had become sensitized to expect the worst from the first few notes of the theme.

Guess what? You have your own internal version of Jaws music sensitizing you to expect the worst as well.

You probably don’t consciously realize that you are poised for Boggle from the first moment that one of your early Boggle triggers is activated, but you certainly do experience a mounting sense of anxiety and dread in your body.

Just like our cave-forefather Og’s body was preparing to run like the wind from the moment he saw that first sabre tooth tiger on the horizon, you are now on high alert, fearful of what is likely to happen next unless that “Jaws music” STOPS.

Think back on your last Boggle experience.

Long before the point at which you found yourself unable to cope at all — long before you screamed at your spouse, punished your children, threw dinner into the trash or ran sobbing from the room — there was an underlying awareness that something was going terribly wrong terribly soon.

Maybe you even said something like, “If you kids don’t stop arguing over the TV set I’m going to
[fill in your favorite threat here]  or “Honey, you know I hate it when you try to tell me something
when I’m trying to listen to somebody on the phone!”

Or maybe you just clenched your jaw and shot the offender “the look.”

You were telling yourself right there that you needed to stop all incoming stimulus NOW or you would be on the road to the next major outburst.

Turn off the Jaws music!

Can you remember how early you began to feel that bodily sensation in the pit of your stomach or the lump in your throat, or the tightening in your chest, or the acceleration of your heartbeat — or the urge to throttle the offending human with your bare hands?  That’s the feeling of adrenalin build-up.

Sherlock the Boggle Bait

What was going on immediately before your first awareness of that “throttle” sensation? 

  • Did your teenager turn the stereo up loud enough to alarm the neighbors at the same time you discovered that you were out of milk?
  • Did the kids let the cat out as they ran in the front door – while you were trying to maneuver the car past the bicycles in the driveway into a garage littered with recycling?
  • Did your four-year-old spill her juice?

You may not have realized that those events were linked to the Boggle that actually occurred over the fact that you ruined dinner, or that resulted in the explosion at your wife when she nagged you about how irresponsible it was to leave the car keys in the ignition. Again.

I’m sure you didn’t connect the spilled juice with the Armageddon that ended with your threatening to divorce your husband if he couldn’t take a more active role with the children . . .  and by the way, would it be too much to ask that he put his own #%@! laundry into the hamper once in a while?!

But your body certainly knew a Boggle trigger when it felt one!
It responded with the release of adrenalin it always produces in response to danger.

Back to your Boggle Journal

For each of the Boggles on your list, see how far back you can identify that Jaws music early warning stress signal?  Add those events to your list of Boggle triggers as well.

As you look back at the list of Boggles from the past year, can you think of any additional triggers you could add to your list?  Maybe the year you Sherlocked was missing a key event that happens only occasionally, yet always brings the additional stressor that drags the threat of Boggle along.

  • Are you planning to have another child?
  • Is your teenaged risk taker about to start drivers education?
  • Has your daughter with the lousy sense of time begun to date a boy who seems to come from a very permissive family?
  • How reliable is the car you normally drive?
  • How long until your next family reunion?
  • How long since your last physical exam?

I can certainly predict, given the situations in the list above, several possible Boggle triggers.

  • How patient are you likely to be while your youngest practices the trumpet as your teenaged son drives off in the car that is two weeks overdue for a tuneup?
  • Can you honestly say that you can have a calm, rational conversation about finances once you notice that it is after ten o’clock and the library where your daughter and her boyfriend went to study closed at nine?
  • What will be the impact on your adrenalin level when your spouse tells you, as you return home after dark, that your doctor’s office called in the middle of the afternoon wanting to speak to you about some test results?
  • THEN what happens when you discover that the chicken you planned for dinner smells funny — or  when the batteries in the flashlight are dead when you have to grope your way to the fuse box in the basement because you forgot that the toaster oven and the blender used at the same time ALWAYS blow that fuse?

You get the idea.  Start adding potential triggers to your list to reflect potential sources of adrenalin built into to some of the possible scenarios of your life.  Forewarned is forearmed.

OK, now you have your particular Boggle profile.

In the same way that you take an umbrella when it is threatening rain, you are going to use your profile to help you set up protection for yourself for your predictable stressors.

Just the Facts

Even though this is your list, it is not personal.   We are looking at facts here, not opinions.  Based on the evidence of your life, these items are major stressors for you.

Pay no attention to the fact that everyone else you know has absolutely no trouble with anything on your particular list of stressors.

Give absolutely no credence to the thought that it makes no sense for a grown person to be the slightest bit bothered by something that many fifteen year olds take in stride.

We are not talking about logic here; we are talking about evidence.

You have a bodily reaction to certain life events that releases a surge of adrenalin, whether those events affect others the same way or not.

  • Just because most people are not allergic to wheat does not mean that it is not highly problematic for others.
  • You didn’t choose to be sensitive to your triggers any more than a person chooses to be sensitive to wheat.
  • Don’t waste time trying to figure out a way to talk yourself out of your sensitivity.
  • Make plans to limit your intake.

Eliminate the Stressor Shoulds

If you find yourself using the word should in regard to a stresser, that’s a signal to take a second look.

I should be able to handle little noise when I’m cooking.
Aha!  A Boggle predictor.

Another signal is the word only, used in a context designed to change your experience of the event and its impact on your sense of calm:

He’s only three years old, or
It’s only a little spilled milk.

Likewise, examine the expectations in the language of others.  These are thinly veiled shoulds.

•  Why are you so touchy about [fill in the blank]?

Translation: You should  have the same perfectly calm
reaction to that particular event that I do — to be able to
tolerate exactly the same level of stress without “over”

•  Nobody gets to have everything their way all of the time, you know.

Translation:  You should let me have my way on this
particular item and let me continue to drive you crazy with it.
After all, I put up with irritating things you do.

There are two immutable universal truths:

1.  Nobody can be talked out of a toleration
2.  For an ADDer, all tolerations are precursors to Boggle.

Pushing someone past their limits once those limits have been identified and articulated carries the same risk as turning on a faucet known to leak occasionally.  If I tell you not to turn on the faucet today, don’t be surprised by the results when you think you can do it anyway (just because nothing happened the last time you turned on that faucet)!

A leaky faucet has a logic of its own.

And don’t expect me to apologize for the fact that you got drenched!
I warned you.  You chose to ignore the warning.

Now who’s being irrational?


This was a long one, but stay tuned — there’s still a little bit more to come before you are finished identifying your Boggle triggers.  In the next article in this series we are going to take a broader look at Boggle Bait, to help you hone your ability to predict and avoid!

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.) STRICT No Spam policy.

Related Articles on this site

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

Coming up in the Boggle Series:

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!"

One Response to Anticipating Boggle

  1. Pingback: Flashback: Can This ADDer Be Saved? – Part 2 | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

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