Avoiding Re-Boggle


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

The only thing worse than Boggle
is re-Boggle.

Have you ever noticed that when things go wrong first thing in the morning, they seem to continue on a downward trajectory all day? That’s because your brain is “primed” to respond to situations that match your prior experience.

We’ll talk more about that in a minute, but for now, I want you to memorize the following sentence:

Once your system is “sensitized,”
it takes increasingly less stimulation to activate it.

So let’s talk about how to DE-sensitize it.

As you read in the article on the TBZ, after a relatively short period of time, once you have removed yourself from the possibility of continued over-stimulation, you will notice that you are calm enough to think about leaving your Temporary Boggle Zone (or your perfectly designed Boggle Space, if you’ve given yourself that gift while you’ve been reading this series over the past few months).

Boggle Technique has helped enough to enable your “real” self to peek tentatively out from behind the banshee clone that took over your body just moments ago — because you removed yourself from the environment where you became over-stimulated.

Relatively quickly, you will begin to notice that you are bored, or that you feelling a bit silly, or that you are eager to do anything except continued breathing and affirming.

When you reach that point, you are ready to begin to think about the situation that caused the Boggle in the first place.

  • If you feel any twinges of re-Boggle as you replay the scenario, go back to square breathing.
  • Only when you can focus calmly on the activity that precipitated your retreat are you ready to even begin to think about re-entry.

Don’t leave yet.

Sit still just a moment longer

Before you leave, decide what your next action will be.  Can you think of a new way to approach the task that made you Boggle in the first place?

  • Will you put everything away and come back to it another time?
  • Is there a call you need to make (or an email you need to send) to let someone else know that you need a bit more time on whatever it was you were working on?
  • Do you know what you are going to say to anyone who was a partipant in (or witness to) the situation that led up to the Boggle?

The Movie in your Mind

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 “walking through” the steps of that next action. Begin with thinking about what it will be like to stand up and leave your Boggle Space.

  • Go through the steps in your imagination as if you were scripting a movie of your life, thnking about shooting the next scene.

Many ADDers find it helps to create a bit of distance from the situation by thinking about your role being played by a favorite actor or actress, picturing that individual going through the motions of the same task you are about to face.

  • This little piece of mental rehearsal is going to get you through the first few moments of re-entry, because it works WITH the way the human brain works.


Priming is the process by which certain mental pathways are activated, increasing the statistical likelihood of outcomes from one group of potential responses over another, through the pre-activation of a mental representation.

The priming effect is a term that describes an enhanced probability of retrieving context-specific “information” from your memory banks as a result of prior exposure to one area of information rather than another.

In other words, the priming effect refers to the condition where enhanced access to a particular item of information in your memory banks occurs as a result of recent exposure to a related stimulus

Words and Meaning

One way to understand this idea is to think about the manner in which certain words have one meaning in one context or situation, distinct from the meaning of the same words in a different situation (or context).

For example:

  • In a corporate office on a Friday, you might take the report of an executive who was “dressed down” to mean that he or she was outfitted in a manner consistent with “business casual,” following a less formal dress code than was standard for the office generally;
  • If you were on the West Point campus and heard about a cadet who was “dressed down,” you would probably be much more likely to interpret that to mean that a student had been disciplined, or chastised in some fashion.

In both cases, your brain would have been “primed” to search through your memory banks looking only for information that made sense in the environment in which the words were spoken.

Priming is believed to have evolved to enhance survival by increasing processing speed through the conservation of cognitive resources — limiting the amount of data your brain needs to sift through to only those items that allow you to make sense of your experiences as they occur.

It is not quite the same neurological process as “come-from” (that is, observing only what is consistent with what you expect to see, or interpreting what you are hearing in a manner that is consistent with what you expect to hear), but the effect is similar.

The effects of priming can be quite subtle, and can be long-lasting.  Numerous studies have shown, for example, that exposure to a certain set of words can affect subsequent word choices (evidenced through increased likelihood of related word usage in word-stem completion tests), even after the original words themselves can no longer be recalled.

More or Less

The priming effect can be positive or negative.  That doesn’t necessarily mean “good” or “bad.”  The terms are used to refer to whether the prime makes a particular result more or less likely, statistically, or whether it speeds up or slows down processing speed toward the more likely outcome.

The important thing to understand conceptually is that once you Boggle, you are primed for a rapid recurrance of the same darned thing, UNLESS you prime your brain for something else.  You can’t actually UN-prime.

Mentally rehearsing a different “ending” to the story of what just happened will make it far more likely that the faster “reactionary” centers of your brain will be a little slower, and the slower “rational” centers of your brain will come on board a little faster.

Science has also discovered that the effectiveness of primes has a tendency to be “modality specific.”

  • You can expect improvement in the recognition of visual “data” in response to visual priming,
  • Verbal priming works best when the subsequent usage will involve verbal cues and responses.
  • Mentally rehearsing an action (like imagining yourself going through the motions of the perfect golf shot or tennis serve) will improve physical responses more effectively than, for example, repeating affirmations that you are a winner, or that you stay fopcused on the court.

What’s interesting is that “related” priming also occurs between modalities, or between semantically related words that reference similar areas of conceptual processing, like “coat” and “hat,” “run” and “walk,” or “robin” and “blue jay.”

Since you can’t ever predict exactly what you are likely to face when you walk back into the situation that pushed you over the Boggle line, your best bet is to engage as many modalities as possible as you “prime you re-entry.”

Don’t stay Crazy

It’s just plain crazy to continue to let your ADD get the best of you when you Boggle. Don’t keep doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different result.

Remember, the first step on the road to any change is awareness

  • The more concrete you are, the more aware you will be of the dynamics of your functioning when you are approaching Boggle.
  • The more aware you become in real time, the more self-control you will be able to exert.
  • The more modalities you are able to bring to each exercise, the greater the likelihood that you will be able to access these thoughts when you need them.


Stay tuned.  In the last article in the Boggle Book series we are going to review some of the principles of neuroscience that underly the concepts I have put together and call Boggle Technique.

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.

BY THE WAY I have received quite a number of Boggle-related questions that are covered in the Boggle Book itself, though not part of the excerpted content.

Until The Boggle Book is available, rather than “reinventing the wheel” in an e-penpal fashion, it occurs to me that it might make some sense to use what would otherwise be penpal time to develop a Boggle TeleClass, where we can cover the content “live” (and do a bit of group coaching for follow-through).

So if you sent me a question that remains unanswered, that’s why. 

Leave me a comment if you would like to be notified when the TeleClass is ready to launch and I’ll save you a seat!

Related Articles on this site

Related articles ’round the ‘net 
(the study skeptics among you will LOVE these!)

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

Coming up in the Boggle Series:

  • 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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