Brain-based Habit Formation


Habits and the Dopamine Pleasure/Reward Cycle
(change your habits, change your LIFE)

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series:
Habits, Decisions & Attention-2

The Power of HABIT

Charles Duhigg, in an award-winning book entitled The Power of Habit, published in 2012, reminds us that transforming a habit is rarely easy, quick, or simple — but it is POSSIBLE.

I’ll go him one further.

As long as you will follow a simple 4-step procedure as you set your habits in place according to what science has learned about how the brain works, it is PROBABLE!

Now that science understands more about how patterns and pattern-recognition impact the the human brain (a pattern-recognition “machine,” after all), it is possible for any one of us to transform our entire lives through the power of habit.

In other words, we now know why habits develop, how they change, and how to build and rebuild them to our exact specifications — and feel GREAT about doing it.

Yea verily – even those of us who are citizens of Alphabet City can take advantage of the power of habit to change our experience of living.

What’s Possible?

Click the words UNDER the book jacket above to read a brief excerpt on the NPR site that tells the story of an small-town army major, a self-described “hick from Georgia” who almost single-handedly stopped a pattern of escalating riots in an Iraqi village, simply by analyzing the patterns that produced “the riot habit” and making ONE fundamental tweak.

“Understanding habits is the most important thing I’ve learned in the army,” the major in the excerpt linked above discloses. “It’s changed everything about how I see the world.”

  • What might be possible in YOUR life if you understood what the major knows about the neurology and psychology of habits and the way patterns work within our lives, businesses, and social groups?
  • What if you understood how to apply what you’ve read here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com about the needs of neurodiversity to the neurotypical advice about motivation and habit formation — so that you could tweak the “standard” information that dominates the info-market to make it all work for YOU?

Take a moment to really think about THIS:

What might your life look like one short year from now if you actually applied what you learned here, step by step?

  • Would you be healthier?  Wealthier?  Happier with your marriage and family life?
  • Would you finally find the time to write that novel, or start that new business, or to take the necessary steps to move into that lakeside house you’ve always dreamed about?
  • What WOULD you do, tweaking the old expression slightly, if you understood how to set it up so that you could not fail?

That’s exactly what this Series is offering you — right here and at no charge what-so-ever until the time when it becomes available only in a paid format by eBook subscription.

For those of you who want to add velocity to your progress (or who need the structure of a little nudging along the way), I will soon be announcing a TeleClass that will expand on the principles offered for free, and serve as a MasterMind Group to keep you going — but I’m getting WAY ahead of myself here.

For right now, keep reading — and do the exercises that will be included as we move through the articles that explain the dynamics and outline the process.  Take advantage of this opportunity while its still free for the taking.

I’ll be working right along with you as I recover from the mugging incident last December, and redesign my own life.

So let’s get to work.  What’s going on in that brain of ours that keeps rotten habits in place, and how can we use that understanding to transform our lives?

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BraveHeart Award!


BraveHeartBadge

Another Cool Blogging Award!!

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

The Brave Heart Award – an award for Survivors

I am honored to have been nominated by former award-winner Louise Collins, who is a truly brave and amazingly forthcoming survivor of so many different events and conditions in her young life that it boggles the mind.

Like many of us, she blogs to help others feel less alone, to process her feelings about what she is living through, and to make sense of the emotional (and functional) effects that she continues to experience.

Please have a look at ABOUT ME on IllicitbyNature for her own own description of who she is and what she is attempting to process.  Her words are inspiring and will be helpful to many of you, especially those struggling with depression or PTSD. (be sure to remember to “like” or comment, so she’ll know you were there)

Her homepage can be found by clicking http://www.http://illicitbynature.com/ which will open in a new tab (or window, depending on the settings on YOUR web-browser)

Conditions of Acceptance

To accept the award, I had to complete a number of tasks, beginning with those immediately below (more info further down):

  1. Thank the person who nominated me.
  2. Answer a list of twelve questions – which you will be able to read below, along with my answers
  3. Pass the acknowledgment on by nominating twelve additional blogs, none of whom have been nominated before.
  4. Notify my nominees that I have nominated them and share their names with links to their blogs on my blog
    (my list of nominees is further down – keep scrolling – along with the instructions needed to be able to accept the nomination)
  5. Include the Quote below with the notification of nomination

which I formatted to be ADD-friendly – shorter paragraphs and slightly adapted — to be able to nominate those dealing primarily with the chronic abuse that comes as a result of being diagnosed with one of the Alphabet Disorders – ADD, TBI, OCD, PDD, PDA etc.- abuse that results from the actions and comments from the many who simply don’t understand.

The original version contained the word “abuse” alone, which has a more specific meaning to those who have been physically or sexually abused – or to those diagnosed with PTSD. (copied further down without modification)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stand Strong You Are Not Alone

I call you a survivor, because that is what you are. There are days when you don’t feel like a survivor and there are days when the memories trigger your past and it feels like you are losing the fight – but you are not. Take the past and heal with it. You are strong.

I want you to know that any abuse you experience as a result of your diagnosis is not your fault. It does not matter what age it happened. You did not deserve it, you did not cause it, and you did not bring it on yourself. You own no shame, guilt, or remorse.

In your life, you have faced many demons, but look around you and you will see there is hope and there is beauty. You are beautiful, You are loved, there is hope.

You deserve to be loved and treated with respect. You deserve peace and joy in your life. Don’t settle for anything less than that. God has plans for you. Your future does not have to be dictated by your past.

Each step you take you are not alone. Stand Strong.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Habits, Decisions and Attention


Why Crazy/Busy People NEED Habits
. . . Making friends with setting them in place to serve you

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series:
Habits, Decisions & Attention-1

Another adorable Phillip Martin graphic

Another adorable Phillip Martin graphic

Say hello to the HABIT habit!

It seems to me that every March tends to be “habits” month around the blog-o-sphere. Good habits, rotten habits, lapsed habits; developing new habits, tweaking old habits, breaking bad habits — I always seem to run into a bunch of “habit” posts every March.

Why is that?

I’m guessing it’s because there’s been just enough time since New Years for practically everyone to have fallen off the Resolutions Wagon — except, that is, for the few disciplined and rare individuals who made it a point to develop new HABITS as structures to support their new goals.

Or maybe its just me. In any case, let’s jump on the bandwagon and explore the topic for a bit – starting with taking a stab at defining the term.

So how come we resist developing them?

Let’s face it – doing something repeatedly (and regularly) eventually activates our “I don’t wanna’-s.”  We like to think we prefer to hang looser with life — even though we’re not crazy about reeling from the chaotic state that living structure-free usually creates.

  • Putting things off until they reach some sort of crises point isn’t really a great system for grown-ups.  But deciding when and how to work everything we need and want to do into our crazy/busy lives is tough — especially for those of us with activation or transition troubles.
  • Having to negotiate timing, self-to-self, is annoying, yet do-it-now is seldom convenient.
  • Until the habit is in place, we have to decide to “make” ourselves do things, day after day after . . . I’m really not in the mood right now day!

Then there’s the parent trap. Since many of what could be excellent habits NOW were foisted upon us as children, some of us have not treated those habits with the appreciation they deserve as a result.

  • Those of us who didn’t have the good sense to hang on to many of the habits our parents tried to instill in us have been making life harder than it needs to be.
  • Trust me – it took me YEARS to get over my “nobody tells me what to do now that I’m on my own” unconscious teenaged rebellion.  When I finally wised up, it took me a few years more to put those habits back in place.

False Economy

SOURCE: memegenerator.net

Let me clue you in on something I learned
the hard way:

The neurodiverse can’t afford
NOT to put habits in place.

  • There’s not enough time in anybody’s life to DECIDE about every little detail of life here on this strangely ordered planet the neurotypicals have set up where all of us are forced to live.
  • Especially not the way the ADD-brainstyle goes about deciding — agonizing for days as our brains search the known universe to make sure we consider every possible parameter of possibility first!!
  • If you’re a member of team ADD/EFD – or seem to get stuck (or simply worn down and worn out) by having to make too many decisions – it makes sense to try to expend as little effort as possible getting through your day by making a few choices “ONCE and for all” – which is where habits are golden.

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Executive Functioning, Focus and Attentional Bias


Attention must be paid
How come that sometimes seems
so VERY hard to do?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Self-Health Series

Attentional Bias and FOCUS

“Executive functioning” is an umbrella term for the management (regulation, control) of cognitive processes,[1] including working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, and problem solving [2] as well as planning, and execution.[3] (also known as cognitive control and the supervisory attentional system) ~ Wikipedia

Central to the idea of “control” is the concept of intentional FOCUS.

Intentional focus means exactly that — you can focus where you want, when you want, for as long as you want — and shift focus to something new (and BACK again) any time you want. (see The Dynamics of Attending for the implications of on that idea)

Can anybody really DO that?

Those of us with Alphabet Disorders don’t usually kid ourselves that we are the absolute rulers of our skip-to-my-Lou minds. But even those of you who feel that you do fairly well in that regard might be surprised at how often your focus is skewed unintentionally through a concept known as attentional bias.

About attentional bias, Wikipedia says it is a term commonly used to describe the unconscious inclination to note emotionally dominant stimuli more quickly and prominently, effectively “neglecting” factors that do not comply with the initial area of interest.

The concept implies that stimuli that do not comply with the emotionally dominant stimuli will be “neglected,” reducing our attention toward a great number of the many things coming our way — and ultimately negatively affecting our ability to prioritize action in ways we might ultimately prefer.

Sort of, but not really

While it certainly seems to be true that anything that “hooks us emotionally” will pull our focus away from more neutral stimuli, other reasons for attentional bias exist.

More accurately, attentional bias describes the tendency for a particular type of stimuli to capture attention, the familiar “over-riding” the importance of other input.

For example, in studies using the dot-probe paradigm (a computer-assisted test used by cognitive psychologists to assess selective attention), patients with anxiety disorders and chronic pain show increased attention to angry and painful facial expressions.[2] [3]

But we’ll also see increased attention to an item written in a bold color (or in a person’s favorite color), to names similar to our own among a list of names (or that of a close relative), or a familiar sound mixed intermittently with less familiar sounds.

Scientists believe that attentional bias has a significant effect on a great many items we must deal with moment-by-moment, which tends to have an exacerbating impact on quite a few “conditions.”

Some of those “conditions” include depression, anxiety, chronic pain, eating disorders and other addictions, and many other areas that might not, at first glance, seem related – like task-anxiety and follow-through to completion.

Extensively explored by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman and frequent collaborator Amos Tversky, the concept of cognitive bias explains something that most of us have readily observed, and frequently struggle to explain —

The actions of human beings aren’t always rational!

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PROGRESS, not Perfection


The Long Road Back:
Learning patience – Recovering Resilience

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Self-Health & Walking a Mile in Another’s Shoes Series

A Little Background

wallpaperweb.org: click picture to visit source

wallpaperweb.org: click picture to visit source

“The journey toward resilience is the great moral quest of our age.”
~ Andrew Zolli, co-author of
Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back.

Bouncing back myself

Regular readers know already that, between Christmas and New Years, I was mugged at gunpoint getting out of my van in front of my house, and that the thugs shattered my dominant hand. 

That left me pretty much helpless – and unable to work – until the cast came off in the second week of March. 

Since I work for myself there is no regular paycheck if I can’t do the work, so it’s been a scary time.

Only once my cast came off, about 75 days later, am I finally able to really concentrate on jumping through all the hoops necessary to put things back together – a DAUNTING idea! (See When Fear Becomes Entrenched & Chronic for just HOW daunting!)

Not only do I need to recover my sense of safety and security in my world and get back to work, I need to recover my STUFF!

  • The band of thugs made away with my purse, containing my make-up and favorite hairbrush, my brand new iPhone, the keys to house, car and storage space, and a-whole-lot-more, and my wallet (with all forms of identification, the plastic cards one uses for money these days, and all the merchant cards one shows to buy much of anything anymore).
  • They also grabbed my tote containing a number of things, the most devastating to my ongoing functioning being my datebook and address book.
  • It ALL needs to be replaced – starting with figuring out who and what I call to DO that – along with everything that expired while I was incapacitated (like my car insurance and tags, for example), and making sure all my regular bills are paid through the end of March.

If you’re one of my few neurotypical readers, you’re probably not envying my process, but my ADDers (etc) r-e-a-l-l-y get what a terrifying process that is!!

Spending a few weeks with my friends in Little Rock has been very healing, and getting back at least partial use of my dominant hand has made a huge difference.

Yet, I still have a long way to go before I will be able to say that I have climbed out of the hole I found myself in rather unexpectedly, almost three intermidable months ago.

I feel SO far behind, wondering if I will EVER be able to catch up!!

Since I promised to let you know what I am doing to continue to heal and how its going, I’ll check in every week or so with an article that will be a bit like a diary of my progress, coupled with any related insights, thoughts or ideas about executive functioning as I step back from the PTSD edge.

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