Back to Boundaries


Different Categories – Different Strategies
They’re all still Boundaries

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Boundaries & Coaching Series

Moving on with the Boundary Series

In the prior post, The Benefits of Boundaries, I likened setting Personal Boundaries to having a moat with a drawbridge around your castle.

Raising and lowering the drawbridge helps to ensure (enforce) the kinds of behavior that you will and will not permit yourself to experience in your environment.

The “moat and drawbridge” of Personal Boundaries acts as a filter to permit only those people who are up to where you are in life to come into your castle and join the party.

Setting your boundaries defines the actions and behaviors that are unacceptable from those you do allow inside your metaphorical castle — in coordination with your Standards, which also determine how you will interact with them.

Different types of Boundaries

Dolly, the author of the wonderful koolkosherkitchen blog, left a comment under the prior Boundary post that led me to decide that, before I continue, I need to further define what I mean by the terms I will be using in the ongoing Boundary conversation.

In addition to Boundaries we set around behaviors of others, there are boundaries we need to have in place that determine our personal behaviors, sometimes referred to as “self-control.”

Boundaries can be further divided into several “domains” —
physical, intellectual, social and emotional.

While there is certainly overlap in some of these categories, let’s take a look at distinguishing these “types” from one another.

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Listening from Belief


‘Cause maybe you DON’T know better

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections Post on Listening Skills for Coaches

AS I’VE SAID BEFORE:
More than most people with “vanilla” functioning
ADD/EFDers have had people
trying to “fix” them all their lives —
along with the other citizens of Alphabet City
,
whose cognitive challenges are not physically obvious.

UM, this is why . . .

When we try to explain our actions in the context of our challenges, they barely make sense to us – and rarely make sense to them.

Even when those “fixers” appear to be listening,
they don’t always seem to be hearing.

Too many of them seem to believe that their own experience of life is valid and useful, and that their ADD/EFD buddy merely has to adopt their perspective and their correct attitude to be able to function differently — and well!

• You’re running a victim racket  . . .
• It’s all that coffee, or sugar, or lack of sleep –
ANYTHING besides Executive Functioning Disorders themselves . . .
• You are at the effect of an inaccurate BELIEF

Most of us understand intellectually that most “helpful” comments probably come from a positive, even loving intention. Most of us are willing to believe that those we’ve hired to help us (or who claim to love us) wish us well – but do you realize how UNloving those comments are in execution?  They don’t help, and they DO hurt.

They’re invalidating. They’re shaming and should-ing all over the place!

What’s worse, they don’t even work.

They frequently produce exactly the opposite of what the person who says them says they want! They confuse the issue and delay getting to the understanding that will actually make improved functioning possible. It’s not smart to devalue the clues! We’ll start telling you what we know you want to hear, and then where are we?

Invalidation comes from two assumptions that are flat out wrong:

  1. They assume lack of self-awareness — that we are not experiencing or describing our world view appropriately or accurately;
  2. They assume volition well, maybe we’re not exactly doing it on purpose, but we’re not making choices that will allow us NOT to do it either. And we could!

So, once again, we’re back to the underlying assumption that “all” a person who is struggling with one of the invisible disorders has to do is make a commitment to willingness and their world will shift on a dime.

This Chinese finger-trap is a consequence of a failure to listen from a basic belief in another’s experience of the world, their willingness to share it truthfully, and their ability to language it relatively accurately.

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Productivity, Focus & Follow-through


What helps & what hurts
– so that you don’t unintentionally
make accomplishment harder  –

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

The Motivation/Activation/Focus Continuum

As I’ve explained in the Activation articles, cheerleading – or any other attempt to motivate someone who is struggling with activation – is likely to backfire.

There are many tips and techniques that can help a person who struggles with Executive Functions initiate action and stay on track to completion, but most of them are counter-intuitive. The “typical” advice only works for the “typical” person.

Attempting to explain the differences between the neurotypical and the neuro-diverse, I’ve said many times, “The reasons they don’t do things are seldom the same as the reasons we don’t do things.”

Different causes mandate different approaches and ideas.

One of the best ideas I know is to make use of the services of a Body Double – as long as both partners are aware of some of the unwritten rules of the game.

Body Double Confusion

An ADD Coaching technique I introduced in Body Doubles for Activation & Accountability, the Body Double concept underscores how simply having another person in the room can make things easier to do — because it is an externalized reminder of the need to stay on track for the person being doubled.

Haven’t you ever noticed how much easier it is to stay on track on certain types of tasks when somebody is observing?

Some repeat information from the earlier article:

  • It’s important to note that the Body Double does not actively help, advise, disrupt concentration or comment outside of a structured, agreed upon set of circumstances.
  • The Body Double’s only task is to sit quietly out of the way, reading or writing while the ADD/EFDer attends to work (unless it has been agreed in advance that s/he will interrupt a hyperfocused worker-bee occasionally to ensure that s/he stops for periodic breaks or for meals).
  • Frequently, the Body Double brings along a compatible task of his or her own – like journaling, knitting or catching up with email on a laptop or tablet.  They’re only there to externalize the observing ego of the person they’re doubling – the witness self of the person they are assisting.

I have observed for almost three decades now that having another person in the room actually helps those of us with activation and follow-through struggles focus on the task at hand, and stay on-task to completion — provided that the person in our space doesn’t feel it is their job to “help” us with what we are doing.

THAT’s where the confusion begins

In general, people tend to think about “helping” as an active state: donating food, clearing the table, fixing a flat — DOing something.

So when they are asked for help as a Body Double, they tend to be as much an active off-task distraction as a passive partner who helps to improve the odds that someone with Executive Functioning struggles will stay on track.

  • They often assume they are at least supposed to ask how things are going, or for a report of what has been done so far, or to remind the person of the items still undone (or something else that also needs to be done).
  • Unfortunately, intruding on the process in a manner that might be intended to be  “actively helpful assistance” actually makes things harder – sometimes much harder.

To be really helpful to someone already struggling with attention, focus and follow-through, a Body Double needs to be passive.

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar for a reminder
of how links work on this site, they’re subtle (scroll UP for it) ==>

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Surviving Beloved’s ADD


Ten Tips when the ADD/EFD is Beloved’s

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

As you read the article below, don’t get hung up on the use of “ADD” as the diagnostic handle. I use it to refer to the ATTENTIONAL struggles common among all of the Executive Functioning Disorders.  The article will also be helpful if your Beloved’s “handle” is TBI, EFD, OCD, or any of what I refer to as the Alphabet Disorders.

As I mentioned in the first article of the Beloved Series, I get a lot of differently phrased questions from spouses that, essentially, all boil down to the same thing:

How do I deal with ADD
when it’s not my ADD?

Great question!  Relationships are tough enough without additional complications.

Throw in a little ADD for-better-or-for-worse, and it starts looking like a promise you might just have to break.

Toward the end of When Beloved Has ADD, I encouraged you to believe that  ALL the relationship goodies are beyond that “wall” of “I can’t deal with this another minute!” – as is your own inner healing, the need for which is bringing everything to the surface in this manner.

That’s cold comfort when somebody else’s ADD repeatedly complicates your dream of riding off into the sunset together, happily ever after.

The relationship you dreamed of is still there – behind that wall of pain, rejection & reaction. As awful as it feels, there is a shiny silver lining to this blackest of clouds, whether you work it out with this Beloved or not.

MEANWHILE, this section will give you Ten Tips designed to help immediately. Don’t worry – your needs won’t get overlooked, and CAN’T get overlooked, but I can’t do much to help there in ten quick suggestions.

If you want some immediate relief to avoid damaging your relationship beyond repair while we’re working on how to change dynamics on the home-front, try one or all of the tips below.

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When Beloved Has ADD


HOW COME I’m the only grown-up
in this relationship?

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

Another adorable Phillip Martin graphic.

I get a lot of differently phrased questions from spouses and partners that, essentially, all boil down to the a similar frustration:

How do I deal with ADD
when it’s not my ADD?

Their words are different, their issues are slightly different, and their frustration levels can be anywhere from hopelessness, to exasperation, to panic, to RAGE.

When posted on one of the ADD bulletin boards I try to support, there is usually embarrassment tinged with a light sprinkling of shame in the tone of their posts – as if they should be able to figure it all out without help or information.  So THAT’s a good place to start here.

Your FIRST task is to stop being so hard on yourself –– for your frustrations OR for posting them on “ADD sites.”  I promise you that those sites are are frequented by a lot of other spouses desperate for information before they commit Hari Kari – or worse!

Most people, myself included, admire your willingness to use that safety valve and the honesty with which you post your frustrations.  It IS frustrating to be “forced” to deal with an Executive Functioning Disorder as confusing as ADD/EFD, especially when it isn’t even your own!

One of the things I always need to remind the ADD half in couples coaching is that the non-ADDers deserve extra credit for sticking around rather than running away screaming!  Being pre-frontal cortex backup is NOT an appropriate part of the “standard” deal.

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ADD Partners – When Good Love Goes Bad


Drawing of a man and a woman sitting back to back, arms crossed, and clearly not communicating.He said, She said

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

Marriage therapists say there are three sides to every story:  his side, her side, and what happened.

Misunderstandings abound, even in relationships
where neither partner is struggling with one of the Alphabet Disorders.

But I’d be tempted to argue for a fourth side with ADD/EFD in the picture — especially when it has been recently diagnosed or (holy moly!) undiagnosed, maybe barely suspected.

It seems to make no difference if the participants are intelligent, psychologically savvy individuals — without the knowledge of the impact of kludgy Executive Functioning on perception and pragmatics, the curve ball injected when ADD/EFD is part of the dynamic can set up situations that defy analysis.

In fact, psychological models often muddy the waters, aiming terms like “resistance,” “struggles for control,” passive-aggressive behavior,” and “ambivalence” at situations where ADD/EFD is clearly the one and only culprit — but only to the EFD knowledgeable who remember to look for it there first.

Help that didn’t

I spent almost a year in therapy working on my “feelings of ambivalence” toward my sister — “repressed,” of course.  The presenting evidence?  I was chronically late to any activity we planned together, often because I was unable to find my keys so I could lock the door behind me when I left my Manhattan apartment.

I knew that my sister interpreted my lateness as a sign that I didn’t want to spend time with her or that I didn’t  care about her feelings.  Every shared event began with a tense half-hour at the very least, if only because I was so frazzled from my attempts to make it on time.

“You could at least call!   Why don’t you do that?”  hung in the air,
even on those occasions when she didn’t actually say it.

The answer????? 

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HOW to Listen from Belief


Drawing of two smiling figures standing behind a question mark; thought bubbles over their heads: a red X, and a green checkmark

Beneficial Assumptions

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
See Listening from Belief for background & introduction

I’m not big on listening through assumptions of any kind,
generally, but I think you’ll find that filtering your listening
through the following Four Assumptions will help you
greatly, especially if you are viewing life through The ADD Lens™.

 . . . . Remember . . . . Remember . . . . Remember . . . .

1.  Solutions are individual – and relationship – specific.

•  No two ADD/EFDers have the same “flavor”
•  FLAVOR shapes what an individual ADDer can and cannot do personally

2.  Distinctions help bring unreasonable assumptions to consciousness.

•  Take the time to distinguish the terms you find yourself using.
•  Remember to distinguish “can’t” from “won’t”

3.   Real questions have real answers

•  Ask real questions — not indictments ending with question marks
•  Emulate Sherlock Holmes, not Perry Mason
•  Practice Sherlocking until it becomes second nature

4.  The most powerful way to listen to is to listen from belief.

•  Don’t “should” on each other.
 If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t blame the foot!*

—————————-
*mgh’s motto for The Optimal Functioning Institute™

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