Flashback: Can This ADDer be Saved?


A Tale of Two Clients – Part 1

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reposting an article in the The ADD Coaching Series

In a comment communication with  mike2all on his blog ReadAfterBurnout.com, I was recently asked about my coaching.  I took his question to mean, “How does your Coaching work?”

After a relatively brief response to his question I also encouraged him to take a look at a 4-part series of articles written shortly after I first began blogging here on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com.

That got me thinking that it might be time to repost an edited version of each part of this short-story like article.  I doubt that many of my new readers in the past five or so years since these articles were originally published have seen any of them.

They are written in a “magazine conversational” style, and are each relatively quick reads. STAY TUNED for newly edited versions of the remainder of the story.

Can This ADDer be Saved?

A few brief stories of Coaching Results from Clients themselves found HERE


 

And so it begins . . .

Like many of us, Katy Nolan was a full time homemaker with a full-time job.

She adored her husband Paul, a terrific father — but not really much help around the house, meaning not really much help with anything having anything to DO with running a household, actually.

Sometimes she joked that she had three kids — Mary, her second-grader, Tom her big fourth-grader, and Paul, the baby! Fortunately, Katy was one of the most organized women anyone knew, so she managed somehow to keep the home-fires burning, despite the demands of  a high-stress job.

Most days she managed to stay on top of things, but she went to bed exhausted every night and woke up every morning dreading the day. She loved her job, her kids, her marriage, and their newly remodeled home — but deep in her heart she hated her life.

“What’s wrong with me?” she often wondered.

THE DAY THE WORLD CHANGED

The words that started Katy’s day were about the worst she could possibly imagine, “Mommy, I don’t feel very good!”

“Not today!” she complained under her breath, feeling guilty for the thought.
“Please let her be well enough to go to school today and I promise I’ll be Florence Nightingale tomorrow!”

Her upcoming week was booked solid with urgent work to-dos and a million errands related to the upcoming Easter holiday. She had taken the day off to work on an important report due Friday — without the distractions of the office.

For some reason she usually struggled to get her thoughts on paper at the office with the background of the constant ringing of the telephones and chatting of her office-mates.  She also struggled against the frequent interruptions of her new boss, the micro-manager’s micro-manager. Her recent memo about the “slippage” of the quality of Katy’s reports was scathing.

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Executive Functions & YOU


Executive Functioning
for Optimal Functioning™
What’s involved and what can go wrong?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
another part of the Executive Functioning Series

MORE folks on Team EFD than folks with ADD/ADHD

The executive system is a carefully orchestrated combination of processes that, together, merge and mingle to make us human and to make us, well, us!

These functions continually work together to help us manage hundreds of cognitive and practical tasks of life, day in and day out.

Not only that, they do it in the blink of an eye, and primarily below the level of our conscious awareness. At least, they do it that way when everything is on board and working “normally.”

New here? Read What ARE Executive Functions? for more description & detail.

The area of the brain that makes possible many of the wonderful cognitive abilities differentiating humans from the rest of the mammals is the frontal third of the outer layer of the human brain, referred to as the pre-frontal cortex [PFC], right behind the forehead:

  • the last part of our brains to evolve,
  • the last part of our brains to develop in the womb,
  • and the last part of our brains to mature as we grow up

And it’s fragile

The PFC is especially vulnerable to damage — both before and after birth.

The living brain is soft, floating around inside a fluid filled environment keeping it from bumping up against the inside of a hard skull that, in turn, is protecting the fragile brain itself.

Your PFC can be injured very easily bumping up against that bony skull, even when no direct hit to the head was involved in the original incident.

Anything that makes the brain “slosh around” in the fluid in a manner that causes it to come in contact with the skull results in at least minor brain damage, and the PFC is often involved.

Read: How Do Brains Get Damaged?  Is YOURS?

THAT means that in addition to individuals with disorders, stroke or some type of substance-promoted damage affecting the PFC, anyone who’s been involved in almost any sort of accident is likely to experience brain-based executive functioning challenges of one sort or another.

It also means that most adults have at least a few EF issues, not only individuals with:

  • mood disorders (anxiety & depression included)
  • autistic and attentional spectrum disorders
  • TBI/ABI,
  • Parkinson’s
  • dyslexia & dyscalculia
  • more than a few neurological conditions such as
    sensory integration disorders 

in fact, almost all of what I refer to as the alphabet disorders — as well as, currently, MOST of us over 45, as the memory centers begin to age.

So what does THAT mean?

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How well do you REALLY function?


Soldiering ON with less
than Optimal Functioning™
when we could REALLY have a much easier time of it

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
part of the Executive Functioning Series
May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

Do you suffer from boiling frog syndrome?

You’ve probably already heard the story about cooking frogs by putting them in cold or tepid water, then slowly bringing it to a boil — even though they would have jumped out immediately if they were suddenly thrust into hot water.

Other versions of the story assert that, as long as the temperature increases slowly, the frog is able to adjust its body temperature to remain comfortable — until it ultimately becomes too weak to jump out before it’s cooked.

Just a myth, but apt

According to an interesting article on Wikipedia, neither version is true, but the analogy is perfect: as things slowly but steadily worsen, most of us adjust and accommodate, even when we could find ourselves in much better situations if we’d only react more quickly and reach out for help.

  • In my 25+ year coaching career, only a rare few individuals ever reached out for help or brain-based information until they were practically desperate, and almost all had been leading what I call “limp-along lives” for years.
  • More than a few had been taking pricey vacations or eating lunches in restaurants to get away from the stress of the work environment, or indulging in daily caffeine fixes at several dollars a pop, still convinced that they couldn’t afford coaching fees — until they felt they “had no choice.”

For YEARS it only made sense in the context of Boiling Frog Syndrome.

Even if they were cracker-jack “over-achievers” when they were younger, they contributed their functional and cognitive slow-down to aging
. . .  or the demands of parenthood
. . . or the increasing complexities of modern life
. . . or the rise of social media expectations

. . . or anything other than being flat-out worn down by repeated, unrecognized struggles with Executive Functioning they never understood how to overcome.

So What Goes Wrong?

It’s mentally and physically exhausting to continue to swim upstream.

  • As long as you are swimming with the current you get carried downstream with much less thrashing about on your part.
  • Not only that, when you’re swimming upstream, if you stop stroking for even a minute, your life goes backwards.  Nobody can keep up that kind of effort.
  • Before you realize it you are swimming alone, unhappy that life is so much work, but not really expecting it to be easier because you’ve always had to “work twice as hard for half as much” — or so it seems to you in your most private of thoughts.
  • You begin to believe that everybody struggles in the same fashion, but suspect that the others are somehow better able to cope than you are.

But it doesn’t have to be that way

It recently occurred to me that many people don’t reach out for help, perhaps, because they have forgotten (or have never really known) what effective focus and follow-through look like.

They’re falling victim to “that happens to everybody”
or “this is the best I can expect from myself” thinking
to explain and attempt to accept their various challenges.

Things can get WORSE as time goes by . . .

because each new skill must build on the ones before it.

If you never learned to add or subtract, multiplication and division would remain a mystery.

If you never really mastered basic arithmetic, how could anyone expect you to do well as you moved through school?

Similar to moving from basic arithmetic to higher math, learning how to manage life’s many challenges is also an incremental, multi-stepped process.

So, for the next few Mondays, I am going to detail the problems many of my clients had been putting up with because ““that happens to everybody,” and do my best to explain what’s behind the struggle — in the hopes that I will finally inspire more of you to spend a few months working with me to turn things around before you feel like you are about to crash and burn.

Lets START by taking a look at some of the problems
that are NOT “normal” functioning.
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Memory Glitches and Executive Functioning


MEMORY ISSUES:

AGING Executive Functions and Alphabet Disorders
(ADD/HD-EFD, TBI, ABI, OCD, ODD, ASD, PDA, PDD, MDD, MS, etc.)

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from the Memory Issues Series:
Forgetting/Remembering | When Memory Fails

BlankMemoryMEMORY: Movin’ it IN – Movin’ it OUT

With Alzheimer’s getting so much press these days (and with adequate mental healthcare for Americans unlikely for the next four years or more, since extremely short-sighted House Republicans are willing to vote in accord with the unconscionable desires of the billionaire in office) — most of us are likely to be more than a little fearful when our memory slips, even a bit.

Understanding how memory works can help us all calm down —
about at least that much.

As I mentioned in When Memory Fails – Part 2, the process of memory storage is an extremely important part of the memory equation — but if our brain’s librarian can’t find what we want when it comes time to USE the information, what good is it?

 

USB_memorystick 64x64

Human Memory vs. Computer Memory

It would be wonderful if human memory were at least as reliable as those “memory sticks” that allow us to sweep files we need to have with us onto a nifty portable device we can use anywhere we can find a device with a USB port.

Unfortunately, it isn’t.

But before we explore the process of moving information into long-term memory storage, our brains’ version of a “memory stick,” let’s take a look at the ways in which our “neuro-librarians” deliver what we’re looking for once it is stored there.

The “regurgitation” portion of the memory process is a factor of, essentially, three different processes:

  • recognition
  • recall, and
  • recall on demand

Let’s distinguish each of them before we go any further.

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My Top 10 Closet Hacks


10 Products that Squeeze
MORE into Closets:
Inexpensive Products that help me manage limited closet space

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


As I continue to say in my infrequent Top-10 Product posts:

Anybody who’s spent much time with very many ADDers knows how attached some of us can get to our stuff.

Regardless of how you might feel about that particular quirk of personality, ya’ gotta’ admit, those of us who are stuff-obsessed know our products!

The Time is Right

Following the recent Fashion Week collaboration with Jodie of Touch of Style, it seemed only fitting to share a few tips on storing all those items that help us make friends with change to keep our brain healthy and vital as we age.

Now that the seasons are changing, many of us with limited closet space are facing the task of changing out our closets.  Out with the heavy winter garb and in with the light-weight clothing — or vice versa, depending on where in the world you happen to live.

So I thought this would be a good time to share what helps ME with the task, along with a few products that more than double the space I have to work with.

Because NOBODY has enough closet space, and my life needs help!
(Nobody is paying me for these suggestions either, by the way
– I obtain the products like anybody else)

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Do YOU have the Sense of a Goose?


© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections: edited reposting

Click HERE for Part One: ABOUT Values and the Goose Story

A wonderful model for living

In 1994 I founded The Optimal Functioning Institute™ – the company that presented the world’s first comprehensive ADD-specific coaching curriculum, and the only one for many years (OFI’s certification compliant A.C.T.), a curriculum I developed and delivered personally for years.

OFI was founded according to the principles that Dr. Harry Clarke Noyes articulates in The Goose Story, an extremely short free-verse poem (below) about the importance of community.

For well over a decade it was featured prominently on my first website, ADDCoach.com, built to focus on promoting the existence of ADD Coaching and the importance of brain-based, ADD-specific, Coach Training — and one of the first ADD sites on the web.

I first shared it here on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com in 2011. Over the years, it has become a touchstone and a talisman for myself and, I hope, many of the students who trained with me.

In The Goose Story, Noyes compares and contrasts human behaviors to those of a flock of geese, starting with an impressive explanation as to why you always see them flying in V-formation.

The reason I was so taken with this story is a story of its own: how I became aware of the importance of a strong personal foundation and of values-based goals.

After my recent three-part empathy story [Part I here], which you’ll also find in the Related Contents at the bottom of this post, I decided it was time to share it again with many new readers who might never have seen it.

Part I of this post attempts to give you a little bit of background.
This post shares Noyes’ wise words.


The Goose Story
by Dr. Harry Clarke Noyes

Next fall,
when you see Geese
heading South for the Winter,
flying along in V formation,
you might consider
what science has discovered
as to why they fly that way:

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Friday Fun: Fashion and Shopping


Can’t take fashion seriously?
(or maybe you take it TOO seriously?)
Whatever!
Let’s ALL laugh the whole thing off

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Brain-Based and Friday Funnies Series

Quick Review before we get to the Funnies

Today is Jodie’s last installment of our collaboration exploring fashion as a “change agent.”  So before I send you over to A Touch of Style to finish up the series and read my closing observations, I want to review the point of fashion week before I inspire everybody to exit with a chuckle or two.

Don’t skip this review – it’s vital to everyone who wants to spend his or her “golden years” having fun rather than merely waiting for the inevitable.

Epigenetics and Fashion Week?

In Making Friends with CHANGE, posted  a week ago today, I briefly underscored the miracle of lifetime neuroplasticity — that the brain can change its structure and its function throughout our lifespan, depending on what we do with it.

We’re not stuck with – or blessed with – a lifetime contract on the brain we had when we were born.

Here’s the Good News

Gene expression is dependent upon our environment, the actions to which we commit ourselves, and even upon what we think and imagine.

The genes that shaped our brain in utero are literally capable of being turned on or off in reaction to how we respond to the targets of our focus, actually “rewiring” the brain we were born with with every new and different experience.

Changing anything is healthy-brain-aging friendly.

Change forces the brain to create new “roads” it can use when its usual pathway is damaged by any one of a number of things: stroke, concussion, medication, chronic stress – whatever.

If we change and grow as we go through life, our brain rewards us by creating new connections that will serve us well as we age.

Here’s the bad news: it works both ways

If we allow ourselves to stagnate, comfortable in our same ole’/same ole’ ways, we merely deepen the grooves of those same ole’/same ole’ pathways.

That’s GREAT for habit creation to handle those nattering Treadmill Tasks (distraction insurance that releases cognitive bandwidth for more important endeavors), but not a great strategy for brain-health overall.

For most of us, doing what we’ve always done is a recipe for functional backsliding called age-related cognitive decline – unless we are very, very lucky.

But in order to experience the benefits of brain-change, we must actually CHANGE what we ask it to do, with activities like:

  • studying something completely new to us
  • learning a new language
  • practicing a new musical instrument
  • exploring a new environment
  • taking up a brand new & challenging hobby

WARNING: if we don’t keep it up, the pathways created by our brain-healthy changes actually atrophy and die from disuse.

So, just like physical exercise, it’s important to pick something we actually enjoy to keep us motivated to keep it up — so we keep on making friends with new changes.

Making friends with CHANGE as we change our clothes

Jodie and I decided it would be fun to put our heads together to see if we could come up with a week’s worth of challenges specifically designed to shake things up, forcing change to our SELF-images on the way to helping us become more “change-friendly” overall.

As I commented in Jodie’s first post of this 3-part series . . .

Not only have researchers begun to discover the importance of “play” to healthy brain development and continued health, any time we spend making friends with change is what is called “neuro-protective.”

Together we explored how playing with what we choose to wear – recombining items we already own or adding something inexpensive to alter the look – can be a terrific way of making friends with change.

Stay tuned for more about change and healthy brain aging – including tips, techniques and work arounds. Meanwhile . . .

I’ve left you links to all three of Jodie’s posts at the bottom of the funnies, so be sure to pop over to see how three different challenges were interpreted by three different “real person” models representing three different decades — along with some additional comments from me to underscore the brain- benefits.


AND NOW for some fashion-related humor TODAY . . .

How many of the situations below make YOU nod your head
(or shake it)?

YOU PLAY TOO

If you have something on your website or blog that relates to the theme, especially if it’s humorous, please feel free to leave a link in a comment. (Keep it to one link per comment or you’ll be auto-spammed, but multiple comments are just fine and most welcome).

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What’s my Style?


Interpretation vs. Replication
How do I choose to dress myself today . . .
and how does that affect my brain?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Brain-Based Series
2nd Collaboration with
Jodie’s Touch of Style

Mom Jeans?

Some of you may not have heard the term, and many of my female readers may have heard it often enough to shoot on sight.

Even if you’ve never been aware of the concept of “Mom Jeans” before you read it here, the Moms with teen-aged daughters anywhere near their size don’t need a definition:

If your daughter hasn’t already tried to abscond with your favorite pair of jeans, put them in the Mom Jeans pile, meaning, according to the Saturday Night Live sketch, “Over the hill, lady, just give it up!”

Related Video: Original Mom Jeans Parody

Apparently, 7-9″ zippers are verboten, since waistbands are not allowed anywhere near anyone’s natural waistline anymore.

Even those styles that first came out as “hip huggers” many decades ago ride too high to please teen-aged fashionistas or the networks today.

Still unsure of their own opinions, the kids band together to undercut everyone who no longer has (or never had) the body to dress like they do, and the networks seem willing to do practically anything to curry favor with this demographic.

Something similar seems to happen every generation. We Boomers, remember, turned a skank eye on all of the preferences of the grown-up population when we were teens: “Don’t trust anyone over 30!”

Nobody’s Safe from Censure

Even Dads make good Mom Jeans targets!

Get real. Bodies change as time goes by.
Priorities change too.

Moms & Dads agree

Working hard to be able to send the twins to college somehow totally eclipses spending time in the gym to keep those washboard abs in show-off shape.

Paying for braces for those teen teeth means that questions about fashion are likely to be replaced by far more practical concerns:

  1. Does it fit at all?
  2. Is it clean enough?
  3. Does it need mending?  Or ironing?
  4. Can I breathe in it?

And who cares anyway?

When grownups start dressing to please the average teen (or Madison Avenue Marketing Exec), the world will be in worse shape than it is already.

Everybody knows they won’t be pleased until they are decades older themselves, no matter what we choose to put on our bodies.

And aren’t we pleased as punch that we are no longer in the throes of a time when fitting in with the in-crowd – or rebelling against them – was all that mattered?

Still, being comfortable in our own skin doesn’t necessarily mean giving up, giving in, freezing solid in time, or attempting to keep up with the Joneses’ kids.

Change your Clothes, Change your Brain

So I am continuing the 3-part series with Fashion Blogger Jodie Filogomo of Jodie’s Touch of Style.  We are using the various ways in which women play with the idea of  fashion at different points of their lives to illustrate the importance of play, choice and change to healthy brain aging, taking advantage of the miracle of neuroplasticity.

Just Tuning In?

Jodie models looks and clothing more likely to appeal to 40-50-somethings, her  stepmom, Nancy is the 60’s model, and her mom, Charlotte is the 70’s model.

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10 Simple Coaching Questions to Consider


10-Step Coaching – NOT just for ADD
Things to think about that can give you a Brand New LIFE

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another coaching article for Counseling Awareness Month
Reflections: edited reposting


Begin with a pen, pencil
(or crayon!) and a pad of your favorite paper — or your favorite software on your computer (whatever you believe works best for YOU – but I promise it will work best for your brain to do it on paper).

Find a comfortable place to perch
while you meander through the ten items below.

I promised you simple – but not easy – so plan on spending 30-45 minutes or longer – as much time as you can spare, but don’t try to squeeze it all in between activities and interruptions. You need to get into a thinking space and stay there, even if that means you take it in segments.

FIRST, gather everything you are going to need
so you’re not tempting to wander away mid-process:

  • Something to write with – and on – or
  • Whatever electronic toy you swear works better for you
  • Something to drink
  • Maybe something to snack on while you work

Adjust your clothing, if you need to.  Unfasten anything that needs to be looser. Kick off your shoes if you feel like it.  Squirm around until you feel comfortable in your own skin.

Take several d-e-e-p breaths, exhaling slowly, while you think about your life as it is RIGHT NOW, before you work your way through the list below.

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A Shih Tzu’s take on Brain-based Coaching


April is Counseling Awareness Month!
and I can tell you all about how great coaching works

Guest blogger: TinkerToy

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

People coaches and dog coaches have a lot in common

And so do their clients! We all like treats and fun and attaboys — and we all hate the nasty voice!

Some coaches do that tough-love thing, but Mom doesn’t believe that the nasty voice ever works.  It just makes us too scared to keep trying.  She doesn’t even do the nasty voice when she tells me no.

And we all LOVE it when we can suddenly do something we never could before — it’s just that the things that 4-legses and 2-legses figure out how to do are different.

Mom coaches over the phone and I hang out in her office and listen in. She says the only reason I’m allowed to stay around and eavesdrop is because I can’t tell anybody except other dogs.  They don’t care anyway – they don’t even know these 2-legses.

But I’ve learned a LOT about 2-legs coaching that way, and Mom decided to let me tell you some of her coaching secrets (besides fun and laughing – there’s always a lot of that when she coaches).

FIRST you have to be ready, willing and able

Even the coaches who don’t know the first thing about how the brain works say that, but I don’t know why any coaches put it that way – kinda’ dumb if you ask me. What makes more sense is able first, then ready, and willing last of all!

When I was hardly bigger than my mom’s two fists I wasn’t able to do a lot of things I can do now easy-peasey.

Even once I got a little bigger, my tiny brain was still learning about things like eating crunchy food and running.

It took a while for my brain to be ready before it could even think about being willing to learn to do more – like where it was okay to go to the bathroom, and tricks for treats.

Not that babies are looking for coaching – that would be silly – but when grown up two-legses are sick, or in the middle of something they don’t need help with, or recovering from an operation, they might not be ABLE to add coaching to what they have to manage right then.

My Mom wants me to be sure to add that anybody who’s an active addict will never be able until they are clean and sober for at least a year and working a program. 

She says that first they have to be available for change, with a mind that’s not cloudy or thinking about drugs and stuff.

Next you have to be ready

The time has to be right and you have to make room in your days.

  • I’m never ready when I’m really sleepy, for example, not even to play some of my favorite games.
  • I’m not ready when other dogs are around either.  We all  have to have private time with our coach to be able concentrate on what were up to.
  • And I’m never ever gonna’ to be ready to cut back on my time with my fans at my Cheers bar (where everybody knows my name), even for all the best treats in the world!

Some of my mom’s earliest clients didn’t seem to be ready to make room in their schedules at all — not even for all of their appointments over the phone.

They kept missing them over and over – or calling to say that something had come up, like it was the very first time instead of mostly.

They kept themselves too busy to have time to even think about coaching tricks during the week, or do even the simplest coaching homework – like making a list of their challenges or something – and they weren’t ready to say no to something old  to make room for something new.

They just weren’t ready period, no matter how much they said they wanted their lives to be easier and better.

Poor Mom had to tell them to come back when they were ready. Even when she first started out and really needed the money, she never kept coaching anybody she couldn’t help.

Like CATS, for example – most cats don’t want to be ready.
They practically dare you to try to make a difference with them.

Different Rates

Mom does whatever she can to make coaching affordable for most anybody who really wants it, but she gives me the family discount (meaning free, since I don’t have any way to get money anyhow I barter with kisses).

But sometimes 2-legses haven’t made room in their budgets for their coaching fees – or else they spent the money they set aside on something they suddenly decided they simply had to have.

That meant they couldn’t keep coaching long enough for things to turn around in their lives (even for group coaching, which doesn’t cost as much as coaching with Mom privately).

That’s another way you have to be ready – for about six months for most 2-legses, according to Mom – which sounds long but really isn’t when you consider that your whole life can be more fun after you pick up a few new tricks.

Anyway, you can keep coaching for as long as you want once you know the basic tricks – even years for some of her clients.  There’s always more to learn, and she really helps 2-legses get things done from week to week, so life moves forward easier and faster.

Last but not least you have to be willing

Mom says that mostly means it has to be your own idea.  It won’t work if you’re doing it because somebody else decided it would be good for you, for example – or threatened you into it.  You probably wouldn’t let it work – like those cats.

Dog clients don’t have to worry about the next part, but 2 legses also have to be willing to tell the truth to their coach, even if that means they have to be willing to feel a little embarrassed sometimes (like when I get caught tearing up paper, for example – whenever it tempts me the room is covered in confetti before I can stop myself).

And you have to be willing to keep getting back on the horse – even though I don’t know if you have to actually be able to ride a horse to be able to get a coach.

I don’t think so, but I’m not really sure about that part.  You can ask my mom before you sign up for it, anyway.

The fun starts once you decide you are able, ready and willing!

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Happy New Year’s Life Upgrades to YOU


Resolutions? Affirmations? Intentions?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An edited reposting of an earlier idea

Drawing of a hand, arm, quill pen and paper, under the words New Year Resolutions - as if in handwriting.

A therapist I know has this to say about change:

“Everybody wants things to be different,
but nobody wants anything to change.”

He doesn’t add, “especially anything about THEM” – but I have always believed that’s what he was really talking about: the devil you know, and all that.

What IS it about change that makes us cringe?  

Never one to ask a rhetorical question without some kind of an answer gnawing at the edges of my mind, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking it is – at least where those of us with ADD/EFD brain wiring are concerned: it’s so darned disorienting.

  • JUST when we get a few processes on autopilot so that we can finally avoid the dreaded decision-making horror with every step of the process, and . . .
  • Just as we get things systematized, automated to the point where short-term memory deficits are no longer as likely to trip us up . . .
  • Some idiot updates the software and nothing works the same way anymore. (Those of us in the WordPress.com blogging community know I’m not JUST speaking metaphorically here!)

It’s beyond frustrating – it makes us feel stupid. It’s salt in an ADD/EFD wound that’s barely scabbed over to begin with.

Our only alternative is to revise and adjust, which sometimes feels like beginning anew — and often is exactly like beginning anew.

It seems that ever since the recently deceased futurist Alvin Toffler first published his only-constant-is-change Future Shock in 1970, nothing holds still for very long at all.  And, forced to adapt, we are absolutely powerless to do anything else about that but bitch.

Is it any wonder that we want to dig in our heels whenever and wherever we have a bit of power and change doesn’t seem absolutely necessary?

  • RESOLVE to change something we’re used to?
  • Change something about US?

When pigs fly, and not one moment sooner!

And yet . . .

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Productivity: Paying Attention on Purpose


Keeping our Attention on Intention
Accountability check-ins for purposeful follow-through

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

The Link between Attention and Intention

Many qualities and skills combine to produce successful follow-through. Today, we are going to focus on the importance of attention.

If you ever hope to stop scratching your head or beating yourself up over your struggles with staying on track and getting things done, understanding the implications of the concept of attention is foundational.

Every single technique I have developed, coached and taught over the last 25+ years has been structured with the underlying goal of strengthening  the attentional muscles – or compensating for them when they are weak.

No matter what your most frustrating problem is: clutter-management or up-front organization, making yourself start or procrastinating at the back end, time or mood management  — and a whole host of other challengesunderneath them all is a problem with attention allocation and management.

If you don’t understand how to work with yourself to focus your attention on what you want, when you want and for as long as you must, you’re going to have problems in some or all of those arenas.

So let’s get to it!

As I said in Brain Waves, Scans and ATTENTION —  One of the goals of comprehensive brain-based ADD Coaching is to identify areas where our clients can improve on the intentional direction of attentive awareness.  Nobody gets much done if they can’t focus very well on what they’re attempting to DO.

HOWEVER, without supportive follow-through structures in place, whether professional, partner or peer, the self-discipline to stay focused and in action for as long as it takes, is rare.

As our attention meanders from distraction to competing priority our willpower seems to drain away, leaving us wanting nothing so much as a vacation or a nap!

And then we turn on ourselves, beating ourselves up with negative thoughts and comments we’d never say to another living soul.

Related Posts: How to STOP Chasing your Tail
Productivity, Focus & Follow-through

How Come?

In case you missed it in Why Accountability Leads to Follow Through, it’s not that we’re lazy or lack sufficient motivation, even though many of us have been accused of exactly that, far too many times.

It’s that few of us realize that, no matter how strong our initial commitment, will-power requires cognitive bandwidth that is limited in supply. Just like a a muscle, it can only be exercised for so long – and handle so much – before it gives out.

We see the negative effects most dramatically in the citizens of Alphabet City, whose attentional “muscles” aren’t as strong to begin with. However, we can ALL use a little wind beneath our wings to help us keep on keepin’ on.

Related Post: From Impulsivity to Self-Control

Unfortunately, it becomes difficult to impossible to reach that happy state of managing our attention with intentionality until we understand what it is, exactly, that we are attempting to manage.

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Why Accountability Leads to Follow-through


Keepin’ on Keepin’ ON
Accountability check-ins for follow-through

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

Structures for Accountability

Have you ever gone on a weight loss diet?  Even if you are one of the few people in America who have no personal experience with that particular follow-though struggle, I’ll bet you are familiar with somebody else’s on again/off again attempts at “losing a few pounds and getting into shape.”

Psychologist Dan Ariely, author, professor and Duke University’s founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight has made a comprehensive study of self-regulation abilities.

He’s noted that people can promise themselves they will stick to a plan (as with a weight-loss diet), and have all the motivation in the world (like a serious health concern, for example) but, without external controls, most people are unlikely to follow through on their commitments to themselves.

Why else do you think so many people trying to lose weight turn to Weight Watchers and other organizations that use an accountability/motivational check-in format?

Related Post: Productivity, Focus & Follow-through

Without support and check-in structures in place, having the self-discipline to follow through for as long as it takes is rare.

  • Haven’t you noticed that you have a better shot at staying on task when someone is watching?
  • Didn’t you study more diligently when you knew a test was coming up?
  • When your follow-through energy begins to flag and you start to get discouraged, doesn’t having somebody in your corner who reminds you of how well you’ve been doing make a difference?
  • When your will-power wilts, doesn’t it help to have a champion in your corner?

It’s not that we’re lazy or lack motivation — it’s that we don’t realize that no matter how strong our initial commitment, will-power requires cognitive bandwidth that is limited in supply.

Just like a a muscle, it can only be exercised for so long – and handle so much – before it gives out.  We need a little wind beneath our wings to help us keep on keepin’ on.

Related Post: Can This ADDer be Saved?

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For a REALLY Happy New Year


2015 is breathing down our necks
(perhaps it might be wise to do more than a bit of thinking about it)

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

As I ready myself for my own Christmas celebration on Twelfth Night, let’s take a moment to focus on the other big end-of-year celebration: New Year’s Eve.

Nutshell New Years

We count backwards from ten as the clock chimes and the ball drops. We toast and kiss, and blow funny-sounding horns wearing funny-looking hats, often dressed in formal finery.  Many of us party on until dawn.

© Phillip Martin – artist/educator

Yep – that’s New Years Eve in a nutshell for many of us around the world – or at least the image in our minds.

And then what?

Regardless of how heartily we’ve partilied the night before, we awaken at some point on New Years Day, hoping for the best in the upcoming year.

Some of us even take the time to write down a few of those ubiquitous New Year’s Resolutions, without really expecting ourselves to follow through this year, anymore than the years before it.

Pinterest and the daily papers provide image upon image making fun of the practice – or at least of the people who don’t practice their practice.

And most of the plans of those who resolve and regret fail to materialize through lack of long-range planning.

To fail to plan is to plan to fail?

As I implied in a much earlier article about planning for the New Year, unless we want the upcoming year to be exactly like the one in our rear view mirror, it’s time to get busy with some change-management.

A therapist I know has this to say about change:

“Everybody wants things to be different, but nobody wants anything to change.”

He doesn’t add, “especially anything about THEM” – but I have always believed that’s what he was really talking about: the devil we know, and all that.

What IS it about change that makes us cringe?

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

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Remembrance of Selves Past


A not-so-new form of
Self-advocacy

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of the Walking A Mile in Another’s Shoes
and the ADD & Memory Series

Practically all of us here in Alphabet City have struggled to overcome what the neuropsychs call “short-term memory deficits.”  It hits the rest of the population as they grow older.

Not only does that make it tough to run our lives, day to day, it also has a negative effect on what we are able to remember about our pasts.

Since one’s memories become the fabric of one’s sense of self, self-esteem can only be battered by the trade winds of today if you have no reliable sense of past to keep you moored.

It also makes it difficult to explain ourselves, our decisions, and our conclusions – even to ourselves!

Many of you who battled with teachers who accused you of cheating because you had the answer but couldn’t “show your work” know just what I mean by that statement.

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When the Game is Rigged


Reward and acknowledgment, part 3 


By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Another in a series of articles from my upcoming book,
TaskMaster™ – see article list below

Don’t be STINGY!

Think back to my earlier reminder that, during the training phase, you make good with those cookie bribes frequently.

Remember that I said that you can reconsider what has to be done for what kind of reward once the training is complete?

Don’t forget as you reconsider, however,
that you are working with an inner KID.  

Most adults I know have lost touch with how much they loved cookies as a kid.

Oh, we remember that kids love cookies, all right, that’s not the problem.

  • In fact, most Moms resort to keeping the cookies in a place the kids can’t reach them.
  • They say they want to keep the kids from eating every single cookie in the jar.

In another unbelievable application of black and white thinking, “You may not eat all of the cookies” transforms into “You may not eat ANY of the cookies” before a three-year-old can figure out what happened.

Since Moms generally dislike interruptions when they are busy and most Mom’s are pretty busy most days, repeated requests for a cookie are quickly considered whining for a cookie. Most Moms don’t like to give in to whining.

The game is rigged!

What’s the poor kid supposed to do? You’re too busy to stop long enough to crack the cookie safe on request and in a minute never comes.

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Doling out the Cookies


Reward and acknowledgment, part 2

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Another in a series of articles from my
upcoming book, TaskMaster™
Virtue is not its own reward – Part I
LinkList to articles HERE & below

 

Before we leave the discussion about acknowledgment, lets talk about how it works.

An acknowledgment, properly executed, carries one message and one message only:  GOOD JOB!

Think about the way we talk to each other.  Think about the subtext of the messages we send when we praise.  Think about the words we use.

•  Not bad!
•  Decent!
•  Almost perfect!
•  Great!  Now try it again with your back straight.

Excuse me?  I don’t know about your inner three-year-old, but mine hears an underlying message that takes away as much as it gives.

What tries to pass for acknowledgment above leaves me with the not-so-subtle feeling that, no matter how hard I try or how much I do, I will never be “perfect enough.”

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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/EFD Overview 101


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover
Hover before clicking for more info

———————————————————————————————————————————–
I use “ADD” to include AD/HD, ADHD etc. Check out What’s in a Name for why.
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ADD/EFD BASICS: A Brief Overview

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
First article in a 5-Part  Series

Brain graphic surrounded by the following terms in various colors: disinhibition, hyperactivity, forgetfulness, inattention, distractedness, disorganization

If you are one of the many ADD/EFDers who struggles to stay focused when you read . . .

You may find that the beginning of this article is a little more slow going than most of the articles on this site — unfamiliar technical terms are always a bear!  

If you can possibly read through it, the information will be worth your effort — if only to have a bit of science to throw back at those opinionated nay-sayers who pooh-pooh the existence of ADD or EFD as valid diagnoses.

It will also help you hold your own in response to hearing or reading some idiot popping off with sound-bite logic-that-isn’t, like: “ADD is not caused by a Ritalin deficiency.”

The information “builds on itself” – the reading gets easier as you go — and I do my best to explain terms in “plain English” — well, plain-ISH, anyway!!

The rest of the articles in this series aren’t “tech-talky” – so if you CAN’T get through THIS one, don’t let it keep you from clicking through to the others.

Click HERE for the next article in this series

For those who read easily: There are tons of links to additional information on this post (dark gray, remember, so they’re not distracting while you’re trying to read what’s here) – scroll your mouse over the page and the links will almost jump out at you.  Hover for a moment before clicking and a bit of info will appear. (BTW- ALL links on THIS page will open in a NEW window or tab)

NOW, what’s up with ADD/EFD, anyway

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ABOUT ADD/EFD & STRESS


Low Stress Tolerance

Sez WHO!?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of The Challenges Inventory™ Series

One of the many things you will read about ADD/EFD and those who are diagnosed with any of what I call the Alphabet Disorders is that we have a tough time dealing with stress — what is referred to as “low stress tolerance.”

While true in one sense, I would like to suggest some alternative explanations for what masquerades as a lower-than-average ability to deal with stress.

Everybody has a problem with stress. 

Nobody reacts well to it in the long run.

In the articles “filed” in the category with this one, I will explore stress from a number of vantage points, beginning with the clear statement that, in the twenty-first century, stress is endemic – something everyone must find a way to manage.  It is not a problem confined to those with Executive Functioning Disorders.

With the perception of a threat to our well-being, our bodies are designed to respond rapidly and efficiently with what’s termed the “fight or flight” reaction. The survival of our genetic ancestors depended on their biological ability to respond effectively to dangers where strength needed to be marshaled immediately.  

Only those who survived stayed around to contribute their DNA to the human gene pool, passing down that hair-trigger alertness to danger – what we now call the stress response – to the next generation.

Since the evolution of our biology has not been able to keep pace with the evolution of our technology,  that hair-trigger response to stress has continued to be passed down in our genetic code, even though it is now more likely to contribute to our demise than our salvation.

You and I were born with a neurochemical ability to become flooded with everything we need to outrun or outfight dangers we will never encounter in the lives we live today. Yet we still respond to the stressors we encounter with the same flooding of chemicals.

And boy does modern life offer opportunities to trigger that response!

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