Overcoming the bad to get to the GOOD



The Power of Positive Thinking
Moving past WHAT & WHY to get to HOW

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In the Executive Functioning Series

Memory and Energy Management

Visiting a few blogs as I begin to populate a brand new Pinterest Board [Our TBR Lists], I clicked over to add one of  D.G. Kaye’s books, “Words We Carry.”  (Some of you may already know that D.G. Kaye is the name under which blogger Debby Gies pens her many books)

I jumped over to read and “like” a few reviews on the Amazon site for this book, and my eyes took note of something that read like what is often referred to as the publisher’s blurb.

Sharing her journey toward overcoming the demons of low self-esteem with the determination to learn to love herself, Kaye’s book allows us to see clearly how hurtful events in our lives can linger, and set the tone for our lives.

I was instantly reminded of an article I posted over three years ago now, on a topic I believe it’s time to revisit: our tendency to collect and carry every stick and stone that has ever broken our bones.  [Are we hard-wired to focus on the bad news?].

I began that article with a question that I think is an important one:
“How come the bad stuff sticks and the good stuff fades??” 

On the way to answering that question I asked another, in response to a comment from one of my virtual friends, essentially this:

I have lived 365 days times my years on this earth.
They can’t all be keepers — and this one wasn’t.

While that’s a wonderful lens through which to look at our occasional experiences of one of those days,  my brain immediately popped in another question:

Why CAN’T all the days be keepers?

I mean, why don’t we just filter out the crummy parts and file away what was good about the day so that ALL of our memories are pleasant and uplifting?

I’m aware, I went on to say, that Pollyanna isn’t exactly everybody’s idea of their favorite role model, but WHY NOT?

I believe I did a good job explaining why our brains tend to hang on to the “warnings” – a memory technique that was extremely pro-survival.

It’s helpful to understand why whenever we are agonizing over yet another of those negative thoughts inspired by some of our earliest experiences.

However, I don’t believe that it is exactly pro-LIFE to allow our brain to continue to have its way with us – especially when we can retrain it.

Life-lessons from my clients

As I continue to say, my clients bring more than a few “juggling struggles” to their coaching calls. They frequently call for their appointments with resolve and hope tarnished by the latest disaster . . . which reminds them of an earlier one, and off we go.

We spend the session in another way entirely, as I practically drag them over to reliving their successes. They hang up with a much better view of themselves — one that empowers them to “get back on the horse” to gallop full speed ahead once more — until the next time something stops them cold and we revisit the process.

We all do it until we train ourselves not to.
And those “positivity” reminders don’t help until we do.
Wrong technique.

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PTSD Awareness Post 2017 – Part II


June was PTSD Awareness Month
Adding to our awareness – Part II

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Updated Refliections Post
Self-Health Series
Part I HERE

“Emotions are very good at activating thoughts,
but thoughts are not very good at controlling emotions.

~  Joseph LeDoux

Since my Sleep Awareness post somehow jumped the queue and was posted at the same time as Part-1 of this article, I decided to wait a bit to give readers a shot at catching up.  Again, my apologies for seeming to inundate with info – it was not intentional.

This Part may seem long, but much of the first half is review — so those of you who read Part-1 will be able to skim through it quickly.

Identifying PTSD

PTSD can present in a variety of ways, with more than a few symptoms in common with depression, in addition to any or all of those characterizing other anxiety disorders.

As I explained in Part I, PTSD is now believed to be caused by a neuro-chemical alteration in the brain in response to exposure to trauma. It holds us prisoner, responding in the moment to threats from the past.

Unprocessed trauma continues to haunt us, eroding our sense of safety and security. As a result, it can keep us stuck in an amygdala-defensive emotional pattern that may induce a variety of symptoms over which we feel we have no control.

In fact, we cannot control them in the moment.  Current therapies are focused on helping us to change our subsequent response to them.

Exposure to trauma physically changes the structure of the brain, upsetting the neurochemical balance needed to respond appropriately, faster than we can over-ride cognitively.

It seems that repeated experience of traumatic events, especially when left to fester unprocessed, can prevent rebalancing, which prevents healing (meaning, allowing the past to remain in the past, confident that you have the strength to handle whatever life throws your way in the future).

In other words, our brains are designed to respond neuro-chemically when our safety is threatened, regardless of what we think about it logically or how we feel about it emotionally.

  • Some of us are able to process those perfectly normal and appropriate fearful responses and move forward.
  • Others of us, for a great many reasons science is still trying to understand, are not.
  • At this point in time, we move forward primarily with statistics.

Statistics explored in Part I

In the previous section of this article we also looked at the prevalence of PTSD compared to the total number of people who ever experienced trauma in their lives.  We took a look at the various risk factors for developing PTSD following exposure to trauma.

You saw that the risk was effectively double for women, and that significantly more women are exposed to trauma in their lives than their male friends and relatives – and that recovery times tended to be longer.

Approximately 50% – five out of every ten women – will experience a traumatic event at some point during their lifetime, according to the The National Center for PTSD, a division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

One in ten of those women will develop PTSD as a result.

Inadequate understanding & treatment

Science is still looking for many of the pieces of the PTSD puzzle.

Even though a variety of therapies can help relieve PTSD symptoms, at the current time there is no “cure” – or prevention – nor is there an adequate explanation for how exposure to the same trauma can affect different individuals to different degrees of severity.

We also do not have definitive treatment protocols equally effective for everyone who experiences PTSD.

Brain-based research

Right now it looks like the difference between who recovers from trauma and who is more likely to develop PTSD may turn out to have a genetic component.

It may be also be linked to the size of specific areas of the brain, which could be a product of genetics or epigentics (how your internal and external environments change the expression of your genes).

Related Posts:
Making Friends with CHANGE
A Super Brief and Basic Explanation of Epigenetics for Total Beginners (off-site)

While controversial, the most recent research ties the development of PTSD to the size of an area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is primarily known for its role in the formation of non-disordered memories.

Greater size indicates a greater ability to recover from trauma.

A smaller hippocampus may increase the risk of developing PTSD as well as the severity of its symptoms, and/or lengthen the duration and recovery time.

Some studies suggest that repeated exposure to stress may actually damage the hippocampus, through the repeated release of the stress-hormone cortisol.

Related Posts:
Hippocampal volume and resilience in PTSD
Brain region size associated with response to PTSD treatment

So perhaps PTSD is hormonal?

Cortisol is a mobilizing hormone.  We need it. We might not even get up off the couch without it. However, it is most widely known for its assistance motivating the body for rapid and effective response to a stressful or life-threatening event – our “fight or flight” reaction.

Problems result because our brains and bodies are not designed
to live in a state of persistent and protracted stress.

Scientists have long suspected the role of cortisol in PTSD.  They have been studying it, with inconclusive results, since findings in the 1980s connected abnormal cortisol levels to an increased PTSD risk

A study reported in early 2011 by researchers at Emory University and the University of Vermont found that high blood levels of the hormone PACAP (pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide), produced in response to stress, are linked to PTSD in women — but not in men.

PACAP is known to act throughout both body and brain, modulating metabolism, blood pressure, immune function, CNS activity [central nervous system], and pain sensitivity.

Its identification as an indicator of PTSD may lead to new diagnostics and to effective treatments — for anxiety disorders overall, as well as PTSD in particular.

But maybe not cortisol alone

Findings published early this year in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology point to cortisol’s critical role in the emergence of PTSD only when levels of testosterone are suppressed [April 2017, Volume 78, Pages 76–84 ]

Testosterone is one of most important of the male sex hormones,
but is is also found in women, albeit in much lower concentrations.

According to UT Austin professor of psychology Robert Josephs, the first author of the study:

“Recent evidence points to testosterone’s suppression of cortisol activity, and vice versa.

It is becoming clear to many researchers that you can’t understand the effects of one without simultaneously monitoring the activity of the other.

Prior attempts to link PTSD to cortisol may have failed because the powerful effect that testosterone has on the hormonal regulation of stress was not taken into account.”

PTSD Risk Can Be Predicted by Hormone Levels Prior to Deployment, Study Says

What we think we know for sure

What science does believe it now knows is that PTSD is a result of both the event that threatens injury to self or others, and the emotional, hormonal response to those events that involve persistent fear or helplessness.

At this time, the goal of PTSD treatment is to reduce, if not eliminate, chronic fear-based emotional and physical symptoms to improve the quality of day-to-day life.

Research is ongoing to see if it is possible to chemically block the development of PTSD by blocking the formation of fear memories.

Blocking human fear memory with the matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor doxycycline

Current treatments are limited to psychotherapy, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) or other types of counseling/coaching, and/or medication, along with less well-known and less widely accepted attempts at intervention like EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique: “tapping”) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

The value of information

Before we explore the variety of treatments currently available (in a future article), let’s take a look at some of the symptoms associated with PTSD.  It will help you understand your own or those of a loved-one with PTSD.

Understanding, empathy and self-acceptance walk hand in hand – which are healing all by themselves.

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2017 PTSD Awareness Post – Part I


June is PTSD Awareness Month
Adding to our awareness and understanding

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

“Emotions are very good at activating thoughts,
but thoughts are not very good at controlling emotions.

~  Joseph LeDoux

What We’ve Learned from LeDoux: Mechanisms of Fear

Cognitive neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux is an NYU professor and a member of the Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology at New York University.

In addition to his work focused on the neural mechanisms of emotion and memory, he is also the director of the Center for the Neuroscience of Fear and Anxiety — a multi-university Research Center in Manhattan using research with rats to explore and attempt to understand the mechanisms of pathological fear and anxiety in humans (which LeDoux prefers to call “extreme emotional reactions to the threat response”)

Essentially, when we are looking at PTSD, we are talking about individuals stuck in a particular type of FEAR response — responding in the present to threats from the past.

PTSD sufferers appear to be at the mercy of the reappearance of memories and resulting emotions because they lack immediate conscious control.

For many years, neuroscientists believed that the cortex, the most recently evolved, wrinkly outer covering of the human brain, was required for the processing of any kind of conscious experience, even those triggered by a sensory input resulting in an emotional response.

Thanks to the work of LeDoux and his colleagues at The LeDoux Lab, we now know that this information can be chemically transmitted through the brain in an additional manner using a pathway that bypasses the cortex, allowing our emotions to be triggered unconsciously, faster than the speed of thought.

In other words, our brains are designed to respond neuro-chemically when our safety is threatened, regardless of what we think about it logically or how we feel about it emotionally.

How traumatic events intensify the threat response

According to current scientific understanding, experiencing traumatic events can change the way our brains function.

PTSD develops when we get stuck in the “ready to act” survival mode as the memory cycle repeats and strengthens the emotional responses to the original traumatic event in reaction to some sort of trigger.

The stress hormone cortisol strengthens memories of traumatic experiences, both while the memory is being formed for the first time, and afterwards.

Every time our brain gathers the pieces of memory’s puzzle and puts them back together – a process known as reconsolidation – cortisol is released anew as we are reminded of a traumatic experience.

Previous studies using scanning technology have shown that people with PTSD have altered brain anatomy and function.

Subsequent research on the connection between PTSD and brain-based disorders — including those associated with dementia and TBI [traumatic brain injury] — indicate that trauma itself actually changes structures in the brain.

In the face of an overwhelming feeling of fear, our lifesaving-in-the-moment set of adaptive responses leave behind ongoing, long-term and brain scan-observable physical residuals that can result in psychological problems as well as attendant physical symptoms.

Trauma upsets the brain’s chemical balance

Synchronization of the activity of different networks in the brain is the fundamental process that facilitates the transmission of detailed information and the triggering of appropriate behavioral responses. The brain accomplished this task through the use of chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters.

Synchronization is crucial for sensory, motor and cognitive processes, as well as the appropriate functioning of the circuits involved in controlling emotional behavior.

Synchronization is a balancing act

Researchers from Uppsala University and the medical university Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm have shown that in people with PTSD there is an imbalance between serotonin and substance P, two of the brain’s neuro-chemical signalling systems.

The greater the imbalance,
the more serious the symptoms.

It seems that repeated experience of traumatic events, especially when left to fester unprocessed, can prevent rebalancing, which prevents healing (meaning, allowing the past to remain in the past, feeling confident that you have the strength to handle whatever life throws your way in the future).

Related Post: PTSD reveals imbalance between signalling systems in the brain

Responding to threats of danger

Our nervous system developed to greatly increase the chances that we would remain alive to procreate in the presence of threats to safety and security. We wouldn’t live long at all if we lacked a mechanism to allow us to detect and respond to danger – rapidly.

When our safety is threatened, a survival response automatically kicks in — before the brain circuits that control our slower conscious processes have had time to interpret that physiological response that is occurring “under the radar.”

Initially, there is no emotion attached to our automatic response to threat. In other words, fear is a cognitive construct.

Our individual perceptions of the extent of the danger we just experienced or witnessed is what adds velocity to the development of fearful emotions, even if our feeling response follows only a moment behind.

Some of us are able to process those perfectly normal and appropriate fearful responses and move forward. Others of us, for a great many different reasons, are not.

Many of those who are not able to process and move forward are likely to develop one or more of the anxiety disorders, while others will develop a particular type of anxiety disorder we call PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Related articles:
When Fear Becomes Entrenched & Chronic
Understanding Fear and Anxiety

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Complex PTSD Awareness


C-PTSD Awareness
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Trauma

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

One of the factors of PTSD is that some people seem to have severe cases while others do not — that some soldiers were more vulnerable to extreme trauma and stress than others.

As an explanation for some of these complications it has been suggested and researched that there is a form of PTSD that is called DESNOS [Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified]. Another term is C-PTSD or Complex-PTSD. ~  Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D

 

Relatively Recent Distinction & Debate

Many traumatic events that result in PTSD are of time-delimited duration — for example, short term military combat exposure, rape or other violent crimes, earthquakes and other natural disasters, fire, etc.  However, some individuals experience chronic trauma that continues or repeats for months or years at a time.

There is currently a debate in the Mental Health community that centers around the proposed need for an additional diagnosis. Proponents assert that the current PTSD diagnosis does not fully capture the core characteristics of a more complex form – symptoms of the severe psychological harm that occurs with prolonged, repeated trauma.

Let’s DO It

One of the longest-standing proponents is Dr. Judith Herman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Harvard University Medical School. She is well respected for her unique understanding of trauma and its victims, and has repeatedly suggested that a new diagnosis of Complex PTSD [C-PTSD] is needed to distinguish and detail the symptoms of the result of exposure to long-term trauma.

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PTSD Overview – Awareness Post


June is PTSD Awareness Month
PTSD Signs and Symptoms

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

“Emotions are very good at activating thoughts,
but thoughts are not very good at controlling emotions.

~  Joseph LeDoux

Responding in the present to threats from the past

Life itself required the development of the ability to detect and respond to danger – so our nervous system evolved to greatly increase the chances that we will remain alive in the presence of threats to safety and security.

When our lives are threatened, a survival response automatically kicks in — before the brain circuits that control our conscious awareness have had time to interpret that physiological response occurring “under the radar.” Initially, there is no emotion attached to our automatic response to threat.  Fear is a cognitive construct.

Our individual perceptions of the extent of the danger we just witnessed or experienced personally is what adds velocity to the development of fearful emotions, even if our feeling response follows only a moment behind.

Some of us are able to process those perfectly appropriate fearful responses and move forward. Others of us, for a great many different reasons, are not.

Many of those who are not able to process and move forward are likely to develop one or more of the anxiety disorders, while others will develop a particular type of anxiety disorder doctors call PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Related articles:
When Fear Becomes Entrenched & Chronic
Understanding Fear and Anxiety

An Equal Opportunity Destroyer

While we hear most about the challenges of PTSD in soldiers, it is not limited to those returning from combat.

Individuals have been diagnosed with PTSD as the result of a great many different traumas: accidents, assaults, natural disasters, serious illnesses and more. It can develop in the wake of almost any traumatic event. (Situations in which a person feels intense fear, helplessness, or horror are considered traumatic.)

Trauma is especially common in women; 50% – five out of every ten women – will experience a traumatic event at some point during their lifetime, according to the The National Center for PTSD, a division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

According to VA research and experience, approximately eight million Americans will experience PTSD in a given year, including both civilian and military populations.  That number is quite likely to be low, since many people never seek treatment for PTSD, or even admit to themselves that PTSD is what they are experiencing.

Related Post: Interesting PTSD Statistics

According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, individuals likely to develop PTSD include:

  • Victims of violent crime (including victims of physical and sexual assaults, sexual abuse, as well as witnesses of murders, riots, terrorist attacks);
  • Members of professions where violence is likely, experienced, or witnessed often or regularly, especially first-responders (for example, anyone in the armed forces, policemen and women, journalists in certain niches, prison workers, fire, ambulance and emergency personnel), including those who are no longer in service, by the way;
  • Victims of war, torture, state-sanctioned violence or terrorism, and refugees;
  • Survivors of serious accidents and/or natural disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, etc.);
  • Women following traumatic childbirth, individuals diagnosed with a life-threatening illnesses;
  • Anything resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI), leaving you struggling with the ongoing trauma of trying to live a life without the cognitive or physical capabilities you thought you would always be able to count on.

Sufferers may also develop further, secondary psychological disorders as complications of PTSD.  At its base, however, we are talking about individuals stuck in a particular type of FEAR response.
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Getting to “Good ENOUGH”


Discovering YOUR Perfect Balance

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
From the Activation Series

click image for source

click image for source

Lowering your standards

“Don’t think of ‘good enough’ as settling for something inferior or imperfect, think of it as striking a perfect balance.”  ~ Dylan Reeve

In the previous article, The Virtues of Lowering your Standards, I refuted the idea that any “job worth doing” was worth doing WELL.

As I said, “It’s always seemed to me that if the job’s worth doing at all, any forward progress is good forward progress.

I also made the point that any shade of completion beats chronic indecision andprocrastination– hands down!

While both of the above are certainly true, I also wanted to encourage you to embrace good enough for the tactical advantages that a more BALANCED approach to life offers – along with positive results for your struggles with activation.

In an interview from the blog good experience, the author of “The Paradox of Choice” insists that only on rare occasions is it worth struggling to find the best — that it makes life simpler if you settle with good enough.

“You don’t have to make an exhaustive search – just until you find something that meets your standards, which could be high.

But the only way to find the absolute best is to look at
ALL the possibilities.

And in that case you’ll either give up, or if you choose one, you’ll be nagged by the possibility that you may have found something better.” ~ author Barry Schwartz – Paradox of Choice
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The Virtues of Lowering your Standards


 When “Good enough” is Good ENOUGH!

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

Let’s delve deeper into a couple of foundational problems,
particularly for those of us with Executive Functioning dysregulations:

* struggles with activation, and
* the perils of falling victim to black and white thinking.

Hand in hand, each exacerbates the other,
until it’s truly a miracle we ever get anything done at all!

To the neurodiverse AND the neurotypical

On a very different kind of blog, post-production supervisor and self-professed Edit Geek shared his thoughts on the very topic I planned to write about today (the image above is his). He began and ended his relatively brief article with a wonderful synopsis of exactly what I am about to tackle in this article.

In Defense Of ‘Good Enough’

For many people . . . ‘good enough’ is a dirty word. It suggests a lack of care or investment. I think good enough [needs to be] be embraced.

Knowing what is good enough for the work you’re doing allows you to invest [your resources] in the places that will benefit the most.”

The last line of his article is perfect:

“Don’t think of ‘good enough’ as settling for something inferior or imperfect, think of it as striking a perfect balance.”  ~ Dylan Reeve

NOW, let me fill in the middle

. . . from a slightly different vantage point, for a different life-application, speaking to a completely different “audience.”

Chinese finger-trapA Chinese Finger Trap

EVEN THOUGH doing the very BEST one can may seem laudable to a great many productivity gurus, that desire often creates time management problems for practically everyone, and frequently leads to rumination and inaction for many of us.

While the neurodiverse among us are noodling the very best way to tackle something, we’re generally doing nothing much at all otherwise — nothing much that will keep our lives from falling apart, that is — nevermind much of anything that will move us forward.

In an unconscious attempt to calm our rising task anxiety we tend to seek out what I call “avoidance activities” – internet browsing, FaceBook updating, LinkedIn discussing, friending, tweeting, texting, twiddling.  Puttering.

The harder we try to free ourselves from lack-of-activation, the tighter we’re stuck in rumination and awfulizing.

Any shade of completion beats chronic indecision and “procrastination” – hands down!

 

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Lead us Not into Temptation


Gettin’ UP and Gettin’ Going – Part III

Two more of my TEN “Practices” that beat back
ACTIVATION struggles

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

click images for source

click images for sources

FREE CHEESE!
always available
in mousetraps.

We humans are a funny lot.  We’ll do practically anything to run away from the feeling of task anxiety — except the task itself, of course.

There are always consequences.

The following portion of this article will increase your task anxiety awareness as it illuminates what you need to pay attention to whenever you note that task anxiety is a significant contributor to your lack-of-activation struggles.

But lets do a quick review of the first six tips before we go on to number seven.

In Parts 1 and 2 of this article we covered the following six of my Top Ten Tips to Combat “Laziness:”

1. Medication can help, but not by itself
2. Avoid shoulds and should-ers – and know why you must
3. Write it down, write it down, write it down
4. Distinguish Task Anxiety and begin there
5. Feed your head
6. Go like Glenda

If you haven’t read part one, read it HERE.
Read part two HERE

NOW we’re going to take a look at #7 and #8:

7. Stay off the Slide
8. Best breathing for best focus

Before we conclude with:
* Cross it off, cross it off, cross it off
* RATE IT – both before and after

If on-screen reading is frustrating for you, even with the article broken into parts,
try taking it ONE Practice at a time.

Okay – lets get right back to it!

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When Fear Becomes Entrenched & Chronic


Chronic Anxiety & PTSD
Understanding Fear & Anxiety – Part 2

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

When what happened leaves marks

broken-legIf you broke your leg, you’d go get it set, right?

Whether it was a little break or something catastrophic that required an operation and pins, you would feel “entitled” to go for professional help and would have no doubt that you needed it, right?

While you were in a cast, you’d probably have the good sense not to try to walk on that broken leg. Most of the people around you would be able to understand without explanation that you needed crutches to get around.  Right? It would go without saying that you had to take it easy while you healed.

EVEN if you broke your leg doing something stupid that was entirely your own fault, you would probably feel very little shame about having a broken leg – a little embarrassed, perhaps, but you’d still allow yourself to get what you needed to heal.

YET, when the problem is mental, we tend to try to soldier on alone. 

  • Maybe we think things are not “bad enough” that we are entitled to professional help.
  • Maybe the stigma still associated with the term “mental illness” stops us cold.
  • We probably find ourselves struggling with the concern that others might believe we are weak or over-reacting if we can’t seem to pull things back together alone.
  • Perhaps we have collapsed psychological difficulties with “crazy,” and we certainly don’t want to believe we are crazy!

The only thing that is CRAZY is denying ourselves the help it would take to manage whatever it is that we are struggling with so that we can get back to being our own best selves – and most of us are a little bit crazy in that way.  I know I am, in any case.

In one masterful stroke of unconscious black and white thinking, we label ourselves powerless when we are unable to continue on without help, struggling against impossible situations sometimes, as things continue to worsen — if we’re lucky.

  • Because when things continue to get worse, it will eventually become obvious that we are clearly not okay.
  • We’ll eventually reach a place where it will be impossible to deny ourselves the help we need to heal.
  • If we’re not lucky, we are able to continue living life at half mast: limp-along lives that could be SO much healthier and happier.
  • If we’re not lucky, our mental reserves will be worn out by limping along, and we are likely to reach a place where it seems as if our dominant emotion is anger, or we will slide into chronic, low-level depression – or worse.

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Understanding Fear & Anxiety


Moving Beyond the Fears
and Anxieties that Keep us STUCK (Part 1)

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

FEAR: The primal emotion most studied in neuroscience

fear

The study of fear has consumed many hundreds of researchers for decades. The events following 9/11 and the war in Iraq has only bolstered this field of research. 

Finding new molecules that erase traumatic memories (or enable soldiers to keep from feeling fear) are research priorities in the United States.

~ Dream Life of Rats: Pure Science Specials (season one, episode six;
originally aired on 5/29/2013)

 

Platitudes Begone!

Troll the internet – or browse the shelves of your local library – and you will find a blue-million self-help offerings with advice to help you conquer “fear.” The majority of them hold out the promise that they can teach you to “feel the fear and do it anyway” or “stop fearing change to change your fear,” and other related blather. 

These ways of working may help with lack of activation or with task anxiety but they will rarely make much of a dent in fear.

They’re lightweights, those offerings – their authors really don’t understand the extent to which many people experience FEAR. Most of them are, metaphorically, pushing anti-heartburn remedies to help with heart attacks. They’re talking about situationally-induced moments of anxiety that our self-help culture mislabels “fear.”

If you are one of the many who are periodically frozen by anxiety disorders, reeling from a recent and dramatic accident, suffering from flashbacks related to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and other more extreme situations that prompted more extreme emotional responses, pouring through those offerings looking for HELP will only increase your feelings of helplessness, which will very likely increase your feelings of fear.

  • Throwing those simplistic offerings in the garbage is the first step toward real healing.
  • Understanding what’s going on is the second step.
  • Allowing yourself to reach out to professionals who specialize in PTSD or TBI is certainly worth considering seriously, and
  • Patience is the fourth key: giving your nervous system time to heal as you reframe your approach to life and de-condition your fear response.

By the way, if you are among the majority of folks who are currently stopped by one of those “situationally-induced moments of anxiety that our self-help culture mislabels ‘fear,'” the information in this article can help you, too (but you might want to hang on to those other offerings to read later).

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Are we hard-wired to focus on the bad news?



How come the bad stuff sticks
and the good stuff fades??

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Linking and Learning

Musings on the Machinations of Memory

FacebookLikeAwakening early today, I had time to justify a rare jaunt through FaceBook to catch up on whatever was going on with my life-long friends.  I was struck by how very many are struggling with emotional reactions to losing loved-ones to death and dementia.

We are at that stage of life, I suppose, where loss will become something that we must learn to live with more and more.

My thoughts began to take a right turn as I gazed at all of the black and white memorial photos of mothers and aunts and fathers and uncles from days gone by.

Unlined, full of hope, long before brows became furrowed with memories of struggle.  How would they have looked in those photos, I wondered, if they could have known what the next five or more decades would hold?

Moving along, “liking” here, commenting there, I came upon a another of those “getting my frustrating day off my chest” posts by one of my FaceBook Friends that began with an interesting reframe, essentially this: I have lived 365 days times my years on this earth.  They can’t all be keepers — and this one wasn’t.

While that’s a wonderful lens through which to look at our occasional experiences of one of those days,  why CAN’T all the days be keepers?

Why don’t we just cut out the crummy parts and file away what was good about the day?

Why are we so drawn to discussing the dark and dismissing the lighter as fluffy or something?  I mean, I’m aware that Pollyanna isn’t exactly everybody’s idea of their favorite role model, but why NOT?

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Open Loops, Distractions and Attentional Dysregulation


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

The Importance of Closing Open Loops


© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Part of the Intentionality & Memory Series

photo credit: Matthieu Aubry via Flikr - (c) Creative Commons

photo credit: Matthieu Aubry via Flikr – ©Creative Commons


An
“open loop” is my term referring to a step to be accomplished before an activity or thought process can be “put away.”

Only once a task has been “put away” does the Prefrontal Cortex [PFC] voluntarily let it go.

Until then, it continues to “ping” the stored reminder of where we were in the process —
to keep it “active” in our working memory banks, even when we are not “actively”
thinking about it.

Completions are “closed loops” – whether we have completed an entire task or an identified portion – a “chunk” that we have set before ourselves – fulfilling our expectation that we will take the step or accomplish the task or activity, which “closes” the loop.

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The Procrastination Puzzle & the ADD Brain-style


from deviantart – by ~F3LiPaO

Organizing Oopses

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC
About Procrastination — Part 2
part of the Intentionality Series, with links
to Organization and Task Completion

Review Part I first: Procrastination and Task Anxiety – or the “Mr. Amygdalla” comments & “certainty and cognitive dissonance” info will be half as effective as they could be.

Jigsaw Juggernauts

People with the ADD brain-style (EFDs) seem to have difficulty “putting it all together” – which tends to lead to disorganization and what the rest of the world labels “procrastination.”

In a youthful “neurotypical” brain, inputs from the outer world (i.e., through our senses) seem to be recorded with some kind of tagging for sequence, in some fashion science doesn’t exactly understand yet.

Metaphorically only, what was observed first gets position #1, while an incoming data bite some 90 seconds later might be “tagged” with something like #321 (and all of the bits and bytes seem to be able to hang on to their little tags until called on to perform!)

That makes it fairly easy for them to call all the bits back and line them up at showtime — for example, when attempting to stay tracked on the threads of a conversation, facilitating dialogue in ways that “make sense” in terms of what is said in response to what, as well as when various pearls of wisdom get dropped onto the conversational ping pong table.

For those of us with Executive Functioning challeges – not so much!

When our attention wanders, our brain’s do what all brains do with incomplete pictures: they fill in the holes with what they expect to find there, based on what’s in its “files” of past experience.

The human brain is nothing so much as a pattern recognition machine – a puzzle put-together champ of the highest order.

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The Link between Procrastination & Task Anxiety


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

Part 1 about Procrastination —
part of the Intentionality Series, supporting
Organization and Task Completion

The terror of tiered tasks

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

farm3.staticflickr.com

farm3.staticflickr.com

I’ve developed a new philosophy…
I only dread one day at a time.
~
Charlie Brown
(Charles Schulz
 

A tiered task is one where you need to “insert tab A into slot B”, but first you need to insert some other tab into some other slot — which you can’t do until you insert still another tab into still another slot.

That’s it! Most people with attentional challenges can stay tracked for about three “tiers” before they begin to hear the warning signals of impending Boggle and run screaming to avoid it!

I know I do.

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Reframing Change for World Leaders


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while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

Leading toward a vision YOU create

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the What Kind of World do YOU Want? series

“Most people try to get others to change.”

“Instead, when leading consciously,
you use the power you have to
intentionally choose actions
that can make a profound difference
in your interactions with others –
both personally and professionally.”
Jean Kantambu Latting

Leading Consciously

If you are unfamiliar with Leading Consciously and Jean Latting, allow me to introduce you to your new best friend.

Although those of you who are regular visitors may have noticed her comments and my replies at the end of some of the articles here, I have been unable to decide how to share more of her wisdom until now.

She is not an ADD/EFD resource, after all — and this is an ADD/EFD-focused blog.

I couldn’t figure out the right “hook” that would allow you to understand why I find what she writes about so uplifting and encouraging — and so unbelievably relevant to those of us who often struggle with leading ourselves out the front door in a conscious manner!

Perhaps, unconsciously, I launched the What Kind of World? series to find a place to introduce Jean, and a great many resources like her.

These adopted mentors and inspirational colleagues don’t necessarily work with ADD or ADDers, and they don’t completely understand the ADD experience — but they are open to attempting to understand, and they admire all attempts at conscious co-creation.

Because they understand human beings, they embrace all of humanity.  It feels so refreshingly good to be embraced, doesn’t it? How lovely it is to be encouraged to reach and grow, rather than criticized or made fun of for being unwilling or unable to live inside somebody else’s box.

We share a single vision, albeit glimpsed from individual vantage points:
A world that works for EVERYONE.

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