Slow-cooking CHANGE


Metaphors of Mind & Brain Redux
edited excerpt from Our Brains, Crock Pots™ and Microwaves (Jan. 2015)

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

The way in which my brain is rather like a Crock Pot™ frequently comes to mind. I put more than a few things in “slow-cook” mode, figuring that I’ll be better able to handle them later, and that they will still be “digestible” if I forget about them for a while.

By giving ourselves permission to do things our own way on our own timetables, our brain responds with a way to solve problems and work around challenges that works best for us.

I frequently use the term “slow-cook” as a communication short-cut when I coach. It is especially useful when I work with change resistance.

In my many years working with all sorts of individuals I have observed that what trips us up most is a process akin to denial – that just because something works for the rest of the world it darn well should work for us too!

If you want to understand how you work,
you need to pay deliberate attention
to how YOU work! Duh!

Until we begin to observe the unique manner in which we respond and react, we unconsciously defend or attack ourselves from expectations that, somewhere deep inside, we know are unrealistic, given our particular flavor of whatever is going on with us.

That way lies madness!

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ADDing to Subtract


How much change can you tolerate
before you STOP trying to cope?

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

We HATE to give things up

Have you ever tried to convince a kid to give away a toy – even a toy s/he no longer plays with and, truth to tell, never cared much for in the first place?

Most kids will take quite a bit of convincing, and some will throw a fit and refuse.

Truly clever Moms and Dads replace the toy with something new – putting the emphasis on what their kids are getting rather than what they are giving up.

And most parents who follow the “one-in/one-out” rule figure out very quickly that the swap needs to be agreed upon UP FRONT.

If they can get the child to fork over the old toy before they receive the new one, so much the better.

An Overwhelmed Brain says NO!

Have you ever allowed yourself to get in over your head?  In your home, for example, have things ever gotten so messy that you begin to doubt your ability to ever clean it up?

I refer to it as being “over my limit.”  Finding myself over my limit happens to me regularly.

  • It happens every single time I move to a new home, for example, or the times I’ve been too sick to have the energy to do much beyond making it to the kitchen or the bathroom and back to bed.
  • It also happens during (and following) any period where the serious illness of a close friend or family member shifts my priorities.
  • Things seem to get worse every day.

Suddenly – or so it seems – I can’t cope any more.  EVERYTHING seems to be everywhere.  I can’t see the items for the clutter, and life becomes a scavenger hunt of epic proportions.

The professional organizers would probably tell me to start pitching things left and right to “clear out the clutter” – but which things?

What the neurotypical never seem to understand is that overwhelm shuts down our capacity to make effective decisions.

  • I don’t know about you, but the few times I’ve allowed myself to be pushed to toss against my better judgment have ended badly.
  • In a couple of cases, it took me months to jump through the hoops to replace something I’d tossed that I actually needed – and that’s after I’d spent a great deal of time looking for it.
  • As I grow older, I am less and less willing to throw those months under the neatness bus!  Especially since I’ve learned the hard way that “neat” and “organized” are two completely different things.  I’ll bet you have too.

Fear of Tossing?

No, I haven’t developed “fear of tossing” as a result, like some of my clients, but I HAVE learned not to jump in pitching when I’m overwhelmed.

And I’ll bet you have too – whether it is the result of a conscious decision or merely what looks like intractability to anyone watching.

  • What’s the worst thing that could happen? they ask, in their ignorance.
  • Are you kidding?  I’m barely hanging on NOW – my goose is cooked if things get worse.

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Our Brains, Crock Pots™ and Microwaves


Metaphors of Mind & Brain

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

In our attempt to understand ourselves and our environment, we often end up talking about the brain — “that three pound lump of jelly you can hold in the palm of your hand” [~V.S. Ramachandran]

Even though science has learned to quantify a great many of the elements of the brain, most of us still search for metaphors and analogies as we attempt to describe our understanding and our experiences.

In my own mind, the way in which my brain is like either a microwave or a Crock Pot™ pops up frequently – and I use the terms as communication “short-cuts” in my coaching.

Microwaves

Most ADDers love microwaves — you know, “the ‘nuker.”  The rest seem to have a love/hate relationship with them.

“Want hot coffee now!” is a powerful incentive to consider the ‘nuker a necessity in my own life, in any case.

Microwaves work with ADD Brain Wiring.  

Crock Pots™

The concept of a Crock Pot™ is greeted less enthusiastically by almost everyone in the EFD crowd, ADD or not!

“Spend energy now, then wait 6 hours for food?
What moron dreamed THAT up?”

However, there are some dandy little benefits to a slow-cooker.

It is the ultimate procrastination permission-slip, for one thing.  It seems to me that I can forget about one of those things for days and still eat the meal whenever I remember that it’s waiting for me. (Just kidding – don’t try this at home!)

Click for Source: memoriesofatime.com

I use my brain that way some times

I put some things in “slow-cook” mode, figuring that I’ll be better able to handle them later, and that they will still be “digestible” if I forget about them for a while.

By giving myself permission to do things my way on my timetable, my brain responds with a way to solve the issue that works for me.

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Boggle Bait


Phillip Martin artwork – THANKS!

Panoramic

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

Understanding Boggle Build-up

In the last section, Anticipating Boggle, you began to pay attention to the unique way that YOU build to the Boggle point, and you began to capture your personal triggers in real time.

Continue what you’ve been doing for the rest of the month, with the addition of a few more lists that will give you the perspective of specialized cycles.

That Time of the Month

Every one of us has regular dips in functioning, male or female, ADD or non. Your biological rhythms are not constant. They are, however, predictable, given close enough attention.

Have you ever taken the time to observe those times of the month when things go well, as well as those times of the month when they do not?

  • Do your eating patterns change during this period?
  • How about your sleep habits?
  • What ELSE is different?
  • How does that affect your functioning?

Write down anything you can recall from memory, and begin to pay attention to the changes through the cycle of a month as you continue to track your day-to-day Boggle triggers.

Anticipating Boggle


Jaws Music

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

All artwork on this page: courtesy of Phillip Martin

Remember the movie about the great hunt for the killer shark that turned a formerly peaceful resort town a living nightmare?

Remember the gradually building staccato music that warned the audience that something terrible was about to happen?

Not only did that musical build-up fail to make it any less startling when those great jaws suddenly loomed into view, it actually heightened the sense of anxiety and impending doom, making the appearance of that shark all the more frightening.

By the midpoint of the movie, people were squirming in their seats and holding their hands up ready to cover their faces with nothing more than the music itself, even when the visual was seemingly placid.

That Jaws music meant something dreadful was just about to happen.  The viewers had become sensitized to expect the worst from the first few notes of the theme.

Guess what? You have your own internal version of Jaws music sensitizing you to expect the worst as well.

You probably don’t consciously realize that you are poised for Boggle from the first moment that one of your early Boggle triggers is activated, but you certainly do experience a mounting sense of anxiety and dread in your body.

Just like our cave-forefather Og’s body was preparing to run like the wind from the moment he saw that first sabre tooth tiger on the horizon, you are now on high alert, fearful of what is likely to happen next unless that “Jaws music” STOPS.

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Building to Boggle


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Deja Vu all over again

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

Sherlocking Boggle Build-up

In this section you will begin to pay attention to the unique way that YOU build to the Boggle point.

Unless you are brand-spanking-new to the idea of ADD, you probably already know some of your Boggle triggers.

However, unless you have been dealing with the ADD brain-style for quite a while, I doubt that you realize how many there are, or the unique way in which certain combinations can be deadly!

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Boggle: Cooperation & Support


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Dealing with Others

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

Reasonable Accommodations

Whether you have been doing the work or not, simply by reading the articles in the Boggle series, you have begun the process of taking responsibility for your ADD in some brand new ways.

Congratulations.

A major tool is the Boggle Space. Are you ready to add it to your toolchest?

My partner will have a fit if I try to claim a space all my own.

Let’s face it — in order to set up a Boggle Space that will work for us, we will be asking for some accommodations from our loved ones.

But aren’t we already? 

Living with a loved one with ADD places a lot of demands on the rest of the family.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t want to ask for one more thing. What you are requesting is an accommodation that will lessen the other demands your ADD will place upon everyone in your life.

You do have to find a way to initiate the conversation, however, and that can be daunting, I know.

The steps of the following communication technique have been useful for some of my clients.  Adapt the language to your personal style.  Combine steps, if it makes more sense to you, but make sure you don’t skip any of the steps in the process.

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Boggle: To Design is to Decide


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Onward and Upward

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

Now you are ready to design
your Boggle Space.

Re-read through the lists you have created (in that notebook I hope you took the time to create).

We want to work with externally stored information that will allow you to work with minimal decision anxiety.  

Remind yourself what is soothing to you and what you definitely do not want around.

Don’t wait to decide at the moment you are faced with the objects in the space.

  • Deciding is one of those pre-frontal cortex stressers.
  • The farther away from the actual experience, the easier the decision.

Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to pack for a trip with a list?  That’s because you separated the process of deciding from the actual handling of clothing.  If you try to decide on the spot, ad hoc, you will have a much tougher time.  The further the decision from the action, the easier the action.

Prelude to disaster – clearing cobwebs

As I said at the end of the last article, before you go back to designing your Boggle Space, we need to clear away possible mental roadblocks to keep you from cheating yourself out of the success that you deserve.

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My favorite Boggle Room


An Example from my life

Excerpted from my upcoming Boggle Book ©Madelyn Grifith-Haynie-all rights reserved
Part 2   – CLICK HERE for Part 1 of this particular post- see below for links to  entire series 

My favorite Boggle Room —
because it was the most effective

When I was living in New York City, a high stress place if there ever was one, my Boggle Room was my bedroom.

It is one of the things I miss most about New York, now that I have relocated myself and The Optimal Functioning Institute’s “executive offices” elsewhere.

I lived in a large apartment in a pre-war elevator building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I designed my New York bedroom, a space that was much longer than wide, so that my queen-sized bed was practically in the middle of the room.  At the end of the room toward the foot of the bed I built in an entire wall of mirrored closets.

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Boggle: Driving “Miss Crazy”


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Defensive Driving!

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

Driving the very car you HAVE

Anyone who has driven an old car with a lag time between stepping on the accelerator and the acceleration of the car itself learns rather quickly that there are certain things that are invitations to disaster – trying to pass on a blind curve or a hill, for example.

We learn to work with the car by thinking ahead and including that lag time in our driving strategies.

We can learn to work with our ADD brains in the same way.

The remainder of these articles from The Boggle Book are going to teach you how to “drive” your ADD brain in a way that allows you to manage the events of your life  — before you end up in a situation that is as much an invitation to disaster as trying to pass on a blind curve in an old car.

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Boggle Background


What’s Going On Here?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Excerpted from Chapter Five of my upcoming Boggle Book ©-all rights reserved.

A Little Background

I work with ADD (my own included) as I would work with *physical* rehabilitation — even though, with ADD’s “hidden” nature, it is more difficult to see what’s working effectively, what’s not, and in what combinations.

No one would insist that rehabilitation strategies be the same for two accident victims, even if the accidents were identical and the “body damage” similar, and even if both were “textbook” cases.

You would have to START with the individuals themselves: their general fitness level, weight, complicating realities, and many other considerations.  An easy task for one patient might be well beyond the other: overt when dealing with physical realities, subtler with neurological ones.  You have to be attentive to the clues.

The most dramatic reactions are the clearest indicators because they are easiest to identify. Just as patient feedback (ouch!) leads the physical therapist, client reports of Boggle responses are dramatic starting places that suggest ways to turn “can’t” into “can” in the neurological arena.

So Let’s Start with YOU

What have you been doing to date?  When you are about to Boggle – what have you been doing so far?

Before we go into the ways to deal with Boggle effectively,
think about how you have been attempting to deal with it already.

If you are anything like my clients (and like I was myself before I figured out what would work) you are doing exactly the wrong thing when you sense oncoming Boggle.

You are trying harder.

It won’t work.

In fact, it will make things worse.

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Boggle Considerations


Five Elements of Boggle Technique

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

As I mentioned in prior Boggle articles (see list at end of this article), if you live your life anywhere on the Attentional Spectrum, there will be times when you get so distracted, so overwhelmed, SO un-focused that you simply, literally cannot function at all!

You just lose it!

Some of us scream and yell, some of us throw things, some stomp around slamming doors and cursing, some cry . . .

Boggle can look a million different ways – practically any way at all besides behaviorally appropriate!

This state is what some of the ADD experts refer to as “cognitive shutdown in response to stress.”  It’s what I call Boggle.

Let’s begin by reviewing what I have come to believe are the five key elements you need to understand and address before you can count on changing your reputation from “emotionally volatile” to “calm under pressure.”  This article will explain what I mean by the terms below.  Following articles in the Boggle series will explain what I call “Boggle Technique” in greater detail.

Boggle Technique: Five Key Areas for Focus

1.  Time Out
2.  Education
3.  Communication
4.  Sherlocking
5.  Systematizing

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ABOUT Boggle


The Boggle Book: How to STOP 
screaming at your spouse, kicking the dog,
and losing your cool, 
finally and forever!

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
© all rights reserved

Sacks on Shutdown

Oliver Sacks, a scientist fascinated with neurological differences who was brought to public attention when Robin Williams portrayed him in the screenplay Awakenings, has noted that:

“Brain systems in all animals may respond to overwhelming stimulation, or stimulation past a critical point, with a sudden shutdown.  Such reactions have nothing to do with the individual or his motives.  They are purely local and physiological and can occur even in isolated slices of [the] cerebral cortex: they are a biological defense [against] neural overload.”

p. 136, An Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks, Knopf, 1995

Overload

Anyone who has ever been labeled “emotionally volatile” experiences times when they get so distracted, so overwhelmed, so UN-focused that they simply, literally, cannot get it together to function at all!  This is what some of the experts working with the Attention Deficit Disorder population refer to as “pre-frontal cortex shutdown in response to stress.”

It’s what I call Boggle.

Although ADDers tend to experience it a lot more often, Boggle is not confined to the ADD population.

You are probably already familiar with Boggle.  I’ll bet you’ve been there: those times when you t-totally lose it!

Some of us scream and yell, some of us throw things, some stomp around slamming doors and cursing, some cry, some say terribly mean things even if we know at the time we will be mortified once we come back to ourselves, and some seem to be OK from the outside  — OK, that is, for a person who just landed on a brand new planet!

The focus of my book is to explain why it happens, and to teach you how to set it up so you never need to go there again.

The techniques I developed to work with the term I coined will work for anyone.  They work for me.  They work for my clients and students.  They will also work for you, ADD or not.

Don’t miss this series.

Until publication, I will edit foundational excerpts to get you started, right here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com.  Depending on the rules of the eventual publishing format, I may have to take them down, so get ’em while you can.

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Naming the Game


The Name of the Game Determines the Rules

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An article in the Intentionality Series

Line drawing of a woman advancing up a hill wearing a hard hat, mops & brooms over one shoulder, dustpan in hand, arm raise; over her head, in outlined letters, it says CHARGE!Trying to Get Things DONE

I tell my clients that part of the problem we have accomplishing specific tasks is a direct result of how we Name the Game.

HOW WE “NAME THE GAME” DETERMINES HOW WE PLAY

For example:

If the Name of the Game is clean-up-the-house, our mental To-Do list can include anything — from “defrost freezer” to “launder all slipcovers & bedding” to “remove, wash and wax ceiling fan blades.”

Lordy Mercy, as they say in the South, just shoot me now!

“Clean-up-the-house” is far too large a task to conceptualize without Boggle, making it all the more difficult for us to activate to take any steps at all.  So we usually don’t.

We agonize over our procrastination problem instead.

Since we have given our conscious mind little beyond a vague idea of what we mean by clean-up-the-house, our subconscious mind is clueless.  Round and round our brain it spins, seeking out all the bits and pieces filed under “cleaning,” “not clean” and “house.” Endlessly!

If we ARE somehow able to get ourselves going, broom, mop, and hardhat at the ready, most of us boggle somewhere early in the task, then wallow in the despair that comes from failing, yet again, to accomplish what we set out to do.

Then we agonize over our “follow-through” problem.

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