Time management tips for better Executive Functioning


EF Management Tips and Tricks – Part IV
Time Management Systems to Develop into Habits

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART FOUR: In support of The Executive Functioning Series

Quick Review:

In the introduction to this part of the article, I went over some of the concepts underlying the systems approach and why it works.

Basically, systems and habits help us conserve cognitive resources for when they are really needed. I added the caveat that nothing works for everyone any more than one size fits ALL very well.

For those of you who have the motivation and time to figure out how to make an “off the rack” outfit fit you perfectly, be sure to read for the sense of the underlying principles and tweak from there to fit your very own life.

If you can’t “sew” and are disinclined to take the time to learn (since most of us have trouble keeping up with what we are already trying to squeeze into our days), remember that I offer systems development coaching, and would love to turn my attention to your life.

I am going to warn everyone one last time that few of my clients ever really hear me the first dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these Basics float right past you too.

The sooner you make friends with the basic concepts – and put them into place – the sooner life gets a lot easier, more intentional, and a whole lot more fun.

FIVE Underlying System Basics

Found in Part-2
1.
Feed Your Head
2. Structure is your FRIEND
3. Nothing takes a minute

Found in Part-3
4. Write it down (any “it”)

In this section:
5. PAD your schedule
PAD-ing: Planning Aware of Details™

Don’t forget, as you read the final principle:

Each of you will, most likely, need to tweak to fit.  However, some version of all five underlying concepts need to be incorporated into your life (with systems and work-arounds in place and habitual) before challenges recede and strengths have more room to present themselves in your lives.

No pressure — let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker.

As long as you don’t actively resist you will be one step closer to getting a handle on that systematizing to follow-through thing.

So let’s get TO it!

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Executive Functioning Systems


EF Management Tips and Tricks – Part III
Time, Memory & Organization Systems
to Develop into Habits

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART THREE: In support of The Executive Functioning Series

The Quick Review:

In the introduction to this 4-part article, I went over some of the concepts underlying the systems approach and why it works.

Essentially, systems and habits help us conserve cognitive resources for when they are really needed.

I added the caveat that nothing works for everyone any more than ONE SIZE FITS ALL very well.  For those of you who have the motivation and time to figure out how to make an “off the rack” outfit fit you perfectly, be sure to skip past the literal interpretation to read for the sense of the underlying principles.

For the REST of you: if you can’t “sew” and are disinclined to take the time to learn (since most of us have trouble keeping up with what we are already trying to squeeze into our days), remember that I offer systems development coaching, and would love to put my shoulder to your wheel.

The quick warning:

I want to warn everyone yet again that few of my clients ever really hear me the first dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these Basics float past you a time or two as well.

The sooner you make friends with the concepts I’m sharing – and put them into place in a way that works for you – the sooner life gets easier, more intentional, and a lot more fun.

FIVE Underlying System Basics

Found in Part-2:
1.
Feed Your Head
2. Structure is your FRIEND
3. Nothing takes a minute

In this section:
4. Write it down (any “it”)

Concluding in Part-4 with:
5. PAD your schedule
PAD-ing: Planning Aware of Details™

Remember to remember as you read the principles to come:

MOST of you will probably need to tweak to fit as you incorporate the principles into your life (and/or take a second look at systems and work-arounds you already have in place that have now become habitual). If you really want to begin to experience the level of personal effectiveness you say you want, take a close and open-minded look at principles that have a 25-year track record of helping.

If you start to feel resistance,
let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker for a while.

As long as you don’t actively resist (as if YOU are the exception, fighting the ideas or ruminating over the thoughts that yet another person simply doesn’t get it), you will be one step closer to getting a handle on that systematizing to follow-through thing.

So let’s get right back to it!

 

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EF Management Tips and Tricks


5 Tips for better Executive Functioning
Part II – Systems to Develop into Habits

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART TWO: In support of The Executive Functioning Series

Quick Review:

In the introduction to this 4-part article, I went over some of the concepts underlying “the systems approach” and why it works.

I explained how systems and habits help us conserve cognitive resources for when they are really needed.

I went on to add that despite my dislike of articles and books that offer seemingly fix-it-ALL tips and tricks, I still share online tips myself from time to time — and that I was about to share five of them, despite the fact that  I strongly prefer sharing underlying principles, so that anyone reading might be able to figure out how to tweak to fit. 

  • I appended the caveat that nothing works for everyone any more than one size fits all very well, despite what the merchants would like you to believe.
  • I’m sharing the “tips” for those of you who have the motivation (and time to dedicate) to figure out how to make an “off the rack” outfit fit you perfectly.

Since most of us have trouble keeping up with what we are already trying to shoehorn into our days, if you can’t “sew” and are disinclined to take the time to learn, remember that I offer systems development coaching, and would love to put my shoulder to your wheel.

For the rest of you, I’m about to gift you some foundational principles I work on with my private clients, right along with whatever it is they came to “fix” – what I call my 5 System Basics.

I have to warn you again, however, that few of my clients have ever really embraced them the first couple dozen times I brought them up, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these Basics float right past you a few times too.

The sooner you make friends with the concepts I’m about to share – and put some systems into place around them – the sooner life gets easier, less frustrating, and a LOT more fun!

 

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5 Tips for better Executive Functioning – Part 1


EF Management Tips and Tricks
Systems vs. Solutions

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART ONE: In support of The Executive Functioning Series

Introduced in an older article, ADD/ADHD and TIME: will ANYthing work?, this is what I remind my students and private clients:

Even though they are not exactly the same thing, most people with Executive Functioning challenges have quite a bit in common with people who have been diagnosed with ADD.

In addition to short-term memory glitches, the things that seem to negatively impact effectiveness most often are problems with activation and follow through.

When I work backwards to figure out what’s going on, I almost always discover foundational problems with time management and/or troubles with transitions.

Both of these struggles are exacerbated when few of life’s details are systematized, which means that very little can be put on auto-pilot.  Every action requires a conscious decision – which not only requires a greater number of transitions (that eat up time), it burns up cognitive resources.

  • “Processing space” in the conscious portion of our brains is not unlimited, at least not in the bottomless well meaning of unlimited. Consciousness is a resource-intensive process – your brain REALLY doesn’t want to burn up those resources making the same decisions over and over again.
  • DECISIONS are prefrontal cortex intensive – using the conscious pathways in your reaction/response mechanism – whether you are making a major decision or one as seemingly inconsequential as to what kind of ice cream you want in your cone.
  • The greater number of day-to-day to-dos you can relegate to unconscious processing, the more cognitive bandwidth you make available for tasks that truly require you to think about them consciously.
  • That means “standardizing” the timing and the steps – developing systems – so that they become HABITS.

Caveat: there are no one-size solutions

Despite my dislike of articles and books that offer seemingly fix-it-ALL tips and tricks, from time to time I still share online tips myself. 

  • I usually add the qualification that nothing works for everyone any more than one size really fits all – at least not very well.
  • I prefer to share the underlying principles, so that readers might be able to figure out how to tweak to fit – kinda’ like some of those fashion sites that tell you how to use a sewing machine to take a nip here and a tuck there.

But many people can’t sew, not everyone wants to take the time to learn, and most of us have trouble keeping up with what we are already trying to squeeze into our days.

That’s why some people make a living doing alterations –
or, in my case, coaching change.

 

HOWEVER, for those of you who have the time and motivation, I’m about to share again what many of my private clients hire me to help them put into place (no matter what “problem” we are working on at the time) – what I call my 5 System Basics.

I have to warn you, however, that few of my clients have ever really heard me the first few dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these basics float right past you too.

Even when you’re desperate, change is flat-out HARD!

Try to remember as you read:

These aren’t merely a collection of five simple “suggestions.” If you have already noticed a few functioning struggles, try to hold them in your mind as practically absolutes – but lightly.

The five underlying concepts I’m about to share really do need to be accommodated in some fashion — with systems and work-arounds in place — before most of us are able to manage our energy toward follow through that doesn’t leave us endlessly chasing our own tails.

Lack of structure is really not the direction we want to travel if our goal is a life of ease and accomplishment.

Let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker.

As long as you don’t actively resist the ideas, (nit-picking the concepts or ruminating over the thoughts that yet another person simply doesn’t get it), you will be one step closer to having a handle on that follow-through thing, regardless of your current struggles with Executive Functioning.

Think of the underlying concepts, collectively, as a lever that will allow you to adjust your expectations appropriately, and to help you to figure out where you need to concentrate your time and effort ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible).

Trying to systematize a life without the basics
is like trying to start a car that’s out of gas.

  • Agonizing isn’t going to make a bit of difference.
  • Neither will “voting” – you may hate the idea, they may hate the idea. Sorry Charlie, it is simply what’s so
  • Hearing what a doofus you’ve been for not focusing on that little gas detail (especially hearing it internally) will shut you down and delay you further.
  • Go for the gas.

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS WARNING!

The upcoming five concepts that will begin to put some gas in your car are simply that: FUEL.

Until you make sure your “car” has fuel, you can’t do much about checking to see if the starter is going bad. You may also learn you need to adjust the steering mechanism. Oh yeah, and you certainly won’t get very far on lousy tires.

  • You don’t expect your car to magically transform with a little gas, do you?
  • How about a whole tank full of gas?
  • How about gas and four new tires?

Yeah, right!

Try to remember that the next time the self-flagellation begins, as well as when you feel defensive and become offensive.

You can’t eat an elephant in a day —
EVEN if you take one tiny bite at a time.

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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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Sleep Awareness and Health


The importance of  Sleep
to health, cognition and longevity

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Sleep & Sleep Disorders Series

Sleep and Sleep Disorders

A quick gander at June’s Awareness Calendar tells you that the  first week in June is Sleep Disorders Awareness Week.

I have already written a great deal about sleep and sleep disorders, but I couldn’t let the month pass without adding an Awareness post to that Series.

According NSART, the National Sleep Awareness Roundtable, promoting the awareness of the importance of sleep is an extremely worthwhile endeavor.

About SLEEP

NOT the passive state once believed, sleep is a highly active state essential for both physical health and BRAIN health.

Although we all do it, few of us know very much about it – and fewer still make sure we get enough of it to drive our brains and bodies effectively, limping along with chronic sleep debt.

Many of us would LOVE to get more sleep, but struggle falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping in sync with norms that allow us to coordinate with the timing demands of our chronically busy 21st Century lives.

NIH, the National Institutes of Health estimates that sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans alone, common in both men and women and people of all ethnic groups.

According to the authors of the website Talk About Sleep:

“At least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders each year, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems.

These disorders and the resulting sleep deprivation interfere with work, driving, and social activities.

They also account for an estimated $16 BILLION in medical costs each year, while the indirect costs due to lost productivity and other factors are probably much greater.”

They go on to say that “the most common sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy,” which is an indication of how LITTLE research has been done on the chronorhythm disorders – disorders of sleep timing.

But you don’t have to have a diagnostic sleep disorder of any kind to experience the negative effects of sleep debt. In fact, most of us in industrialized societies are chronically under-slept, which means that most of us have racked up sleep debt to a significant degree

Insufficient Sleep is a BIG Problem

The cumulative effects of sleep loss and sleep disorders represent a significantly under-recognized public health concern.

It is associated with a wide range of long-range health problems – all of which represent long-term targets of public health agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

  • hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure)
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • depression
  • heart attack
  • stroke, and
  • impulsive, at-risk behaviors

In 2008, an organization called Healthy People 2020 met to begin the process of determining 10-year national objectives for promoting health and preventing disease.

They ultimately targeted four main objectives:

  1. Increase the proportion of persons with symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea who seek medical evaluation (only ONE of two types of sleep apnea, btw)
  2. Reduce the rate of vehicular crashes per 100 million miles traveled that are due to drowsy driving
  3. Increase the proportion of students in grades 9 through 12 who get sufficient sleep
  4. Increase the proportion of adults who get sufficient sleep

And it all begins with awareness.

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Link between Gluten & ADD/ADHD?


Oh PLEASE, not again!
and from a source that I would think
would thoroughly research before reporting

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

Living Gluten-Free to rid yourself of ADD?

I use “ADD” vs. the DSM-5’s official name for the disorder – click HERE to find out why

The quick hit: Despite what you and I can find all over the internet in articles that have not done their research very completely, gluten does NOT cause ADD, so giving it up will NOT make it go away.

It could reduce the severity of a few symptoms, and there are a great many other health benefits you might experience, but if you want a quick fix for ADD (or a preventative), going gluten free is not your answer!

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

The Longer Answer

Regular readers are quite aware that I consider myself the ADD Poster Girl, struggling with practically every symptom in an ADD profile with the exception of reading focus and gross motor hyperactivity.

You also know that I have been studying and working with ADD/EFD (Executive Functioning Disorders) and comorbids for almost THIRTY years now.

So trust me when you read the rest of the article: I have thoroughly checked this out through scientific research that is current, reflecting the bulk of what we know for sure at this particular time, given the state of today’s technology.

If the science changes, you can trust me to tell you all that it turned out we were wrong, but it does not seem, from reading a great many studies, that it is likely that I am going to have to print a retraction any time soon.

Why Gluten – why NOW?

May is Celiac Awareness Month, as I reported in this month’s Mental Health Awareness Calendar, so I am just squeezing in under the deadline with a post about gluten.

There has been so much new information for me to digest, I’m sorry to report that more comprehensive articles informing you of gluten’s effects on the brain and body, Celiac Sprue and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity won’t make it under the wire.  Stay tuned for those in the future.

However, doing the research on gluten sensitivities for those more comprehensive articles, I tripped across more than a few posts that that stunned me – and not in a good way.

In my haste to counter the misinformation during the month where this post is most likely to be found, I decided to share with ADDandSoMuchMORE readers one of the comments I left on only one of those articles that seemed to be in the grip of confirmation bias.

Giving up Gluten

no-gluten-symbolSince listening to the expert scientists around the world at the world’s first Gluten Summit (many of whom have spent life-long careers researching gluten sensitivity and celiac disease), I became convinced that gluten is simply not good for human beings.

NEVER expecting to even consider giving it up when I began listening to the speakers, I began immediately to cut gluten out of my own diet before the Summit had concluded.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Get this straight:
I did NOT go gluten-free to “cure” my ADD,
because ADD is NOT caused by problems with diet.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For anyone who is still unclear,
let me say that in a slightly different manner:
based on a great deal of credible research to date,
neither ADD nor ADHD are caused by problems with diet.

The extent to which food sensitivities EXACERBATE an individual’s ADD symptoms may fool some people in to thinking otherwise, when symptoms become much less troublesome when one eliminates a troublesome food.

However (ONE more time), ADD is NOT caused by problems with diet in the same manner Celiac Sprue IS the result of the body’s autoimmune response to gluten, or gluten sensitivities are activated by gluten.

Don’t take my word for it

In a May 06, 2013 article entitled Celiac Disease and ADHD, Eileen Bailey, former ADD Guide for About.com, subsequently writing for HealthCentral, had the following to add to the conversation, supporting my assertion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Study Negating Association Between ADHD and Celiac Disease

Researchers completing a study at Inonu University in Turkey reported that there is not a link between ADHD and celiac disease.

This study was published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in Feb. 2013. The study looked at 362 children and adolescents with ADHD between the ages of 5 and 15.

Researchers found that the rates of celiac disease in those with ADHD were similar to rates of celiac disease in control groups (without ADHD.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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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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Change your Clothes, Change your Brain?


Fashionistas & their Opposites
A brain-based look

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

Fashionistas First

You’ve seen them on television, on the internet, in the tabloids, maybe even in your own neighborhood, right?

Whatever we think about how they put themselves together, we tend to notice that we see them in a different outfit every time we see them – even if we see them several times on the same day.

Many of us who like to think of ourselves as serious thinkers love to make fun of them.  We frequently believe they’re vapid, self-focused vanity plates wasting time and energy on items that don’t make one whit of difference.

And we’d be wrong.

They might not be changing the world, but they certainly are changing their clothes!  And that’s not such a bad thing, you’ll come to find out as you keep reading.

Frozen Fashionitas

Most of us have met at least one of these ladies.  A perfect example is the college beauty queen who hasn’t changed her style since her heyday, despite the fact that she is now middle aged or older.

Her hairstyle is practically the same, often chemically processed at considerable trouble or expense to remain exactly the same color.  Her wardrobe usually has a slightly “Delta Dawn” feel to it – frozen in time.

Youngsters sometimes point them out in a manner you wish they wouldn’t, and often at the top of their lungs, “Look Mom – that old lady looks just like Aunt Theresa!”

Another example is “Sensible Susie.”

She has decided what is appropriate and what is no longer suitable for any number of reasons: since she’s gained or lost weight, now that she’s older, the kids are in middle school, her husband got a promotion — whatever!

She may well be right, but the problem is that she turns what might have been a good idea into a rule book from which she never varies.

She may be easy to shop for, but nobody would ever accuse her of being “fashion forward,” and she’s often one of the first to point out the supposed flaws in the outfit of a contemporary.

Make way for “Matching Molly”

My own grandmother could have been the Matching Molly poster girl.  If an ensemble was purchased as an outfit, the various items might as well have been sewn together.

Suggesting to her that she could wear the jacket from Outfit A over a dress – or with the skirt from Outfit B – was practically enough to give her apoplexy.

She had a fit if I mixed and matched in my own wardrobe too, especially with items that she had given me as birthday or Christmas presents — there was no such thing as “separates” in my grandmother’s closet or her world view.

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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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How do brains get damaged? Is yours?


Even a “little” hit to the head can cause problems that can last for years
But that’s not the ONLY way your brain can be damaged

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the TBI/PTSD Brain-based Series

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

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month
Brain Awareness Week
– March 13-19, 2017

More Common that you realize

Brain Injury can happen to anyone in the blink of an eye, whether it happens as the result of stroke, car accident, playing football, taking a tumble off a bike, or sometimes even when you trip and fall walking down the sidewalk.

After-effects can persist for years in some cases — and you don’t actually have to hit your head to bruise your brain, by the way.

The only brains most of us have ever seen are models, or brains that have been solidified by chemicals, leading us to believe that they are solid structures that are fairly rugged — and that it might take a significant hit to damage a brain.

Nope! 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.

The severity of brain damage can vary with the type of brain injury.

  • A mild brain injury is temporary, sometimes barely seeming to cause much of a problem at all, and often limited to headaches, confusion, memory problems and nausea when it does.
  • In a moderate brain injury, symptoms often last longer, can be more pronounced and can result in other challenges and impairments.

In the majority of cases of mild to moderate brain damage your brain recovers completely, as long as you give it time to heal.

Don’t let that encourage you to take brain injury lightly

Your brain can be easily injured bumping up against that bony skull, even when no hit to the head was involved in the original accident — especially the PFC [prefrontal cortex], the executive functioning portion right behind your forehead.

In addition to brain injuries that involve even limited damage to the skull, 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.  What frequently follows can be much worse.

Subsequent swelling or bleeding is a big problem with shaken baby syndrome, for example. I also learned from the overnight death of the young brother of a colleague that all children injured in sledding accidents need to be taken to the doctor to be checked out immediately – before you put them to bed.

Closed head injuries frequently result in what is called diffuse brain damage — damage to several areas of the brain — that also can cause a variety of subsequent problems with cognition, speech and language, vision, or difficulties getting other parts of the body to respond.

Anyone who has a head or brain injury needs immediate medical attention. Depending on the extent and location of the damage, brain injury that seems mild can be as dangerous as more overtly serious injuries.

The extent of potential brain damage is determined by neurological examination, usually including X-rays or brain scans, and neuro-psychological assessments that check out reflexes and cognitive abilities. After checking for brain bleeds and swelling, the first goal is to stabilize the patient to make sure that blood pressure is controlled, and that blood carrying oxygen is flowing to the brain to prevent further injury.

With the correct diagnosis and treatment that contains the damage, even more serious brain injuries do not necessarily have to result in long-term disability or impairment, although approximately half of severe injuries require surgery to repair a ruptured blood vessel or to relieve pressure on the brain.

Every brain injury is different – and ALL need time to heal

Found on Pinterest

Regardless of cause, brain injuries can range from mild to severe, with a majority of cases you hear about being concussions.

It can sometimes take many years for brains to heal from certain kinds of damage, but it always takes longer than a day or two for your brain to recover completely from even minor damage – and longer still if you suffer another injury while it’s still healing.

Football players eager to get back on the field aren’t the only ones who fail to understand why and how long they have to take it easy to avoid long-term damage, even when they believe they are ready to hard-charge it again.

You really do have to take it easy afterwards, just as you would if you’d injured an arm or a leg, but even more important.

Brain damage disrupts the brain’s normal functioning, and can affect thinking, understanding, word-retrieval and language skills, and/or memory, sometimes for years afterwards and sometimes not evident until years later.

Other than those who play professional sports, males between 15 and 24 are most vulnerable because they are the population most frequently engaging in risky behaviors. Young children and the aging also have a higher risk, probably because they are most likely to have balance challenges that result in falls.

Symptoms of Brain Injury

There are many, but negative effects cluster in what can be thought of in terms of three functional systems:

(1) intellect, which is the information-handling aspect of behavior;
(2) emotionality, which concerns feelings and motivations;  and
(3) control, which has to do with how behavior is expressed.
Source: Neuropsychological Assessment, 3nd  Ed., 1995,  by Muriel D. Lezak

These commonly include trouble with some or all of the following: 

• attention and concentration 
• short-term memory   • organizing/prioritizing
• impulsiveness   • task switching,
  and occasionally
• poor social skills   and   • mood swings.

EXCELLENT Related Post:
Lost & Found: What Brain Injury Survivors Want You to Know

Causes of Brain Injuries

In this article we won’t be looking at brain damage in the womb as part of a genetic or congenital disorder (fetal alcohol syndrome, for example) or damage to the fetus due to maternal illness or accident.

I also won’t cover in this post what is often referred to as Acquired Brain Injury [ABI] — brain damage due to disease, stroke, medication, alcohol and drug use, or oxygen deprivation. ABIs affect the brain at a cellular level, most often associated with pressure on the brain, or as the result of a neurological illness.

I want to focus on the kind of brain damage most likely to affect most of you who read and follow ADDandSoMuchMore.com — and the most commonly reported source of brain damage is trauma.

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Naps help Memory


 Our Brains are not Designed
to Learn Non-Stop
Sleep is essential for memory & learning

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Sleep and Memory Series
All Rights Reserved

National Sleep Awareness Week PostMarch 2 – 9

Sleep is more important than you think

Some preschools are still considering the elimination of naptime to fit in more teaching.

According to new studies,
that is probably a lousy idea.

Researchers have already shown that, following a good night’s sleep, facts learned one day are retained better the next, in learners both young and old.

It is looking like midday naps, discovered to be essential for brain development in infants, perform the same memory-enhancing function for toddlers and young children as a good night’s sleep for teen and adult learners.

Naps appear to help memory and learning

A study published in PLOS ONE suggests that a little snooze in the middle of the day may help kids retain information they learned earlier the very same day.

[Laura Kurdziel et al., Sleep spindles in midday naps enhance learning in preschool children]

To repeat what I disclosed in an earlier article, Emotional Mastery to help us move forward:

Sleep has been proven to play a critical role in both physical and mental well being. Sleep deficiency is not only associated with physical disease, but also with a range of emotional disturbances from subtle to dramatic.

A great many important functions take place while our brains sleep — such as the healing and repair of the heart and blood vessels, as well as the brain’s housekeeping chores, when memories are consolidated and debris is swept away with the help of glial cells.

Other related neurodiversity posts:
You Don’t Want to Pay the Interest Charges on Sleep Debt
Sleeping with the Enemy: Mom’s N-24

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Can Eating Grapes Improve Your Memory?


Pilot study highlights role of grapes
in preventing Alzheimer’s disease
Implications for Memory & Attentional Struggles in Alphabet City

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Edited Reblog from the ClinicalNews blog
Ralph Turchiano on February 3, 2017

Brand New Study suggests Good News!

Grape-enriched diet prevents metabolic brain decline,
improves attention and memory
Public Release: 3-Feb-2017: California Table Grape Commission FRESNO, CA

Consuming grapes twice a day for six months protected against significant metabolic decline in Alzheimer-related areas of the brain in a study of people with early memory decline.

Low metabolic activity in these areas of the brain is a hallmark of early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Study results showed a grape-enriched diet protected against the decline of metabolic activity.

Alzheimer’s disease. as most people know, is a brain disease that results in a slow decline of memory and cognitive skills. Although it’s cause is not yet fully understood, it is believed result from a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

Currently 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease — and the numbers continue to grow.

Study implications for EFD

Scientists noted that the group that was given the grape-enriched diet also exhibited increased metabolism in other areas of the brain that correlated with individual improvements in attention and working memory performance, compared to those on the non-grape diet.

That’s encouraging news for those of us with Executive Functioning Disorders.

EFD, remember, is the term used to describe problems with cognitive abilities that most adults take for granted as products of intelligence, education and maturity — items like planning, problem solving, concentration, mental flexibility, and controlling short-term behavior to achieve long-term goals.

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The Brain Science Podcast turns TEN!


TEN years and still going strong

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the Brain Based Resources Series
with content reblogged from an article back in 2012

“On the Brain Science Podcast we explore how recent scientific discoveries are unraveling age-old mysteries, such as intelligence, emotions, personality, and memory.

We also look at why the brain is much more complex than any computer yet devised.” ~ Dr. Ginger Campbell

The Podcast for Everyone who has a Brain

I have been singing the praises of Dr. Ginger Campbell’s fascinating Brain Science Podcast for years now.

It is one of my very favorite ways of keeping step as science marches on.

Given that she is currently celebrating her Ten Year Anniversary, I decided it was time for me to introduce it anew.

I have many new readers since I wrote my first article urging everyone to check it out.

If you are not already listening, you are missing a fascinating brain-based resource that will make you feel like you have your own neuro-PhD after listening to a few episodes.

In the years since her podcast launched, Ginger has interviewed quite a few leading scientists and writers, many of whom have now become subscribers themselves.  I have described a mere FIVE of these below, hoping to whet your appetite for more.

Woven throughout her interviews are episodes with book summaries and topic-focused informational “lectures” in her own voice, and supporting all is a web-based discussion forum, a FaceBook Group, and her comprehensive website.  Her ShowNotes are top-notch too.

My much earlier unsolicited RAVE offers brief descriptions and links to particular interviews of individuals whose names long-time readers of ADDandSoMuchMORE.com will recognize from articles here.

I hope that you will jump over to skim that post as well – and jump from there to Ginger’s Brain Science Podcast website to give yourselves a real treat.

Click to read: Brain Science Podcast: REALLY Good Stuff!

For ANYONE who has a brain

There are now over 130 interview episodes available, the show has been ranked #1 on iTunes™, and BSP has enjoyed well over 2 million downloads.

  • It’s so popular because she manages somehow to appeal to long time “neuro-geeks” and newbie non-scientists alike.
  • She makes the content easily accessible, not only by adding her own comments to back-fill information that she understands but WE might not – but also by pointing to resources and other podcasts in the series to add additional depth to the conversation for those who want more.

The most recent episodes of the series can be streamed for free, and can also be downloaded to play on another device without charge. Although donations are appreciated, for those who can swing it, you can download several years worth of brain candy for absolutely nothing.

For those of you who prefer to read (or for those who want to do both), a transcript of each episode is available in pdf format for a measly dollar.  I happily pay $1.00 for my pdf downloads — they’re more than worth it!

You can EVEN listen on your smart phone. If you want to stream to your cell, there’s an ap available for an extremely reasonable charge.

Listen while you work, exercise, or relax

While there’s nothing quite like reading the book to add depth to your learning, one of the things I LOVE about this podcast is the intelligence of the interview.

Not only is Ginger a wonderful interviewer, she does her homework before she speaks with each guest. She asks just the right questions to make sure her listeners get the “meat” of the content – and she gives her guests PLENTY of time to develop a thought.

  • She also does everything she can to make sure that everyone in her target audience (“anyone with a brain”) gets full value out of each episode.
  • For interviews of concepts and ideas that might be more complex than new listeners could be expected to grasp on first listening, immediately following the interview itself she returns to summarize, and to cover anything that she feels needs a bit of extra explanation.

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Emotional Mastery to help us move forward


Upgrading how you feel
to help you change what you DO

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

UPDATE: This article was written to support the mood challenges of most readers here.  The blog of one reader reminded me to be SURE to say that some of you are dealing with issues that are more complex, and that other articles I’ve written might be more helpful to you.  Click to the PTSD/TBI LinkList for links to a selection of those.

Riding herd on runaway emotions

I recently found an emotional resiliency blog post by PsychCentral blogger Athena Staik, Ph.D. that fits right in with my focus on change-management in 2017.

She begins with four important points to keep in mind:

  1. Emotion mastery is a built-in capacity, often ignored yet always available.
  2. It is a learned ability to respond in a conscious manner that short-circuits our body’s survival-system to keep it from controlling us and our lives with ineffective automatic reactions and unconscious defensive strategies.
  3. It involves developing an awareness of and connection to our thoughts, emotions and body sensations — so that we are able to, step by step, cultivate a practice, or lifestyle habit of making conscious, informed decisions that will keep us on course toward achieving our goals
  4. In the process of cultivating emotion mastery, we will build the confidence and resilience we need to handle upcoming challenges more effectively.

Emotional Mastery

She continues by using the acronym M-A-S-T-E-R-Y to outline a system she recommends to help us tame our emotional reactivity.

The article seems to have been written from a neuro-typical point of view, so I don’t agree completely with every single thing she has to say about them.

I do agree with her on their importance, however – and I’m sharing in the hopes that her “MASTERY” mnemonic will help us all keep them in mind.

Mnemonic devices are techniques a person can use to help them improve their ability to remember something — a memory technique to help your brain better encode and recall important information.

You can jump over to Staik’s article to see what she has to offer in response to each letter.  My own thoughts will be found in the posts I’ve linked within or below each of her mnemonic assists.

 So lets take a look at them!

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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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Procrastination’s link to kludgy Executive Functioning


Getting a Round Tuit
CUTE — but not very helpful

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from posts in the Challenges Series

Oh those clever seminar leaders!

We all love the little gifties that are passed out at a great many seminars we have attended, seminars designed to help us fashion lives that are more productive and enlivening.

Most of us have a list of things we intend to do when “we get around to it” — but I can’t imagine how being gifted with a little round reminder that we need to STOP “procrastinating” and “just DO it” is going to make one whit of difference.

In most cases it’s shaming, actually, regardless of how positive the humorous intent – and shame rarely works well as a motivational technique.

Related Post: The Top Ten Reasons to Reframe Procrastination

We need to look clearly at what’s going on

Follow through to completion is a linear process modulated by the prefrontal cortex [PFC], the brain’s “conductor” that keeps us on track and in action, step after step.

Our vanilla-flavored friends rarely appreciate the fact that they have an unconscious advantage in the linear processing department – what is frequently referred to as “declarative memory.”  That makes certain kinds of information retrieval, organization and task completion, and – well, just about everything else – a heck of a lot easier for them.

With the ADD/EFD brain-style (and others with attentional spectrum dysregulations – all of us with Executive Functioning glitches), we seem to process sequential information in a fairly disjointed manner — the pieces somehow jumbled together — sometimes not recorded at all, even when we do our very best to keep our attention on matters at hand.

Too many guests at the EFD Table

Because the brain is soft and sloshes around in fluid inside a hard skull with bony protrusions – especially in the front area where the PFC is most vulnerable – any appreciable hit on the head is likely to result in a few problems with Executive Functioning.

Because the PFC is connected to almost every other part of the brain, it’s not much of a stretch to believe that strokes or medications that affect one one part of the brain are likely to have an effect on PFC connectivity as well.

Implication: any individual with a disorder, stroke or other brain damage affecting the prefrontal cortex is highly likely to experience brain-based executive functioning challenges of one sort or another.

In a nutshell, “Executive Function” is the mental ability to organize, prioritize, and accomplish tasks. It is figuring out what to do first, second, third, and so on, to see a task through to completion. Executive function involves things like being able to realistically determine, in advance, how long and how difficult a particular task will be to accomplish.
~ from a great 1st person article by PTSD advocate Linda Lee/LadyQuixote, Impaired Executive Function, My Invisible Disability

Connectivity challenges are experienced by individuals with mood disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, TBI/ABI, and more than a few neurological conditions such as sensory integration disorders, Parkinson’s, dyslexia — in fact, almost all of what I refer to as the alphabet disorders.

Due to the way the brain ages, even individuals who were born with the neurotypical brain style will begin to notice increasingly more Executive Functioning struggles as they get older.

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Living within the boundaries of TIME


Why TIME can be so hard to track
MOST of us battle it – but some of us lose more often

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

If you want to know the truth about TIME, ask a kid

Kids know that, even on December 24th, the time between now and Christmas morning is MUCH longer than the time between the now of the last day of summer vacation and the first day of school.

How long those “golden rule days” last is open to debate in kid-courts everywhere.

Kids who enjoy learning and have great teachers
are positive that the school-day is short,
as the kids who don’t will swear it is interminable.

On this they can agree

Most kids beg for “just one more minute” to watch TV or play computer games – as if a measly 60 seconds is going to give them what they really want: to continue doing something that engages their attention and avoid doing something they find difficult or don’t want to do.

Science tells us that the perception of time is a function of interest and effort.
I say: only partly.

  • NO extra time eases the transitions, for kids or adults – which is a huge part of the problem for anybody who isn’t strictly neurotypical and linear beyond belief.
  • And it takes a lot of work to learn to work with and around hyperfocus – that “trapped in the NOW” state that brains challenged with attentional struggles use to compensate for kludgy focus.

What’s a poor time traveler to do?

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Almost here: Group Coaching


A Process Designed to Support Clients
with all kinds of minds!

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

Does anything below sound like YOU?

  • Have you ever felt that you are essentially alone in your struggles with time and time-management, focus and follow-through as the result of PTSD, TBI/ABI, ADD/EFD — or brain-based struggles as the result of chemo-therapy or medication side-effects or chronic pain — or even something considered “normal,” such as age-related cognitive decline?
  • Do the people you love fail to really understand your challenges, so their suggestions & nudges don’t really help (and sometimes make things more difficult)?
  • Is there a pet project languishing on a back burner for FAR too long, but you can’t seem to “make” yourself get to it – or can’t find the time to do it amid the distractions of life’s many competing to-dos?
  • Have you accepted the dumb idea that your real problem is chronic procrastination because you have heard it so often it simply must be true – as you continue to struggle on in some attempt to just-DO-it?
  • Do you LIVE with someone who constantly lets you down, despite their assertions that they never intend to do so? Would you LOVE to understand how to “motivate” them and keep them on task to completion – BEFORE you give in to your impulse to strangle them?
  • Is your home or office so cluttered you rarely have the motivation to clean and organize, as day slips into clutter-mounting day?

Do you need help
you don’t think you can afford?

Would you love to hire a Sherpa: a highly-experienced, systems-development professional at the TOP of the field, but can’t fit the fees for one-on-one private coaching into your budget?

IN OTHER WORDS:

Do you need a little brain-based coaching to get to the point where you can afford brain-based coaching?

Have I got a Group for YOU!

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Beyond the Limitations of a Post-It Note™ Brain


 

TIME Perception is a factor of Awareness

The more conscious the process,
the longer it seems to take

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post from the Time & Task Management Series
Part THREE (Part I HEREPart II HERE)

According to Dr. David Eagleman, we humans are more than passive observers where time is concerned. And he should know. The author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, has studied Time perception for well over a decade.

According to his research, we are not merely watching the river of time flow by as if time happened TO us, or we happened IN time. Science is learning that our brains are actively constructing time.

Re-engineering Brain Resources

In Eagleman’s words, It turns out that it has everything to do with novelty, and with how much energy your brain has to expend.

So, when you can predict something, not only does your consciousness not come online, but [the event] feels like it goes by very fast.

In other words, driving to work may seem relatively fast eventually. The first time you had to do it, however, it seemed to take longer because of the novelty, as well as the amount of brain-power you had to burn the first time you did it — before your brain was able to predict much of anything about the trip.

Essentially prediction means that if it’s something you’re doing repeatedly, you’re actually “rewiring” — reconfiguring the circuitry of the brain.

You’re actually moving things into your sub-conscious circuitry, which gives you speed and efficiency, albeit at the cost of conscious access.

So you have to pay a lot of conscious attention if you’re learning to do something new, like playing golf or driving a car.

After a while it’s not necessary, because you’ve changed the circuitry of your brain — no longer at the effect of the conscious awareness of what you’re doing.

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The Wisdom of Compensating for Deficits


Brain-Change vs. Compensation
TIME is of the Essence

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Self-Help Series – Part I

Arguing with YouTube

I have been watching a lot of brain-based TED Talks of late – talks from notables like the following:

I added links to those videos above so you can click to watch them too.

Their Advice for Us

Each of them hopes to direct the focus of the world to healing the problem rather than working at the level of symptoms.

That makes A LOT of sense, right?
I LIKE these experts, and applaud their efforts.
I have known about the things they espouse for many years now,
and I think each is a great idea.

HOWEVER, something about each of their talks left me with a sense that something was off, or missing — or that, in the way they came up with their advised solutions, they devalued or overlooked a point of view that was important.

It took me a bit of noodling, but I finally figured out what was bugging me.

Three things:

  1. The advice was presented in an either/or, better/worse, black and white fashion that, in some subtle manner, left me with an uneasy feeling. I was left with an impression that they each believed that their way of working was the best way for ALL individuals to proceed — and that we would be somehow foolish to approach finding a solution to compensate for our challenges instead of “fixing” the root cause.
  2. They seemed oblivious to the reality that, for a great many of us, some of their solutions are absolutely out of reach financially (Do you have any idea how much it costs to get a brain scan for diagnostic purposes, for example?)
  3. They left out the TIME factor altogether – and didn’t quite explain who was going to support us while we set about changing our brains by getting more sleep, changing our diets for optimal brain health and healing, or working through exercises that will improve short term memory (for example).

Few of us can afford to take a year or more OFF while we take advantage of the miracle of neuroplasticity to give our brains a fighting chance at “normalizing.”

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Nick: A Personal Triumph over Brain Damage


He’s come back from so much
– proof that nothing is impossible with hard work
and a dream

a hand-crafted reblog adding to the What Kind of World Series
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Autonomy implies Independent motion

In 2009, the 25 year old son of one of the most positive lights in the blogging community, Sue Vincent, had his youthful potential cut short. He was stabbed through the brain in an unprovoked attack and left for dead in an alley.  The prognosis was grim.

He was not expected to survive at all – and not expected to have much of a life worth living if he did.  They were told that if he woke, it would probably be to a vegetative state. At best, he might have the mind and abilities of a two-year-old. The damage was extensive and irreversible. He would need constant care for the rest of his life.

The triumph of will

Over the past couple of years, many in the blogging community already know he did survive, defying all the odds, fighting his way back to achieve wonderful things in spite of the physical challenges with which he lives still, wheelchair bound.

Sue’s article describes even more about his inspiring story, and links to posts about his courage in the face of subsequent challenges, as well as his incredible adventures since that day.

She blogs of the magic of May Day, his skydive… the London to Brighton cycle ride (raising funds for Headway, a charity supporting brain injury victims and their families) … and the Triathlon — all of which raised thousands of pounds for charity.

More than I would attempt, for SURE!

The London to Brighton cycle challenge was a ride of some 54 miles (87km).

It included the ascent of Ditchling Beacon, which climbs nearly 500 feet in less than a mile… all, according to Sue, carrying a bag that weighs as much as a small county on the back as well.

It was made possible with help — others who donated time and the strength of their own bodies to make sure the equipment that supported Nick’s goal was packed and transported so that Nick was able to start and complete the ride.

But Nick dreams of still MORE.

Autonomy enough to travel

Sue explains in her article that Nick’s dream of autonomy with travel is currently hampered by a plethora of problems accepted as “normal” with his current “trike” – in a manner that some angel on earth has found a way to overcome with the Mountain Trike, a cross between a mountain bike and a wheelchair.

More than the smooth terrain necessary for most wheelchairs, this trike can go off-road and up mountains. It can handle sandy beaches, ford streams and cope with muddy tracks and cobbles. It even has a luggage rack.

More important, it is a manual wheelchair with an innovative propulsion system that Nick can use, even with reduced mobility and struggles with coordinating both sides of his body.

It doesn’t need batteries, can be fixed by most bike shops in an emergency and, crucially, doesn’t need anyone to push it. He can go out into the wild places alone for the very first time in seven and a half years.

Source: Independent motion – can you help?

Meet Nick

A few of you may follow Nick’s blog and may already have read about his recent preparations for his biggest adventure yet — looking forward to accomplishing the impossible once again, proving that ‘impossible’ really isn’t, if you set your mind and heart to something.

If you are new to Nick’s story, I hope you will give yourself the gift of reading about it – and that you will take the time to watch the video he has included on THIS post – especially those of you who are close to giving in and giving up.
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Is struggling with weight a “Second Brain” problem?


The Hunger Games of The Second Brain
– from Knowing Neurons

a hand-crafted reblog adding to the Brain-Based Series
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Gut Feelings

Most of us know what it means to have “a gut feeling” – whether it feels intuitive in nature, or a queasy feeling in reaction to something negative or disgusting.  We tend to feel it in the solar plexis or below.

Many of us consider this “gut feeling” idea a metaphor – or believe that the brain in our head sends signals to the gut that produce these feelings.

Not exactly.  Your gut actually has a brain of its own (of sorts).

The nervous system that lines your gut, the enteric nervous system (ENS), is popularly called the “second brain.” This complex network of over 100 million neurons along the gastrointestinal tract works independently of any commands from the brain!

How it Works

The ENS manages the body’s digestive system using the same functional machinery as the brain – a network of neurons, neurotransmitters and proteins. The ENS plays an important role in governing food habits via bidirectional communication with the central nervous system (CNS).

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Brains Need SYSTEMS to Develop


Learning CHANGES the Structure of the Brain:

Impossible in the face of chaos

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC

“You don’t cure a different organization of the brain;
you find ways and strategies of helping that brain learn [. . .] in a different way.
It’s not about cure, it’s about teaching different ways.

~ Maryanne Wolf
reading expert & author of Proust and the Squid

Building a Brain

While it is true that no two brains develop in a manner that is exactly the same, babies come into this world with a brain specialized for learning – a pattern-recognition device designed to bootstrap learning into a structure of additional patterns.

The brain develops in a manner not dissimilar to the way in which a computer uses certain hardwired sub-routines to locate and activate still more code that allows for the loading and interpretation of additional programs — which facilitates their use for creating new ideas.

The human brain builds the new structures and networks it needs to allow it to continue to learn.  The process by which it does that work is known as neuroplasticity.

Not all that long ago, most of the science-crowd mistakenly believed that there was a relatively early window in which neuroplasticity operated. It was once thought that all of the neurons our brains were ever going to have developed within that window, and the systems the brain used to learn were set after a particular point in childhood.

Baby brains develop amazingly quickly

If you’ve ever spent any time at all around an infant, you might recall their unfocused stare and their unselfconscious movements and facial expressions.

It may not be immediately apparent to parents who spend day to day time with the baby, but adults who visit only occasionally are usually amazed at how much more that child is able to interact with the world each time.

Suddenly, it seems, that tiny child is able to focus on an object of fascination.  S/he responds to the direction of a particular sound and reaches for things. The baby exhibits what adults recognize as curiosity about the world around them and develops preferences.

Order out of Chaos

Babies come into a world of seeming chaos: sights, sounds, temperature, texture and more, with little in place to help them make sense of it all. They have to build the brain that will help them learn for the rest of their lives.

The task of their amazingly neuroplastic infant brains is to learn to recognize the constants that help them to derive meaning from a cacophony of stimulation that the majority of us learn to filter out – eventually.

And it is the task of the adults around them
to provide those constants.

As infants learn to recognize the simplest thing, as far as adult sensibilities are concerned, their brains grow and change their structures. As the baby’s brain learns that certain types of vibrations need to be visually interpreted, others audially, and so forth, it reorganizes its pathways for the most efficient recognition and interpretation of incoming data. It condenses the complexities of sensory awareness to comprehend “meaning.”

Assimilation of the basic concept of Mom, for example, requires a complex network of connections that, very quickly, allows the baby to understand that the source of his or her food is mother, and that she is one single element:

  • those hands are part of my mother,
  • those arms are part of my mother
  • that face is my mother smiling
  • that other face is still my mother, frowning
  • those sounds make up my mother’s voice
  • and I have a voice too

A lot of brain-based learning must take place before the baby assigns emotional or intellectual meaning to what s/he observes, eventually able to extrapolate expectations of sensory awareness to form new ideas about his or her world like, “I have a voice too.”

A LOT for our brains to learn

It makes sense that it might have seemed that brain-development is essentially a childhood task. Because young children have so much to learn so quickly, brain growth and change seems, by comparison, to stop in adulthood.

It has been postulated that, because of the size limitations of the birth canal in an upright-walking human being, our babies are born essentially nine months premature.  The increase in size of the infant’s brain after birth is phenomenal, compared to the growth in an adult brain. A baby’s brain doubles in size in their first year alone. By age three it has reached 80 percent of its adult volume.

Highways and Byways

It is a logical extrapolation that after a certain point, the brain would use what it has built in a manner similar to the way in which a city uses it’s roads to connect grocery store to neighborhood to a particular location in the center of town. There may be a hundred ways to drive from place to place, but nobody sober cuts through yards to form new roads that were never there before.

Except, with the brain, that hasn’t turned out to be exactly true.
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Good news on brain-aging from The Nun Study


Healthy Brains for a Lifetime

We really DON’T have to lose it as we age

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
Reflections on Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Protection

Cognitive decline is NOT inevitable

A quick review before some data that will bring smiles to a lot of worried faces (especially for writers!):

There is still a lot to learn from School Sisters of Notre Dame “Nun” Study — the longitudinal scientific exploration of aging and Alzheimer’s disease originally funded by the National Institute on Aging.  Data, tissue, and genetic material collected in this landmark study will, no doubt, prove invaluable to a great many meta-studies long into the future.

Thanks to the Sisters’ unprecedented generosity of spirit, however, we now know a lot more about how the brain ages than we did, even a few years ago.  We also know more about dementia and what factors seem to be neuro-protective.

The oft-cited study centers on a group of a relatively homogeneous order of 678 Roman Catholic sisters (American, no drug use, little or no alcohol or tobacco, similar housing and reproductive histories, etc.) — which minimizes extraneous variables that may confound other similar research.

Along with, ultimately, hundreds of others in their order, a few brave nuns agreed to volunteer for a long-term study of aging and Alzheimer’s disease, hoping to provide evidence that might be used to teach the rest of us how to escape the worst ravages of this heartbreaking illness.

To repeat a comment from my last article [You don’t HAVE to lose it as you age: Moving Past Mind-Blips and “Senior Moments”]:

Upon autopsy, even some of the individuals discovered to have what used to be accepted as “positive Alzheimer’s identifiers” (senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles), managed to escape the behavioral devastation of the disease.

Others had only recently begun to exhibit signs of mental decline in the year or two before their deaths (at 80 and beyond), despite brains that would have predicted a significantly earlier onset of dementia.

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You don’t HAVE to lose it as you age


Moving Past Mind-Blips and “Senior Moments”

Maintaining & improving your brain’s vitality as you age

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
Reflections on Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Protection

“A mind equipped with a wide range of
previously formed
pattern recognition devices
can withstand the effects of neuroerosion
for a long time.”

~ Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, PhD, from
The Wisdom Paradox 


Along with suggestions designed to help, this article begins to debunk the myth of “to be expected” age-related cognitive decline — as it explains the mechanics of memory and outlines the functional trajectory of the healthy brain as time marches on.

In the Memory Issues Series, anyone currently struggling to fit into a neurotypical mold, even if you are GenX or younger, will find a lot of information that will help you develop effective you-specific strategies to work around some of the things that give you fits and shut you down.


Our Worst Nightmare

Staying in SHAPE as we age (Source HERE)

Most people who have lived with cognitive decline in an up close and personal fashion (in particular, the ravages of any of the dementias in a loved one), frequently report a back-of-the-mind concern that they are looking into a mirror of their future selves.

Time marches on, and we’re all getting older. The first wave of Baby Boomers – that spike in the population statistics once Johnny came marching home from World War II – turned 65 in 2012.

With the third-act aging of more and more of the Boomers, this conversation will become increasingly frequent, as those back-of-the-mind concerns rise to conscious awareness and become the worries of a greater portion of our population.

Take a D-E-E-P breath — you don’t HAVE to lose it as you age!!

Prevention is the better part of valor

You wouldn’t wait until the day before the marathon to train for it, would you? Same thing with healthy brain aging! Don’t wait until decline begins to start doing something about it — if you want to experience the rosy finish you can expect if you begin to employ neuro-protective techniques NOW

Good news for most Boomers –
it’s not too late to start turning things around!

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Attentional struggles? Not ME!


WANNA BET?
Check out a few of the Symptoms of Attentional Struggles

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from an article published June, 2011

NOT just for ADD

MANY people – not just those diagnosed with ADD/EFD (or anything else) – report challenges with procrastination, follow-through, time and transition management, recalling directions, names or what they said they would do, keeping the bills paid on time, beating back the clutter, keeping on top of the laundry or the filing or the mail — or effectively handling any number of pile-ups of house, garage and lawn chores.

More than a few struggle to have much of a life beyond the all-too-familiar “mess it up, clean it up” cycle — in any one of a host of arenas.

DID YOU KNOW that fluctuations in your ability to manage the Attending system are at the root of every single one of them?

Not necessarily diagnostic

If YOU have even more than a few of the characteristics listed in this article, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have diagnostic ADD – or any of the bona-fide Executive Functioning disorders.

It DOES indicate that you’re juggling more balls than you can manage at one time, and one or more of the The Dynamics of Attending is suffering for it.

Room at my Table

I’d like to invite the rest of you to allow yourselves to benefit from the coping techniques I developed for the ADD community over the past 25+ years.

Whichever camp you belong to, ADD/EFD, “Senior Moment” tripsters, or CrazyBusy, I’m fairly certain you will find that employing a few ADD Coaching techniques will help you become more intentional with your attending, life will become a whole lot easier to manage, and your friends and loved ones will be much happier with the way you relate to THEM.

Looking through The ADD Lens™

I have found the idea of looking at things through The ADD Lens™ extremely helpful. In other words, looking at your functioning challenges as if they were a result of Attention Deficit Disorder.

If Challenges like any of those below (or their kissing cousins) keep you from getting things done, pretend you do have ADD/EFD and start to utilize a few of the techniques that have been found to work with people who have been diagnosed with ADD:

See if looking at yourself through The ADD Lens™as if you had full-blown, diagnostic ADD/EFD – gives you a way to approach areas of prior difficulty in a way that you can handle them successfully.

In The Journey toward Optimal Functioning™, we must give ourselves permission to utilize any trick, tool or technique that will help us to achieve it.
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Accountability & Systems on Auto-Pilot


Systems Development is Part ONE
It’s that consistent follow-through part that’s the killer!

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

Treadmill Deja Vu

As I explained in Keeping Up with the Treadmill Tasks, published over 2-1/2 years ago, Treadmill Tasks are those things that are never really done. No sooner do we put a task behind us than its evil twin materializes in front.

If we expect to eat every day, somebody has to fix the food. Then somebody has to deal with the dishes at least once a day or so, and wipe spills off the counters and the floor (at least well enough to keep the Board of Health away from our door).

Oops, let’s not forget to take out the garbage – and how about that grocery shopping?

Then there’s the general digging out: policing the living rooms and the bedrooms, the kitchens and the bathrooms . . . not to mention those home office to-dos, even for those of us who work for wages somewhere else.

SOME-body has to attend to all of those items or everybody must live with the consequences of mounting disorder and disarray that eventually makes life practically unlivable.

When YOU are that somebody – especially if you are one of the citizens of Alphabet City – I’ll bet you frequently feel like your life is little more than one rapidly revolving to-do list, and that you will never be able to cross off anything anywhere near the bottom.

Hang on – help’s coming!

But wait – there’s MORE!

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Tinkerbell Comments – scorn and disbelief


I don’t clap, so you’re not real
The failure of many to understand or believe

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
in the Monday Grumpy Monday Series

Preaching to the Choir

I spend a great deal of [non-billable] time in an attempt to remain current and relevant in my field.  As part of that endeavor, I troll the internet, reading and engaging with a great many posts by fellow bloggers of a great many related-though-different areas of focus – ADD/EFD comorbidities like TBI/ABI, Sleep Disorders, Bi-Polar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Chronic Illnesses of various sorts, and more.

Again and again I come across attempts to “explain what it’s like” – especially to others who don’t struggle similarly, most likely read primarily by those who do.

Related posts:
Mental Health: What we’re dealing with
Update: Imploding
Do you ever feel like giving up?
It’s Not Me, It’s You!
Things I wish someone told me after my TBI

Click around on almost any support and advocacy site you visit and you will almost always find a comment or several discussing one of the most difficult situations common to practically every individual with functional challenges.

There seems always to be a need to overcome the comments of seemingly empathy-deficient, unthinking, tough-love advocates who doubt the veracity of what they are seeing and hearing.

There is too much pain in too many comments disclosing that too many others seem to imply (or actually state with suspicion or supposed certainty) that we are somehow and for some bizarre reason, exaggerating, making up excuses, diagnosis shopping or outright  “faking it.”

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The Brain: Why much of what you think you know is WRONG


Science Marches On
and older information becomes obsolete

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

The Importance of Life-Long Learning

It’s an essential endeavor for everyone with a brain to continue to seek out and pay attention to credible information that will help us delay – or avoid – the onset of dementia, preserving cognitive functionality as we age.

However, it is especially important for scientists, treatment and helping professionals to keep up with new information and incorporate it into their theories, tests and treatment protocols.

And yet . . .

I have been beating this drum – while seeking new, scientifically valid information for over 30 years now – in my futile attempt [so far] to get some traction toward effective care for those of us with Executive Functioning disorders.

A concept known as Confirmation Bias explains part of the reason that my efforts [and those of others] have, for the most part, failed – but timing is everything.

Related Post: Why we HATE to Change our Minds

Getting updated, substantially more accurate information to “the professional down the street” simply takes far too long, as the continual explosion of partially-informed new coaches, bloggers and pinners confuse and confound the issue further.

They all seem to be well-intended, albeit at least partially misguided, spreading obsolete information all over the internet at an unprecedented rate.  For those who make an effort to continue to learn, it seems that the more that new information might persuade them to update their theories and methodologies along with their information base, the more tightly they hold to cherished beliefs – the very essence of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory makes predictions that are counter-intuitive — predictions that have been confirmed in numerous scientific experiments.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept or the term, you will probably be surprised to see how widely it applies. Once you learn to pay attention to it, you will also be surprised at how it changes your behavior as well as your perception of your world.

Embracing its reality might also encourage you to investigate brain-based information further, allowing your mind to incorporate the latest in scientific findings, rather than repeating information that is, sometimes, decades old.

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