Why we hate to change our minds


The Greater our Investment
The greater the likelihood
we will hold on to ideas that don’t serve us

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concept of the Intentionality Series
Opinions vs. Facts

Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong.  Presented with conflicting information, accepting the new evidence would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable (called cognitive dissonance)

And because it is so important to protect that core belief, they will rationalize, ignore, and even deny anything that doesn’t fit with the core belief.~ Franz Fanon, Free Your Mind and Think

Confirmation Bias

There has been a great deal of research and writing on the implications of the concept of confirmation bias. I have often referred to the concept here on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com, so many of my regular readers are already familiar with the expression.

Given today’s political climate, I believe it is time to review a few ideas
as we all attempt to make sense of what’s going on.

Some of you will recall seeing the information in the box below – but I believe it will be useful to take a moment to reread it as an introduction to this particular article.

NOnoYESConfirmation bias is a term describing the unconscious tendency of people to favor information that confirms their hypotheses or closely held belief systems.

Individuals display confirmation bias when they selectively gather, note or remember information, or when they interpret it in a way that fits what they already believe.

The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues, for deeply entrenched beliefs, when we are desperate for answers, and when there is more attachment to being right than being effective.

How it tends to work

Human beings will interpret the same information in radically different ways to support their own views of the themselves. We hate to believe that we might have been wrong — especially when we have invested time and energy coming to a decision.

Studies on fraternity hazing have shown repeatedly that, when attempting to join a group, the more difficult the barriers to group acceptance, the more people will value their membership.

To resolve the discrepancy between the hoops they were forced to jump through and the reality of whatever their experience turns out to be, they are likely to convince themselves that their decision was, in fact, the best possible choice they could have made.

Similar logic helps to explain the “Stockholm Syndrome,” the actions of those who seem to remain loyal to their captors following their release.

©Dogbert/Dilbert by Scott Adams — Found HERE

Adjusting Beliefs

People quickly adjust their opinions to fit their behavior — sometimes even when it goes against their moral beliefs overall. We ALL do it at times, even those of us who are aware of the dynamic and consciously fight against it.

It’s an unconscious adaptation that is a result of the brain’s desire for self-consistency. For example:

  • Those who take home pens or paper from their workplace might tell themselves that “Everybody does it” — and that they would be losing out if they didn’t do it too.
  • Or they will tell themselves, perhaps, “I’m so underpaid I deserve a little extra under the table – they expect us to do it.”

And nowhere is it easier to see than in political disagreements!

When validating our view on a contentious point, we conveniently overlook or “over-ride” information that is at odds with our current or former opinions, while recalling everything that fits with what is more psychologically comfortable to believe – whether we are aware of it consciously or not.

We don’t have to look further than the aftermath of the most recent election here in America for many excellent examples of how difficult it is for human beings to believe that maybe they might have been wrong.

BUT WHY?

To understand why, we need to look briefly at another concept that science has many studies to support: cognitive dissonance.

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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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Mental Health Awareness for February 2017


Special days & weeks in February

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for mental health related issues
(and a calendar for the month!)

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the ADD/ADHD Cormidities series

It takes one person to make a difference —
just think of what thousands can do.

~ Psychology Today 2016 Awareness Calendar

Online Marketing Gurus extol the effectiveness of piggy-backing posts,
onto particular events – how about one or several of the ones below?

Mark your blogging calendars!

Many days of the year have been set aside every month to promote awareness or advocacy of an issue, illness, disability, or special-needs related cause.

Included on every Awareness Month list at ADDandSoMuchMORE.com are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create problems with cognition, mood, memory, follow-through and attention management.

In addition to a calendar for the current month, each Awareness post attempts to offer a list highlighting important days and weeks that impact and intersect with mental health issues.

If I’ve missed anything, please let me know in a comment so that I can add it to the list below.

May 2017 be the year
when EVERYONE becomes aware of
the crying need for upgraded mental health Awareness.

Google Find – suspicious link to source not included here

Stay tuned for more articles about Executive Functioning struggles and management throughout the year (and check out the Related Posts for a great many already published).

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Friday Fun: Memory


I know we’ve met many times,
but what was your name again?
Let’s laugh the whole thing off

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

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

What we can and cannot recall at any particular time depends on a lot of factors . . .

our generation … our cultural imperatives … what sticks out among the familiar … the time of day and how much sleep we’ve had lately … whether we are well-hydrated — even what we ate for breakfast.

Unfortunately, the mechanics of human memory still remain a mystery to the science crowd.

They now know a great many more things, however, for example:

* THAT memories are not stored in one part of the brain alone – nouns, names & faces are stored in different areas (and some brains have trouble with ALL of them)

* THAT bits of memories are distributed — each time they are recalled they are reconsolidated anew

* THAT how we feel and think when we recall them changes memory’s bits and bytes — which is why eye-witness testimony is not reliable

* THAT more recent memories become tougher to recall as we age, even when we can vividly remember what happened much earlier in great detail, and

* THAT attention and focus (and sleep) are essential for effective long-term storage. If we are paying attention elsewhere, storage for recall is iffy (and when we don’t sleep, brain filing is a crapshoot) — even our own promises to our significant others

But that is ALL little consolation when they can’t help us with CRS:
that disabling “disorder” when we
Can’t Remember Stuff.

Related ComicWinter Food Storage

All is not lost

Source: Wrong Hands

Fortunately, there are quite a few brain-based explanations and work-arounds for memory’s glitches.

I continue to share a great many coaching tips and tricks to help with more reliable storage and recall (and I’ve included links in this post to some of my longer, more serious articles on memory).

Today, however, we’re going to temper our frustrations with a quick bit of humor.
How many of the situations below have you experienced in YOUR life?

Oh, and after today, Funnies post only occasionally

Reminding you of what I disclosed in last Friday’s introduction to this series, Funnies about Perspective: unlike the ongoing Sunday Smiles and Monday Funnies you’ll find on Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog, my Friday Funnies will show up only occasionally, usually clustered around a theme.

If I get the feeling that things have gotten a tad serious here in the world – or on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com – get ready for another hit of humor, most likely another Friday Funny.

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.

AND NOW for some more humor . . .

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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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TIME to think about Group Coaching


Time Troubles and Coaching
For people who are “ALWAYS” running late and rushing around
— and the people who love them —
(who would like to understand how to change that sad fact)

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

BEFORE  I tell you about the upcoming start of an affordable new Coaching opportunity designed to help you with A-WHOLE-LOT-MORE than time-management, let’s take a moment to chat about time itself.

Time can be MANAGED?

For over a quarter of a century now, I have been fascinated with anything related to the topic of the awareness of the passage of time. It has always been a mystery to me – and I now know that I’m not the only one with that peculiar problem.

Personally, I can’t recall a time when time made sense, except in the context of NOW and not-now.

Even when I explain it to someone who thinks they understand, it seems that nobody gets the implications. I am frustrated beyond belief when they continue to ask me time-based questions.

My secret fascination with the mechanics of time’s awareness began long before I first learned that I seem to be one who was born without that internal tic-tic-tock with which most people DO seem to have been equipped, part of the standard package.

I’ve been told I can’t get one now, even as an after-market upgrade.

Oddly, I have a great sense of rhythm – which is time-based – so I can change time-ING, but predicting how long something will take or how long ago a life landmark occurred is always beyond me.

Back in my acting days, when I had to do a 30-second spot and I was over or under by a few seconds, I understood how to tweak the cadence to end “on time.” But I never could stay tracked attempting to “time” much of anything for much longer than a minute (or “time” a dance number — I simply stayed in step with the music until it stopped).

Are YOU one of the time challenged?

None of us know what we don’t know . . . so how can we frame a question another will understand? It seems like magic when others are able to manage something in arenas where we are totally at sea.

The best analogy I’ve been able to come up with for a lack of time-sense is that it’s like trying to teach the tone-deaf to sing.

Friends who aren’t able to sing on pitch can’t tell when they wander away from the tune, and I have never been able to help them learn to do so.  They simply can’t hear it.

Unlike those who can’t match a pitch, however, I always knew there was some “secret” that others knew and I didn’t (and therapists have had a field day with this, by the way – “Madelyn, I don’t have answers for you!”)

I simply couldn’t imagine how to frame a question beyond, “How do you DO that?” or “What am I missing?” – which, I suppose, seemed more like feigned ignorance or an unwillingness to take personal responsibility to others. So I stopped asking. I hated the look on their faces, even when their responses weren’t cruel, and even though I understood they didn’t MEAN to be cruel.

Making sense of a lack of sense

I found out that there was such a thing as “a sense of time” in the same article I found out about adult ADD, published years ago in the New York Times magazine section – Frank Wolkenberg’s now landmark, “Out of a Darkness.”  I was 38.

My reaction to that particular aha! was, “Well, NO WONDER every one else can get places on time — they’re cheating!” (as if “a sense of time” was like having an exam crib sheet stuffed up their sleeves.)

Once I understood that some inner chronometer allowed others to somehow feel that time was passing (and how much time was passing, for most of them), I understood immediately that I had to stop attempting to “figure it out” and focus on easy-to-set alarms (one to STOP, to get ready for the next thing, another to begin walking out the door — etc.) That’s how I did it — and how I have to do it still.

I found it fascinating to hear that some people LOST their sense of time following a head injury. I know it must be frustrating for them, but at least they know how to explain what’s missing — not that it helps others to understand what they’re talking about or the extent of the resulting struggle one whit better.

Related Post: Lessons from the TBI Community

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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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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.

Remember that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

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Productivity, Focus & Follow-through


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

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

The Motivation/Activation/Focus Continuum

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

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

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

Different causes mandate different approaches and ideas.

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

Body Double Confusion

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

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

Some repeat information from the earlier article:

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

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

THAT’s where the confusion begins

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

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

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

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

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

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Getting up and Getting Going


More on ACTIVATION
(versus Motivation)

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concepts of the Intentionality Series

ACTIVATION can be a BEAR!

From my favorite illustrator, Phillip Martin

As I illuminated in three earlier posts of this Series of articles – ABOUT ActivationIs Activation “Seeking System” Dependent? and Procrastination: Activation vs. Motivation – struggles with activation are a common occurrence in the AD[h]D/EFD/TBI population (vs. garden-variety “procrastination“)

What’s the Difference again?

  • ACTIVATION refers to the initiation of an action — the process that gets you up and doing, apart from what inspires you to WANT to be up and doing.

Insufficient motivation – REALLY?

Many (if not most) of the “get it done” gurus believe that insufficient motivation is a primary source of the problem for individuals who procrastinate endlessly.

  • For them, maybe, but my extensive experience with hundreds of individuals with Executive Functioning struggles of all types doesn’t support that simplistic conclusion.
  • In the population I work with and support, I see more than enough motivation and way too much heartbreaking agony over struggles with activation.

According to Wikipedia, “Activation in (bio-)chemical sciences generally refers to the process whereby something is prepared or excited for a subsequent reaction.

Alrighty, as I’ve said before, that definition works for our purposes well enough – as do a number of explanations of terms outlined in various Wikipedia articles on the chemical process – so let’s explore their concepts a bit more.

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Downloadable ADD-ADHD/EFD Coachablity Index™


ABOUT ADD/EFD Coachability

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

In early 1994, to better suit the needs and reflect the brain-based realities of individuals with Attention Deficit Disorders, Madelyn Griffith-Haynie requested and received permission from Thomas J. Leonard to adapt the Coachability Index© that he developed for Coach-U.

The language of The ADDCoach Coachability Index™ reflects the impact of the challenges of Executive Functioning Disorders on learning and accomplishment: brain-based struggles with short-term memory deficits, focus & decision-making, planning & follow-through, sequencing & prioritizing; activation & motivation, mood lability, time-sense & transition-facility chief among them.

© Don’t forget: Adaptions and/or duplication must credit both parties

How Coachable are YOU?

Although it’s been referred to as “ADD Coaching” since I developed and delivered the world’s first ADD-specific coaching curriculum several decades ago, it’s much broader in scope.

This is a particular type of brain-based coaching that works best for anyone dealing with Executive Functioning challenges and attentional difficulties: TBI, ABI, EFD, PTSD, OCD, ODD, SPD, ASD, PDA, PDD, MDD, MS, APD, and MORE.

While the magic of ADD/EFD Coaching is a product of the coaching relationship and it’s ability to compensate for unreliable executive functioning, it only works if and when clients are ready, willing and able.

Are you READY and WILLING:

  • to take the actions that will be necessary?
  • to make the changes that will be necessary?
  • to step, with power and ownership, into the life you were destined to live?

Heck yeah! Seriously, who says no to that?
Certainly not those of us who are struggling!
We’re always ready (for that last one, anyway)

It’s that “able” part that’s the kicker!

Read more of this post

Why you can’t and how you can – Part 1


 by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Executive Functioning Series
(click HERE for Links to ALL)

PFC and EFDs

The PreFrontal Cortex and
Executive Functioning Disorders & Struggles

“The more you know about Executive Functions, their disorders,
and the mechanisms behind them,
the better you’ll be able to build – or rebuild – executive skills,
AS you work around them to manage challenges
and  overcome difficulties.”
~ Madelyn Griffith-Haynie

Cognitive Skills and Cognitive Challenges

Executive functioning processes include working memory, focused attention and attentional control, along with cognitive and behavioral flexibility.

These areas are products of a great many brain-based skills we rarely realize our brain has taught itself to do – unless it hasn’t. 

For example:

In other words, the brain’s Executive Functions consist of a collection of mental abilities that help our brains organize information of many types in a manner that we can act on it.

Executive functioning challenges can produce a wide range of symptoms in wide variety of individuals – as well as in the same individual in various environments, at various times, or as they age.

  • Once sufficient motivation is identified, STRONG executive functioning skills enable us to pay attention, plan, organize, remember things, prioritize, get started on tasks, locate items we’ve misplaced (and ourselves within our world) relatively quickly and easily.
  • With WEAK executive functioning skills – without dedicated focus on developing strategies and work-arounds – handling even the simplest of tasks can become life stoppers.

Recalling a specific term, name or birthday, for example, could be as big a challenge as completing an assignment, finding something important you’ve misplaced or adhering to a schedule!

As I reminded you in the last EF article, Executive Functioning Disorders – not just kid stuff, more than a few scientists position the cognitive and attentional struggles experienced by those with ADD/ADHD/TBI etc. AS a condition of impaired Executive Functions (especially ADD experts who have spent their entire careers studying EFDs like ADD/ADHD).

One of my favorite sources is Dr. Thomas E. Brown from Yale, who has a particularly cogent explanation of EF challenges.  [SEE: A New Understanding of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)]

image source: addwithease.com

For the most part, as I have said many times, the executive functions are mediated through a particular region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex [PFC].

WHICH MEANS THAT 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.  It also includes individuals with cognitive and learning challenges since birth.

That includes individuals OF ANY AGE 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.

Everything is fuzzy when the PFC is doing a sub-par job!

However, thanks to the miracle of neuroplasticity, appropriate intervention can be helpful at any age, allowing your brain to create new pathways it can access more quickly and easily. 

Things can change, even into adulthood – but only once you become aware of the reasons behind the need for change, take new actions, and develop the habit of using them long enough for new “roads” to be constructed between your ears.

Read more of this post

Executive Functioning Disorders – not just kid stuff


 by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part 4 in a Series (click HERE for Part 3)

EFD – the gift that keeps on giving

graphic image of lady in formal dress and long gloves“The more you know about EFD challenges, the better you’ll be able
to help your child build her executive skills
and manage the difficulties.”

~ from a fairly comprehensive – albeit misleading article:
Understanding EFDs – Executive Functioning Disorders.

In fact, MUCH of what you will read about EFD is misleading — UNLESS it makes it clearer than clear that difficulties with Executive Functions are NOT exclusively – or even primarily – a childhood problem.

NOR are the problems rare

In my [25-year] experience with ADD and it’s “sibling” disorders (including TBI, anxiety and depression – among many others), the number of people struggling with EFDs is grossly under-estimated and under-reported.

EVEN an excellent article in a published in the well-respected Journal of Attention Disorders, “Executive Dysfunction in School-Age Children With ADHD” reports that “An estimated 30 percent of people with ADHD have executive functioning issues.” ~ Lambek, R., et al.

AND YET, many ADD experts like Dr. Thomas E. Brown from Yale, who has spent his entire career studying ADD/ADHD, position it AS a condition of Impaired Executive Functions.  
[A New Understanding of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)]

So, wouldn’t that place the best estimate of
the percentage of ADD/ADHDers
challenged with impaired executive functioning
at 100 percent?

But wait!  There’s more

MORE folks on Team EFD than folks with ADD/ADHD

image source: addwithease.com

For the most part, the executive functions are mediated through a particular region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex [PFC].

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.

That includes individuals OF ANY AGE 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.


BY THE WAY . . . if you already suspect that YOU are probably a member of Club EFD, unless your reading skills are EXCELLENT and you are already a voracious reader, enroll a friend, loved one or coach to help you work through the EFD articles.

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Lowering Activation Costs


More on the differences between Motivation & ACTIVATION

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concepts of the Intentionality Series

ACTIVATION can be a BEAR!

From my favorite illustrator, Phillip Martin

From my favorite illustrator, Phillip Martin

As I illuminated in earlier posts of this series of articles – ABOUT Activation, Is Activation “Seeking System” Dependent? and Procrastination: Activation vs. Motivation – struggles with activation are a common occurrence in the ADD/EFD/TBI population.

In our community (prevailing “wisdom” notwithstanding), glitches in the arena of activation are more likely to be behind what is often mistakenly assumed to be “procrastination”  than a need for motivation.

What’s the Difference?

Many (if not most) of the “get it done” gurus blithely assume that insufficient motivation is a primary source of the problem.

Ahem.

For them, maybe, but my extensive experience with hundreds of individuals with Executive Functioning struggles of all types doesn’t support that simplistic conclusion.

In the population I work with and support, I see more than enough “motivation” coupled with way too much heartbreaking agony over struggles with activation.

  • ACTIVATION refers to the initiation of an action — the process that gets you up and doing, apart from what inspires you to WANT to be up and doing.

Wikipedia says, “Activation in (bio-)chemical sciences generally refers to the process whereby something is prepared or excited for a subsequent reaction.

That definition works for our purposes well enough – as do a number of explanations of terms outlined in various Wikipedia articles on the chemical process – so let’s explore their concepts a bit more.

Read more of this post

Executive Functioning, Focus and Attentional Bias


Attention must be paid
How come that sometimes seems
so VERY hard to do?

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

Attentional Bias and FOCUS

“Executive functioning” is an umbrella term for the management (regulation, control) of cognitive processes,[1] including working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, and problem solving [2] as well as planning, and execution.[3] (also known as cognitive control and the supervisory attentional system) ~ Wikipedia

Central to the idea of “control” is the concept of intentional FOCUS.

Intentional focus means exactly that — you can focus where you want, when you want, for as long as you want — and shift focus to something new (and BACK again) any time you want. (see The Dynamics of Attending for the implications of on that idea)

Can anybody really DO that?

Those of us with Alphabet Disorders don’t usually kid ourselves that we are the absolute rulers of our skip-to-my-Lou minds. But even those of you who feel that you do fairly well in that regard might be surprised at how often your focus is skewed unintentionally through a concept known as attentional bias.

About attentional bias, Wikipedia says it is a term commonly used to describe the unconscious inclination to note emotionally dominant stimuli more quickly and prominently, effectively “neglecting” factors that do not comply with the initial area of interest.

The concept implies that stimuli that do not comply with the emotionally dominant stimuli will be “neglected,” reducing our attention toward a great number of the many things coming our way — and ultimately negatively affecting our ability to prioritize action in ways we might ultimately prefer.

Sort of, but not really

While it certainly seems to be true that anything that “hooks us emotionally” will pull our focus away from more neutral stimuli, other reasons for attentional bias exist.

More accurately, attentional bias describes the tendency for a particular type of stimuli to capture attention, the familiar “over-riding” the importance of other input.

For example, in studies using the dot-probe paradigm (a computer-assisted test used by cognitive psychologists to assess selective attention), patients with anxiety disorders and chronic pain show increased attention to angry and painful facial expressions.[2] [3]

But we’ll also see increased attention to an item written in a bold color (or in a person’s favorite color), to names similar to our own among a list of names (or that of a close relative), or a familiar sound mixed intermittently with less familiar sounds.

Scientists believe that attentional bias has a significant effect on a great many items we must deal with moment-by-moment, which tends to have an exacerbating impact on quite a few “conditions.”

Some of those “conditions” include depression, anxiety, chronic pain, eating disorders and other addictions, and many other areas that might not, at first glance, seem related – like task-anxiety and follow-through to completion.

Extensively explored by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman and frequent collaborator Amos Tversky, the concept of cognitive bias explains something that most of us have readily observed, and frequently struggle to explain —

The actions of human beings aren’t always rational!

Read more of this post

Forgetting and Remembering


When Memory Fails

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
From the ADD & Memory Series
Forgetting and Remembering Part 1

Red telehone with memo

Dreamstimefree

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There are three harbingers of Old Age:

one is memory loss
and I forget the other two.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What IS Memory, anyway?

All kidding aside, when we think about human memory loss, what is it that we think we’re losing?

The educated “man on the street” would probably say that memory is our ability to store, retain, and recall information.

And he would be right — but the kind of information we utilize memory to store, retain and recall is more complex and comprehensive than most of us realize (and it matters!)

When we “can’t remember” – when only one component of memory fails us (recall on demand) – it is not really the same as when we “forget.”

Most of the time, for most of us with CRS [Can’t Remember Stuff], the information we are trying to “remember” hasn’t been lost, we just can’t seem to recall it when we need it.

  • It is still stored somewhere in that brain of ours, and we probably will recall it later (once we no longer need it, right?)
  • It’s just that our cognitive file clerk is unable to locate it the moment we ask for it.

Most of us could come up with one or more items on the following list of the kinds of things we know we once knew but can no longer recall – which prompts us to say “we don’t remember.”

  1. Facts of various types (like names, phone numbers, birthdays, or how many pints in a quart)
  2. Intellectual or physical procedures (how to determine the square root of a number, tie a Double Windsor knot in a man’s tie, or drive a stick-shift)
  3. Experiences from our past (from our second kiss to our second-cousin’s graduation from college, as well as what transpired in our own lives immediately before, during or after momentous events in everyone’s “memory”)
  4. Elements of language (noun and verb tense agreement, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, metaphors, similes and more – including how they fit together to form a “grammatically correct” sentence that conveys exactly what we mean to communicate – as well as how to write it down and spell it!)
  5. Locations (how to get to our parent’s new house — as well as where they hide the back-up roll of toilet paper)
  6. Promises and plans (Was that TONIGHT?)

OR anything else we expect ourselves to “remember” without having to “look it up.”

And that’s just the tip of the memory iceberg!

When we speak of memory loss (or memory troubles), we could be talking about any of those arenas, and-a-whole-lot-more!

iceberg-principle


NOT Black and White

We seldom have troubles with ALL types of memory, yet we speak of our unreliable or declining “memory” in a black and white fashion, as if it affected us across the board.

The more you know about how memory is supposed to work, the better armed you are for how to remember things when yours works differently – so read on!

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ABOUT The ADD/HD All-Expert Consensus Statement


books_history

ADD History and Education

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

“Those who cannot remember the past
are condemned to repeat it”

~ George Santayana (1863-1952)
from “Life of Reason

The ALL EXPERT
ADD Consensus Statement

Even as they struggle, desperate for information, help and understanding, MOST ADDers remain blissfully ignorant of the existence of the document reproduced below, much less the information that is contained within it.

Far too many ADD Professionals across several fields are unaware of it as well.

MOST will probably remain so.

‘Sup with that?

I truly can’t understand why even one single ADDer would NOT take the time to make sure they printed out a personal copy of this document and make it their business to distribute it widely.

Read more of this post

Brain-based Symptoms Mandate Brain-based Training



ACO Conference Binder 2012 –
Blog expanded Speaker Content

“Too many people don’t care what happens
so long as it doesn’t happen to them.”
~ William Howard Taft

“Always do right; this will gratify some people
and astonish the rest.”
~ Mark Twain

Throwing down the Gauntlet:
a challenge to ADD professionals

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

Brain-based Coaches for Brain-based Symptoms

As we learned in an earlier article in this series, TBI Part I, neuropsychological impairments caused by brain injury may be characterized in terms of three functional systems, foundational in the Challenges of ADD Spectrum dysregulations as well as those of the community of those who have experienced Traumatic Brain Injuries of various sorts.

(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

Remember also that, according to the
Brain Wellness and BioFeedback Center of Washington, D.C.
there is substantial overlap in the symptoms that are diagnostic
for both MTBI* and ADD.

“Overlap” commonly includes trouble with some or all of the following: 

  • attention
  • concentration
  • distraction hypersensitivity
  • short-term memory
  • organizing
  • prioritizing
  • impulsiveness
  • multi-tasking

 — and occasionally —

  • impaired social skills, and
  • mood swings

These observations are supported by quantitative data from brain imaging studies with children and adults diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.  Single photon emission computed tomography [SPECT] and positron emission tomography [PET] scan studies show decreased metabolism in many areas of the brain that are involved in various cognitive processes including attentional, inhibitory, and decision making behaviors.

—————————————-
*MTB – “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury,”  a term that has fallen into disfavor because there is nothing mild about it’s cognitive after-effects. Research has shown that even a “mild” case of TBI can result in long-lasting neurological issues that include slowing of cognitive processes, confusion, chronic headache, post traumatic stress disorder and depression.

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Procrastination — Activation vs. Motivation


More than Motivation

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concepts of the Intentionality Series

EncourageYOU HEARD IT HERE:  Glitches in the activation arena are more likely to be behind what is often mistakenly assumed to be “procrastination” in the EFD/ADD community than insufficient motivation.

As I said in Part I of this series of articles – ABOUT Activation – struggles with activation are a common occurrence in the ADD population.

Closely related, but not the same thing as,
under-arousal and motivation deficit, insufficient 
activation is frequently misidentified, mislabeled, and totally misunderstood.

Read more of this post

Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Protection


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

Maintaining Cognitive Vitality

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

treadmill_GreenSuit“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 

Our Worst Nightmare

How we hate the idea of losing our
hottie-bodies as we get older!

But that’s not the worst of it.

Probably the most frightening thing — for most of us old enough to truly understand that we will not live forever, anyway — is the idea that we might lose control of our MINDS as we age.

What strikes fear in our hearts is that we’ll lose the links to words, places, our fondest memories, the names of our children — the very things that define our sense of SELF.

Those 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.

The first wave of Baby Boomers – that spike in the population statistics once Johnny came marching home from World War II – turned 65 last year.

Wow.

With the third-act aging of more and more of the Boomers, this conversation will become more and more frequent, as those back-of-the-mind concerns rise to conscious awareness.

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

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ADD/ADHD and TIME: 5 Systems Basics


Exercises in Systematizing

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part 2 of ADD/ADHD and Time: will ANYthing work?

In the first part of this article, subtitled Time Management Tips and Tricks, I promised to share Five Underlying Systems Principles.

Remember: These five underlying concepts really do need to be accepted — with systems and work-arounds in place — before you stand a prayer of a chance of managing your energy within time’s boundaries.

Working effectively within the boundaries of time is an exercise in systematizing.

As I said at the beginning of Part 1 . . .

  • There are a lot of pieces to that systematizing concept.
  • “Pieces” require juggling, cognitively.
  • Cognitive juggling is highly PFC intensive [prefrontal cortex]
  • Guess where the ADD/EFD/TBI brain is most impaired?
    YOU GOT IT – the PFC.
  • Don’t make it harder than it is already – make friends with the concepts below.

Read more of this post

ADD/ADHD and TIME: will ANYthing work?


Time Management Tips and Tricks

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART ONE of two: In support of The Challenges Inventory™ Series

Like I said in an older article, “Listening for Time Troubles – struggles with time and follow through,” a great many ADDers have trouble with T-I-M-E.

• We run out of it
• We are continually surprised by it, and
• More than a few times we seem to be completely unaware of it.

All ADD Coaches worthy of the term must remain aware that Listening For and Languaging to your clients’ awareness of time, and their relationship to time (oh yes, my friends, they most certainly DO have one) almost always involves some serious sleuthing on the part of the coach!

However . . .

Lest I be accused of keeping all the good stuff for the carriage trade (remaining mindful of the need to avoid joining the “Ten Time Tips that will Pay your Mortgage and put hair on your grandfather’s chest” crowd), I’m going to share five underlying principles that I listen for and try to language to my clients and students.

I’ll even tell YOU what I tell them 5 System Basics – but few clients ever really hear me the first couple dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when some of these basics float right past you too.

Let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker — as long as you don’t actively resist, 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 this time thing.

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

ADD

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

ADD/EFD ain’t EASY!

If you read more than a few articles here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com, you will begin suspect that I’m not particularly fond of tips and tricks — and you’ll be absolutely right about that.

Why not?

For the most part, they don’t work.

The neurotypical advice almost always scratches where it doesn’t itch. The reasons they don’t do things are seldom the reasons we don’t.

And then they fire the “resistance” salvo our way — and we fight the urge to do something that will send us to prison for life as they sing another rousing chorus of the “you’re-not-really-trying” hymn of the republic.

Even most of the ADD/EFD-flavored tips and tricks miss as many flavors of ADD/EFD as they catch. It is simply impossible for anybody to write a book that handles all situations for all people – at least not a book anyone could lift. I know. I’ve tried. (Why do you think my articles are so darned long, linked to so many others to cover each individual point in yet another long post?)

So, for the most part, most of the tips and tricks books don’t really work for a great many of us.

WHEN they don’t work, it shuts us down.

We self-flagellate (then ruminate endlessly)

  • Didn’t I do this right, or am I missing a key point — AGAIN?
  • Everybody thinks I just don’t want to succeed, and that’s just not true!
  • Will I ever get a clue?
  • What’s wrong with me?
  • NOW what am I going to do?

We get defensive (then go on the offensive)

  • This book got great reviews, how was I supposed to know it was crap?
  • I work a full-time job and have primary responsibility for 3 kids: meals, laundry, school activities, sick days — how am I supposed to squeeze all these lists and things into my day? Who is this written for – ladies who lunch?
  • Yada, yada, yada, YADA!

Ultimately, we come back to where we started, concluding that “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” management is the most we can ever hope for – until the next time, that is, that things get SO unmanageable that we fall prey to yet another tips and tricks ploy.

Can you tell I’ve been there?

I finally figured out WHY all those tips and tricks didn’t work for me: they weren’t written for ME,
they were a
compilation of items that worked for the author (who was, very likely, NOTHING like me!).  [See Why Tips and Tricks Fail for more]

Once I learned that the root of my chronic disorganization had a NAME, and began to look at everything through The ADD Lens things began, ever so slowly, to come under my control. Simply having a diagnosis shifted my shifted my expectations.

As I said in an earlier article: until we believe we can, we can’t!! 

“How many times can we keep trying until we decide it’s impossible?

It’s a coach’s job to avoid sending their ADD/EFDers off to tilt at windmills. That means, you absolutely must DETERMINE THE CAUSE before you begin to work on solutions.

How much sense does THAT make!!”

But what do you do if you don’t HAVE a coach?

Do whatever you can to remedy that sad situation.  You simply must.

Dr. Edward Hallowell has been quoted many times saying that, “[ADD] Coaching is the single most effective tool for ADD self-management” FOR A REASON!

Coaching may well be “optional” for many, but those of us with “alphabet disorders” (ADD, EFT, TBI, PTSD, OCD, etc.) need the externalization of our prefrontal cortex activities as much as a sailboat needs ballast to keep it from tipping over in the first substantial gust of wind.

And not just any coach – a comprehensively trained, brain-based ADD coach — a coach who has been trained to listen for EFD issues, and understands how to coach them!

Don’t “cheap out” on yourSelf
(and don’t let money be a stopper)

  • If you can’t afford the fees that professional coaches charge, ask about the possibility of a reduced rate. Many of us maintain a few sliding-scale slots, simply because we KNOW how important that external PFC support can be.
  • If you can’t afford even the low rates that many of us slide to, apply for coaching with a student, mentored through an coaching intern program — or go for Group Coaching.
  • If even that is beyond your budget, check out, sign up or get on the waiting list for my next really-low-fee PEER Coaching Basic Training. (click here for information)  Start looking around for a buddy who’s in the same situation — the two of you can trade accountability coaching forevermore. (You don’t even need to take the class, by the way, but it does help increase the effectiveness of what you do together quite a bit).

MEANWHILE . . .

Coming up are some essential concepts that need to be in place before you stand a prayer of a chance — really!  

Don’t beat yourself up about that reality, use it as a lever 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
to start a car that’s out of gas.

  • Agonizing isn’t going to make a bit of difference.
  • Neither will “voting” – you may not like the idea, they may not like 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.

Like a mantra: essential concepts need to be accepted – with systems and work-arounds in place – before you stand a prayer of a chance.

Working effectively within the boundaries of time is an exercise in systematizing.

  • There are a lot of pieces to that systematizing concept.
  • “Pieces” require juggling, cognitively.
  • Cognitive juggling is highly PFC intensive [prefrontal cortex]
  • Guess where the ADD/EFD/TBI/PTSD
  • brain is most impaired?  YOU GOT IT – the PFC.
  • Don’t make it harder than it is already – make friends with the upcoming concepts.

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 needs fixing.  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 beatings begin, as well as when you feel defensive and become offensive.

You can’t eat an elephant in a day — EVEN if you take tiny bites.

In Part Two of this article, we’ll talk details about those Five Systems Basics.  Scroll down for other related articles here and elsewhere.

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Related Content on ADDandSoMuchMore.com

You might also be interested in some of the following Coaching Skills and Practical Application articles

For links to still more: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links (subtle, so they don’t distract you) will turn dark red; AND check out the links to Related Content in each of the articles below

Related articles around the ‘net

Attentional Spectrum Books


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ACO Conference Binder 2012 –
Blog expanded Speaker Content
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – Part 4c


“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.
Albert Einstein

“We spend our life until we’re twenty
deciding what parts of ourselves to put in the bag,
and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again.” 

~  Robert Bly

The Attentional Spectrum through The ADD Lens™

As I compiled this list of “ADD-related” books, I became crystal clear that my concept of “related” is that the book sheds some positive-minded light on the process of attentional regulation.

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Lessons from the TBI Community


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ACO Conference Binder 2012 –
Blog expanded Speaker Content
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – Part 3a

Intractable Ignorance:
forming an opinion without knowing very much about a subject
while refusing to investigate any information
that might change one’s mind;
closed mindedness;
cognitive inflexibility.

Feed Your Head

I will always stare in mouth-open amazement whenever I hear statements that might as well be saying, “I don’t believe that ADD is a legitimate disorder”  from intelligent and otherwise well-informed individuals.

  • Part of the the lack of acceptance and understanding is certainly the fact that ADD/EFD is what we call an invisible disorder — unlike many physical disabilities, for example.
  • Behaviors are visible, of course, but far too many people labor under the illusion that all “[mis]behavior”  is ALWAYS within the volitional control of the person exhibiting the behavior — despite a great deal of research and a great many books from credible sources pointing out the fallacy
    of that assumption.

The far greater problem, however, is ignorance – insufficient information.

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Gathering the Tribe: TBI-2



ACO Conference Binder 2012 –
Blog expanded Speaker Content
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – Part 3b

Intractable Ignorance:  forming an opinion
without knowing very much about a subject,
refusing to investigate any information
that might change one’s mind;
closed mindedness; cognitive inflexibility.

It takes a village to educate a world

To underscore an essential point, I want to reiterate what I said in the first part of this article, making a comparison between the challenges of Traumatic Brain Injury and Attention Deficit Disorder [Lessons from the TBI Community]:

Individuals who find it difficult to “drive their own brains” (in either community) are FAR from having the understanding and support they deserve — from their professional caretakers, the people who claim to love them, or the random strangers on the street who believe they have the right to voice their opinions about the what a fellow human being “should” be able to do “if they really wanted to and tried hard enough.”

Calling the Tribes Together

In the remainder of the TBI section of the Brain-based Resources Series, we’ll take a closer look at some of the well-documented cognitive, mood, and behavioral changes that accompany both traumatic brain injury and Attentional Spectrum Disorders, in service of several underlying objectives:

1. To underscore, embrace and understand what TBI-focused neuroscience has come up with that the ADD community can use to increase our own Read more of this post

BRAIN-BASED OVERVIEW


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ACO Conference Binder 2012 –
Blog expanded Speaker Content
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – Part 2

Neurons that wire together fire together;
Neurons that fire together WIRE together 

We now know that the brain’s neural network respond to stimuli in a self-organizing pattern – beginning with our very first experience with a novel stimulus.

Cause and Effect Linkage

Which neurons “wire” together depends on whether the stimulus is congruent with brain expectations, whether it is reminiscent of another pattern of stimuli, and what happened NEXT.

Some self-help books refer to this neural patterning as “recording new tapes,”
furthering that analogy with terms like “playing old tapes”
— as they encourage us not to.

In actuality, we have no choice: the human brain automatically “searches its database” faster than we can exert any conscience influence over it in the moment!  It’s designed that way to safeguard the survival of our species.

We can, however, make a few tweaks to the system after the fact.

That’s the exciting implication of what we now understand about the brain’s neuroplasticity – the fact that it can CHANGE creates the opportunity for ADD Coaches to make a positive difference in the lives of our clients.

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Making the Connection: Brain-based Coaching Intro



ACO Conference Binder 2012

Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC
Blog augmented
Speaker Content – Part I

Making the Connection:
Brain-based Coaching

White cake with white icing (and a cherry on top!)ADD Coaching is much MORE than ADD Icing on a vanilla cake:
It’s ADD-specific through and through!

Series Description:

EVEN if you understand the impact of an ADDer’s unreliable Prefrontal Cortex, do you know how to tweak your coaching to reflect what you know?

How do the brain’s OTHER areas relate to ADD challenges — and how we need to massage our technique so our clients are able to change can’t into can?

In the articles of this series (blog-edited “reprints” of my speaker’s content published in the ACO 2012 Conference Binder), you will learn what’s going on and what it means – in plain English – and take a new look at  ADD Coaching competencies in light of brain-based understanding.

Understanding this information has the potential to kick your coaching skills into outer space!

Readers of this series will:

1.  Be introduced to the regulatory responsibilities of 4-6 primary areas of the brain that are currently believed to contribute to ADD characteristics, and how the inter-relationship of those areas combine to create the ADD challenges and strengths described in the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, published by the American Psychological Association)

2.  Come to a new understanding of the “conductor” role of the Prefrontal Cortex, along with why it is not optimally effective to focus ONLY on the PFC in our attempt to understand or coach ADD challenges.

3.  Begin to develop a set of competency-linked skills specifically tailored to compensate for the differences in the ADD brain-style, allowing you to begin to come to a brain-based understanding of how, where and why ADD Coaching and vanilla coaching differ.
—————————–
“Vanilla” coaching,  unflavored by techniques tailored for those with Attentional Spectrum differences, is the established coaching technique used by coaches who are not trained to work with ADD; older technology designed to be effective with the neurotypical brain-style,

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Alphabet Soup


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EFD, ADD, ADHD, HRT, MBD – WTF?

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

Hold onto your hats everybody, there is discussion afoot toward yet another renaming of ADD (currently “officially” ADHD) — and the front-runner seems to be (at the moment, at least), EFD.

I wouldn’t block consensus on EFD.

However, as illuminated in an earlier article on this site [ADD – What’s in a Name?], I don’t have a problem with the acronym “ADD” — as long as we focus on the disorder of THE ATTENDING MECHANISM and the Dynamics of Attending.

In other words, the essential point, for me, is that, for whatever reason, ADD is an impairment in the extent of one’s ability to pay attention, STOP paying attention, and/or to get back on track after an interruption or distraction.

  1. Focusing on the intended object;
  2. Sustaining the focus;
  3. Shifting focus AT WILL

Underlying each of the Dynamics is the same impaired element of cognition common to all of the Executive Functioning Disorders: VOLITION.

That’s INTENTIONALITY, boys and girls – being able to drive your own brain and run your own life, rather than being at the effect of chronic oopses and mishaps.

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