Impulsivity & Anger: Don’t Believe Everything You Think


Cognitive/Emotional Impulsivity

Managing the gap between impulse and reaction,
on the way
to putting a lid on “Response Hyperactivity”

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

Driving Lessons

One of nine areas of concern measured by The Challenges Inventory™, the Impulsivity category measures impulse control, in many ways the indication of our ability to contain (or at least tolerate) the frustration of waiting.

In other words, the condition of our emotional brakes.

  • Individuals who are relatively balanced where impulsivity is concerned manage risk and drive behavior by weighing possible rewards against possible losses — which implies a brief moment of reflection between impulse and action.
  • Some individuals who say they prefer staying with what’s comfortably familiar, avoiding risks and risky behavior are ABLE to make that choice because they have what I like to call a relatively “low idle.”

In other words, activation takes more energy than the norm, so they often spend more time in the gap between impulse and action than the rest of us — the opposite end of the impulse control dynamic.

While I’m sure they’re grateful for small favors, avoiding a ready-fire-aim-oops situation, their lack of decisiveness costs them dearly in some arenas. Same tune, different verse.

  • At the other end of the impulsivity scale are individuals frequently described as “risk takers,” supposedly because they are strongly attracted to and excited by what’s new and different, lured into action by the call of the wild. These are the folks who are normally labeled IMPULSIVE!

I have observed that individuals who are repeatedly reckless have emotional brakes that have never been connected or, in the presence of the excitement of the moment, brakes that fail.

Good news/bad news

Impulsivity, while certainly a nuisance at times, is an important personality characteristic.

Giving in to impulse without pause for reflection can result in some fairly unfortunate outcomes, of course, but it would be just as unfortunate if that trait had been bred out of our species entirely.

We’d probably all be dead!

The trait of impulsivity is believed to have evolved as part of our fight or fight mechanism that kicks in automatically when our lives are in danger.

The survival of our genetic ancestors depended upon their biological ability to respond effectively to circumstances where strength and action needed to be marshaled immediately.

Since our cave ancestors who did not stop to reflect during life-threatening situations were the only ones left alive to pass their genes on to us, it would seem as if impulsivity is “hard-wired” into the human brain.

In appropriate doses and situations, it is actually a good thing. Not only does it help save our bacon when we find in ourselves dangerous situations, it’s what gives life those moments of spontaneity that make it fun to be alive.

Still, depending on its intensity, a tendency toward action with little to no thought or planning can get us in a heap of trouble. That’s usually when others refer to our behavior as impulsive – and it’s usually when life is suddenly not so much fun (for us or anyone around us!)

Impulsivity in the Emotional Arena

Most of us who have an impulsivity component to whatever else is going on with us have a pretty good idea of where our problems with impulsivity are likely to show up.  If not, we can always ask our loved ones – believe me, they know!

But the most troubling manifestations are internal – what we think about what’s going on around us.

A balanced degree of impulse control implies that we are ABLE to take a moment to control observable behavior, of course – and that we DO that – but there’s more to the story.

It also implies that we are able to monitor and moderate our thoughts and emotions with a moment of reflection between impulse and reaction.

That’s where things get tricky.

When our thoughts jump from item to item (often referred to as cognitive hyperactivity – a mind in overdrive or a “busy brain”), many of those thoughts quickly lead to emotional reactions.

As clinical psychologist Ari Tuckman, PsyD, and author of More Attention, Less Deficit: Successful Strategies for Adults with ADHD reminds everybody, some individuals  “tend to feel and express their emotions more strongly.”

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Low-grade Impulsivity Ruins Lives Too


Identifying “Garden Variety” Impulsivity

The first step on the road to change

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

Garden-Variety Impulsives

Serious Impulse Control issues cannot be resolved by attempting to follow advice gleaned from a quick trip around the internet — or any Series of articles written to help you improve your level of self-control and accountability.

If you suspect that your problem with impulsivity is severe enough to need professional help beyond ADD Coaching, THAT is one impulse I encourage you to act on immediately!

But that is NOT what this article is designed to help you identify.

I want to encourage those of you whom I call the “garden-variety impulsives,” to stop comparing what you do to the far end of the impulsivity spectrum.

I’m hoping to be able to convince at least some of you to stop fooling yourselves into believing that you don’t really have a problem, as the joys of life that could be yours remain forever out of reach.

Because “low-grade impulsivity” is something that can be changed relatively easily in a “self-help” fashion or with some focused work with a private ADD Coach or in a Coaching Group.

Life looks up when you do the work.

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The Impulsivity Rundown™


Widening the gap between Impulse and (re)Action

(from an upcoming book, The Impulsivity Rundown © – all rights reserved)

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

Garden-Variety Impulsivity

Let’s be really clear about the focus of The Impulsivity Rundown™.

While ADD is included among the list of diagnostic Impulse Control Disorders, we’re NOT going to focus on the more extreme end of runaway impulsivity.

Impulsivity that leads to the kind of serious harm where you are likely to spend some time in an Institution, or spend more than a few years on an analyst’s couch, or wind up on a first-name basis with every Police Precinct in your area, is beyond the scope of ADD Coaching or this Series — things like:

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My favorite Boggle Room


An Example from my life

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

My favorite Boggle Room —
because it was the most effective

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

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

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

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Boggle: Driving “Miss Crazy”


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Hover before clicking for more info

Defensive Driving!

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

Driving the very car you HAVE

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

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

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

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

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Boggle Background


What’s Going On Here?

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

A Little Background

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

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

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

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

So Let’s Start with YOU

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

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

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

You are trying harder.

It won’t work.

In fact, it will make things worse.

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Sort of a SITE-MAP


Scroll down right sidebar for direct links to 25 most recent posts ==>
====> Click HERE for The Master LinkList — a better way to find older posts on this site (by topic too!)
– repeated again below, btw

Last Addition below: Sunday, May 25, 2015 – 12:25 am Eastern

Links by type of article on ADDandSoMuchMore.com 

with gratitude and props to artist/educator Phillip Martin
for allowing me to use the amazing artwork you’ll see
on a great many of the posts here —
CLICK HERE to read all about the incredible things HE’s up to!

Unfortunately for all of us, there doesn’t seem to be an automatic way to generate a site-map for you on this site with this template in WordPress.** Ay me!   So I set up my own version.

Scroll down and I’ve categorized links for you manually.

Below a bit of verbiage and a plea for help is my whenever-I-get-time-to-do-it attempt to organize some of the content to help you navigate to what you are most interested in reading.

PLEASE help me spread the word that my 25 years of reading and research
is posted here for free!

• Tweet  • Reblog  • Link  • Email  • Alert your Social Networks

It takes a village to educate a world

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ABOUT Impulsivity


Risk, Reward & Impulsivity

Managing the gap between impulse and action

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

Many professionals agree that “impulsivity” is one of the most confusing of the official terms in the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual updated and published by the American Psychological Association).

The confusion is especially problematic because impulsivity is one of the diagnostic criteria for Attention Deficits.  The biggest source of confusion is linguistic.

The term “impulsivity” is unfortunate.

So many concepts are implied by the root word “impulse” that, even once we identify impulsivity as an area that needs to be managed, it’s really tough to figure out how to do it — or even what’s involved.

The truth is, we are ALL are at the effect of “impulsivity.”  Impulses drive the conscious actions that contribute to much of our forward progress.  Even “instincts” are driven from impulses – the only real difference is that those impulses are below the level of consciousness.

Another biggie among the ADD problems is activation.

What IS activation, if not an impulse.

Murkier and murkier, this examination toward clarification!

Okay, let’s not get into semantic discussions that split hairs. Individuals will be considered “impulsive” only when impulse leads to action without a pause for thought.  That works, right?

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ABOUT ADD/EFD & STRESS


Low Stress Tolerance

Sez WHO!?

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

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

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

Everybody has a problem with stress. 

Nobody reacts well to it in the long run.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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