Category: Time & Stress Management

Photo Courtesy of PBS:                   What Irma Left Behind

Hurricane Management and Leadership that Works

Strong Leadership and Hurricanes are very similar in that they are both transformational, purposeful, and engaging. However, one way they are very different is that leadership cannot be a force that cannot be reasoned with, otherwise, it will have consequences one of which is follower attrition or turn-over.

 

Many automatically associate Turnover with cost cutting, downsizing and poor employee engagement although this is not always the case. There is a type of turnover that is the voluntary kind and is in fact good news for an organization, especially when the organization aspires to be a Learning Organization. Take a technology company like Google, if Google hired three hundred entry-level engineers in 2014 and in 2016 had a voluntary turnover of 50%, is that a bad thing? No, absolutely not. On the other hand there is turnover of the voluntary kind that is due to poor employee engagement, lack of productivity, poor innovation, lack of job mobility, poor communication, etc. This is a real dilemma with real implications. But there is also a turnover of the involuntary kind that occurs during change. It is associated with engagement, poor communication and culture issues, centered around change, but not necessarily discontinued after change.   Take the case with GE.

 

GE Case Study

Consideration of GE has reportedly announced layoffs to balance spending cuts   This information comes merely months after the move of their corporate headquarters to Boston. Beside the fact that GE is among the various organizations the government bet on funding over $150 million in state and city subsidies, we wonder whether there is also a hyperbole parallel to their GE –Workout Method at play here.

As I/O psychologists we are of the understanding that change in large organizations is not a magical wave of a wand Despite evidence-based practices that help organizations save money, work more efficiently and increase employee engagement, the true road block to effective change remains to be institutional inertia. And what is inertia? Is Inertia just lack of movement, or is it lack of agreement?

One of the key aspects of the GE-Workout Method is that Leaders and managers identify areas for key business improvement and challenge those closest to the work to recommend ways for reaching that goal. Then on the other hand, those closest to the work, make specific recommendations in how to meet the goal and implement the approved recommendation within 90 days. Well, call us idealistic, but isn’t there an underlying assumption at play here? A key business improvement is all we heard. We didn’t hear any information in the form of initial feedback or observation even from or about the people who are running those business units. Now in developing this process, GE has presented the case that it fights beaurocracy. But if the identification of the problem is still rising out of the Leadership and Management, isn’t that more of the old beaurocracy? In a survey of clients of the GE Method it was cited that 20% mentioned the “risk of sub optimized analysis and decision-making” that can result from the Work-Out’s requirement for executive, on-the-spot decisions. Another 20% also mentioned “executive anxiety and defensiveness” with regard to the speed and process of decision-making.

 

Why Employee’s Emotions Matter

 

The limbic system, which combines higher mental functions and primitive emotions into one system, tells psychologists that decisions cannot be solely made by the cortex. It’s not only responsible for our emotional lives, but also many higher mental functions such as learning and formation of memories. According to the study presented in Association of Psychological Sciences . “When individuals are making a financial decision, “reflections” often occurs. Under conditions of acute stress, increased risk taking behavior was observed”. In fact, neuro-imaging and bio-feedback data has shown that stress may influence neural responses to feedback in the ventral striatum suggesting that stress may dampen our perceptions of the subjective value of our decisions.  

 

In truth, employees are people and people can only function if they feel valued and understood. In fact one of the key aspects of Emotional Intelligence is that those with higher emotional intelligence are expected to be able to manage stress more effectively and draw boundaries as necessary to protect their emotional wellbeing. According to Equity Theory, if employees’ subjective measures of stress are heightened because an employer’s expectations and respect for the employee are inequitable, or one sided, the employee will not feel supported, capable and keen to cooperate. In other words, the employer’s valuation cannot be effective if it is conditional. If in response to a key business issue, there is havoc and crisis, threats of job cuts, and focus groups designed to make changes fast, morale will be shaken and human capital will not be onboard. Financial results can only be gained through consistent, human capital or people practices. And it is our strong belief that through consistent and supportive processes, problems could be researched and identified within the existing systems and then through behavioral science tested and implemented in large-scale, low-cost approaches rather than job elimination.

Photo credit: Naional Geographic Kids

We all know that negative thoughts directly impact our happiness.  But did you know that negative thoughts are actually literally poisonous to our psychological and emotional health?

Case in Point

 Let’s imagine you are sitting in your family room after having watched the news on TV regarding the much anticipated hurricane Irma. You are by yourself and go to bed immediately after, with thoughts of worry and concern. Am I prepared? Did I buy what we needed? Is our home insulated well? Then all of a sudden, the rain starts outside and you hear drops of rain tapping on the window. Before you realize it, the sound magnifies and all you can hear are the water droplets on the window. You start by thinking “oh my gosh, what if that leaky faucet we’ve had in the kids bathroom doesn’t handle the pressure? “ “What if the pool overflows into the house? “What if Katie accidentally falls in the pool when she is out doing her business?” And on and on and on, your thoughts are racing. You have to wake up early the next day and you have now spent over an hour tossing and turning in bed, flooded with so many negative thoughts about a hurricane that has not even been determined to effect your area.

How Did You Get Here?   

All of this was triggered by the sound of rain. Something simple, was transformed into something very hazardous by your thoughts. Automatic Negative Thoughts are just exactly that. Slow, but consistent at first, and then turn by turn, they have the potential to form in to a category 5 hurricane if we allow them. Its possible to stop them, but very difficult.   Why? Because they have literally gotten your mind sick!

Here’s how thoughts grow into a phenomenon in our brain within the Limbic System. The two very serious illnesses of depression and anxiety are heavily caused by rumination, obsessions and the elaborate need for control of people and our environment. The need for control first begins with a single thought “what is going to happen?” Then it begins to take hold of our psyche and quickly turns in to fear, if it is not reasoned with. Why fear? Because the answer to “what is going to happen?” will always be “I don’t know”. If voluntarily stopped right away with a statement such as “I guess we will have to see” or “god knows” or “no one knows” or my personal favorite “let the chips fall where they may” we will ride through a few seconds of concern and then the gateway to fear will close. Otherwise, if the gate is opened and we answer “gosh, what if ….”, or “this is not good” , or “why did he say that and not …’, or “is it because I said,,,,”, we have now entered the land of chaos, despair, hopelessness, and self-doubt. There is a Liberian proverb that says: “ Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.”

What Are you Thinking?

Every time you have an angry, scary, sad or happy thought, your body releases chemicals that activate your brain’s limbic system. Dr. Mark George, M.D., from the National Institutes of Mental Health, demonstrated this in a significant study. He studied brain activity in 10 healthy women under three different laboratory conditions. Through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), their brains were viewed as these women were illicitted to think happy, neutral and sad thoughts. During the happy thoughts, the women’s brains demonstrated a cooling of the deep limbic system. During the sad thoughts, there was a significant increase in deep limbic system activity. This is evidence that our thoughts tell our bodies what to do and hence we can tell our thoughts what to think. Polygraph and Lie detector tests, or what we actually believe to be most accurate here at the Center for Work Life, through Credibility assessment and Facial Action Coding, are based on this Limbic System response algorithm.

The Make Up of the Limbic System

The various parts of the the Limbic System, the Hypothalamus, the Amygdala, the Hippocampus, and the Cingulate Cortex all have different functions and hence different hormones associated. The hormones are impacted by our thoughts and set the tone for our emotional wellbeing. The more unhappy, fearful, anxious thoughts we have the more sick our brain will get and the more those thoughts will form within us.   The same way, our immune system weakens with lack of sleep, alcohol, poor diet etc. Happy, positive experiences and thoughts are like boosters and vitamins for the Limbic System.

Photo Credit: Think Tank Centre

 

 

To Be or Not to Be Following our Thoughts

Just the same way as our thoughts can work for us during a speaking presentation, when we are excited and a surge of adrenaline allows our brain to give the best performance, or when we meet someone, and know we are attracted to them because, butterflies form in our stomach and think we want to have a meaningful relationship with them, it can work against us. Many people believe just because it is a thought, it must be true. Well, that is not correct! Unless you consciously think about your thoughts, they can form pretty automatically. We can think of them as pimples. Yes, your skin can automatically form pimples, but with a good skincare regimen coupled with the proper water intake, and diet and exercise, your skin is constantly resurfaced and cleansed, training everyday to not have pimples.

Socio-cultural Influences

Our culture is one of future planning. College savings, Life Insurance Policies, 401K plans, Saving’s Bonds, Mutual Funds, and even Home Mortgages etc. are all designed tools for the future. Forget about the concept of Capitalism and who profits here, and let’s stay with the “what” part of it. As human beings, were we meant to be future oriented? Or did we become conditioned somewhere along the way to become that way? Well, looking at Research in to other mammalian species, the dog for example, could help us realize that, we could be perfectly content living in the moment. Now, we are not advocating going out and maxing out credit cards, and forgetting about saving for our future, but we are saying, we can plan for tomorrow but live for today. In other words, when we think about happenings around us, we can use our Emotional Intelligence and divide them in to three categories easily: 1. the plannable, 2. The unplannable, 3. Somewhere in between.

 Whether we are working a full-time job out there, or working full-time at home, as a home maker or parent, our work week is in The Somewhere in Between category. We can plan what activities we want to be engaged in, whom those activities will be involving, and even times those activities can be scheduled for. However, the outcomes of those activities, the length in real time it will take to complete the actitivities, the propellers vs. the hinderers will not be plannable. If you try to plan or analyze, or predict outcomes, you will spin yourself in to anxiety. The trick: You have to stop any future oriented, uncontrollable outcome related thoughts right away before they get hold of your brain. In other words, if they have already gotten to the 3rd scenario or “what if,” in this case, they are way too powerful to stop.

8 Everyday Exercises for a Healthy and Happy Brain at Work or in Life

  1. I am not in control; a power greater than me is.
  2. I surrender and accept whatever comes my way
  3. Uncertainty is a part of being alive
  4. When I am faced with an activity that worries me, I will imagine my favorite beach and I will get in, prepared but free to experience every wave.
  5. I will cross bridges as I arrive at them, and enjoy the process no matter what
  6. As soon as a negative thought enters my head, I treat it like a hurricane warning, I prepare, stay alert but calm, and use my support system.
  7. Keep record of my past trials and accomplishments and send empowering messages to my psyche
  8. I push myself to stay present in every task circumstance and tribulation.

 

 A very powerful quote by one of the most celebrated Persian Sufi Poets of the 14th Century Mahmud Shabistari said: “The past has flown away. The coming month and year do not exist. Ours only is the present’s tiny Point.”

 

Executive Time Performance Management

The culture of quick riches, and success by how much you own and how many people you know, has given life to a “more is better” mentality. Movie such as Equilibrium, and Limitless have portrayed the transformation of the human capacity with “miracle” prescription drugs that allow one to do more with their time; and without care.

 

What came to life as of lack of concerntration, possibly due to exposure to too much stimulation such as gaming and televion in the 70’s quickly transformed in to the labeling of ADHD in children. Since the diagnosis was first introduced, the use and prescription of stimulant drugs has overshadowed what in actuality was a result of proper time management. Today, there are millions and millions of Americans using and abusing and becoming addicted to drugs such as Adderall and Concerta because they feel they need a boost in their energy and performance and the nonmedical use of Adderall is a large part of what this accounts for. Since 2012, for the first time doctors have been writing more prescriptions for stimulants for adults than for children and one of the greatest at risk populations for Adderall use are professionals ages 25-44.

 

Executives and entrepreneurs often feel trapped because they are feeling overly stressed, or are faced with some realities that are alarming to them. May be they feel their job has no future, or that they simply are not able to do the things that are meaningful to them in the time they have. They feel their passion and drive for life and their work is not where it used to be. This is usually a precursor for high levels of stress, bodily symptoms, chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression.

 

Executives are often times perfectionist. They usually push themselves to the limit; racing against the clock with a thousand things to do in one day. It is very typical for them to plan too much in one day and feel exhausted and unsatisfied with their day’s accomplishments. Feeling dissatisfied, agitated, an run down is the breathing ground for a spiral of anxiety and depression.

 

A large part of Emotional Intelligence Training is self-management. Learning to say “No” and knowing when to give yourself a break is easier said than done. At the Center For Work Life, one of the first steps we introduce in the coaching process for stress and time management is the discovery of purpose and spirituality. We don’t call it Time Management, but Energy and Performance Management. Replacing old behaviors with new ones requires open space; open space to allow introspection and reality checking and questioning some of the programmed patterns that have become engrained in our psyche. Here, we start by thought provoking questions such as What am I all about? What in my life gives meaning to my existence? What are my passions and how am I feeding those today? Am I fulfilled in my career? Taking the time to answer these questions will open the door to nurturing your spirit and you then begin the healing and growth process.

 

So what about Time Management? At this point, it is “time” to note that in our book, time is not in our control.   It cannot be stopped or pushed around. So it isn’t time per say that we need to learn and focus on managing, but rather ourselves. Have you ever asked yourself “Am I allowing others to manage and direct my life or am I living My Life?

 

Here are ten questions you can answer to find out:

 

  1. Do you take on tasks as they come your way?
  2. Do you plan your day according to a set number of tasks ?
  3. Do you use caffeine, sugar and other stimulants throughout the day to keep alert and get through the day?
  1. Do you feel guilty saying “no” to other people’s demands on your time?
  2. Do you take on highly demanding days with rigor and push yourself?
  3. Do you feel you have to get through your list and do everything yourself?
  4. Do you have negative and irritating people around you that demand you  attention?
  1. When you feel tired, do you talk yourself through it and keep going?
  2. Do you constantly respond to emails, messages, calls, visits, and family without me time?
  1. Do you have a difficult time relaxing and feel guilty when you do nothing?

 

If you answered yes to at least four of these questions, you would be happy to know that you have lots of room for growth and recalibration of your stress management and time satisfaction techniques. You are probably someone who is not quite comfortable spending time with or on yourself. Performing at your best, does not mean running on high horsepower, 100 miles an hour. Learning to recognize your body signals, including your brains processing ability, and compassionately nurturing your inner learner to utilize your problem solving skills and critical thinking, will enable you confront something that none of us truly have control over; Time.

For more free tips and techniques for a better work life, visit our website at www.centerforworklife.com.

     Besides their good looks and the assortment of talents, what do Ryan Gosling, Woody Harrelson, Adam Levin, and Jim Caviezel have in common?

Well, although La La Land, the 2016 motion picture starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone delighted many audiences and brought home Oscar Awards in six categories, in our trivia quiz, it doesn’t get the cake. The answer is also not that they are all male actors, because in spite of his many talents, Adam Levin is a musician and not a Hollywood actor (yet). The answer is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.   Yes, all of the individuals listed above have received a formal diagnosis of ADHD or ADD at some point in their lives.

 

     In an era where psychological disorders are unfortunately still not a topic at the dinner table because of the various mental health care barriers such as limited availability and affordability of mental health care services, insufficient mental health care policies, lack of education about mental illness, and stigma, it is encouraging to know that successful public figures, are paving the way for this vicious trend to change. Mental disorders have been a true silent killer for decades also because they are not immediately fatal. Millions of people in the US alone are suffering in silence because our Individualistic society, encourages independence over asking for help. In developed countries, the treatment gap (the percentage of individuals who need mental health care but do not receive treatment) ranges from 44% to 70%). According to Unite for Sight, The World Health Organization cites a global lack of comprehensive mental health policies, which are crucial for implementing and coordinating mental health care services, as a key barrier to public access to mental health care. Among countries with mental health care policies in place, approximately 40% have not been revised since 1990 and do not address recent developments in mental health care. Furthermore, 22% of countries do not have laws that offer legal protection of the human and civil rights of people with mental illnesses. Let’s face it, if someone, especially an adult is already feeling helpless because their symptoms are inexplicable and are effecting their daily lives, including their employment, making them feel alone and different, they are already at odds with getting the attention they need. Now add to that the myriad of hurdles they are faced with as mentioned above and what you have is a lifetime of struggles, possible isolation and unmet potentials. Fortunately, in the U.S. there are a number of federal laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities, including mental health illnesses. The main one is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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     ADHD, one such psychological disorder is a common neurobiological condition, which is usually supposed to be diagnosed in childhood. Originally it was thought people would “outgrow” the condition as adults. However, 60% to 90% of adults continue to experience symptoms (Barkley et al; de Graaf et al). Both Emotion Management one of the four dimensions of Emotional Intelligence which aids in reading emotions in yourself and in others, and managing them effectively, as well as Executive Functioning (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes, including attentional control, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility, as well as reasoning, problem solving, and planning, that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior. The selection and successfully monitoring of behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals are thought to be functions impaired by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder both in children and in adults and there various severe consequences to deficits in EI and Executive Functioning that negatively impact individuals including those with ADD or ADHD.

     Diagnosis of ADHD or children’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are now certainly more frequently noted, due hugely in part to the role of government funding of school support programs, involved parenting and teacher education. However, this wasn’t always the case. In some children, now adults, especially those belonging to the Xer generation , this diagnosis was delayed or perhaps never given. There are several explanations for this. One explanation is that especially in Generation Xers (those born between 1965-1980), because there was an increase in dual income parents, the prevalence of Latch Key Kids, or children who were raised with less adult supervision than prior generations increased, which meant psychological disorder like ADHD in children 5-13 were less likely to be noticed by parents at that time. Then of course, in adulthood years, an ADD diagnosis can easily be missed due to gender, and or comorbid depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders, and/or other psychiatric conditions.

     Although ADD is still thought of as something that affects only men and boys, women are just as likely as men to have ADD. In fact, the latest research suggests that ADD causes women even greater emotional turmoil than their male counterparts. Consequently, ADD women are more likely to go undiagnosed (or misdiagnosed), and hence less likely to receive the appropriate treatment.

     According to Dr. Fred Reimherr, M.D., director of the University of Utah Mood Disorders Clinic, ADD has a disproportionate impact on women. “The women had a much more frequent history of having been diagnosed with other emotionally based psychiatric illnesses, such as depression or anxiety. A woman might come in presenting emotional symptoms, and the ADD that’s underneath might be missed.”

     Under-diagnosis of ADD in women could be having its roots in social norms in childhood. Because girls generally tend to try harder than their male counterparts, if they have symptoms of ADD, they will try to compensate for and cover them up. To keep up their grades, girls are often more willing to put in extra hours to study or to turn to others for help.

In addition, girls are more likely to be “people pleasers,” doing all they can to fit in, even when they feel they are “different.”

 

     Overall, whether male or female, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Signs and symptoms of ADHD in adults can be hard to spot and no single test can confirm the diagnosis”. Impulsivity, distractibility, disorganization, restlessness, emotional outbursts; in children, these symptoms would be recognized by a teacher, and the parents would be referred to a medical professional for an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) evaluation. However, in adults, these symptoms may lead to people getting fired, getting divorced, or simply being labeled as lazy or irrationally angry. Many people with ADHD struggle with controlling the outcome of their actions and then have to face the consequences.

     A recent World Health Organization (WHO) study estimated that 3% to 4% of adults worldwide have ADHD, with a rate of 4.5% in the United States (de Graaf et al, 2008). Of those, a large number—possibly 8 million to 10 million—are undiagnosed. Millions more do not receive appropriate treatment (Barkley, Murphy, & Fischer, 2008). The WHO study also reported that adults with ADHD miss an average of more than three weeks in workplace productivity yearly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009) has estimated the costs of such work loss to be at $3.7 billion.

     Problems associated with ADD most commonly occur during college years, at work, and in interpersonal relationships. ADHD usually interferes with the individual’s sense of self-control and sense of self-efficacy, thereby affecting his or her ability to establish and follow-through on reasonable goals, deadlines and promises.   Small tasks considered simple to others, could be a cause for problems in adults with ADD that can lead to bigger problems in various life domains. Examples include procrastination, poor time-management, disorganization with space, thought formation, and even speaking, distractibility, and poor emotional regulation.

     At the Center for Work Life Within Dr. Namin’s practice, many work-life issues are intertwined. An employee may be self-referred because he or she feels overwhelmed with stress, or burned-out, or because they don’t feel productive anymore. Or they may be referred by their employer, because in spite of their incredible knowledge, skills and proficiencies of their specific jobs, their co-workers or worst yet, their direct reports don’t feel they have the interpersonal skills necessary for leadership. During initial discussions, it usually becomes apparent, that they have s messy work area, trouble initiating tasks at home or starting and finishing projects at home and/or work, chronic lateness, underestimating the time needed to complete tasks, an inability to focus and listen during discussions whether at home or at work, and forgetting or missing deadlines or previous engagements.

     However, in addition to these common symptoms of distractibility and impulsivity, ADD symptoms may manifest as problems in impaired ability to plan and prioritize tasks and jumping from one task to another and not completing either. These are what’s called executive functioning abilities.

Employees with ADHD are rated lower on work performance, are more prone to receiving disciplinary notices from supervisors, are paid lower salaries, and produce lower quality work (Barkley et al; Ramsay, 2010). The truth is that Adult ADHD is rarely recognized in the workplace, and those with the condition may be labeled as anti-social, or poor performing employees or horrible bosses, that are at best tolerated, and at worst terminated, depending what their skill-sets are, making career advancement or even maintaining consistent employment difficult.  According to the BMJ Journal, ADHD was associated with a statistically significant 22.1 annual days of excess lost role performance compared to otherwise similar respondents without ADHD.

 

       Considering we spend so many of our days and waking hours at work, our perceptions of life are hugely related to not only our performance but also our relationships at work. In a study measuring the effects of ADHD on perceptions of life satisfaction, among males, poor social functioning was the best predictor of dissatisfaction with life, whereas among females it was poor emotional control. Both ADHD symptoms and associated problems are significantly related to poorer satisfaction with life.

 

     It may be interesting but not surprising, when a top-performing employee or C-level executive with a tenure of 8-10 years is referred to the Center for Work Life for Interpersonal disconnection, or lack of empathy, or following. It is ironic that some adults with undiagnosed ADD may be viewed as hard-working or top performing, due to what is called hyper-focusing. This is where the undiagnosed individual over the years, has built a coping mechanism for distraction by self-training to be so focused, that they become overly absorbed in one task, causing the individual to become oblivious to his or her surroundings, losing track of time and neglecting other duties or more importantly significant members of their lives, such as supervisors, spouses, co-workers, children, etc. Hyperfocus at work may be viewed as productivity but in the overall scheme of life, if left unmanaged, can lead to social isolation, being perceived as a workaholic and a self-centered, emotion-less individual. We will come back to this specific topic later.  

 

     So why are many ADHD diagnosis given to males than females? In a study published in the MBJ Journal, ADHD was found to be more common among males than females and less common among professionals than other workers. These findings of course are parallel to the disparity in how ADD is diagnosed as mentioned above. In short, because ADHD symptoms in adults, include low self-esteem, memory problems, lack of motivation, difficulties with emotion regulation which depending on personal background display differently in genders; they can manifest as agitation or a short temper, depression, or reckless and risk taking behaviors. In other words, adult ADD can cause a major havoc, silently in all realms and facets of a person’s life and in both genders.

 

 

     In our conflict resolution practice, we have noted many clients who are directly impacted by the pressures of ADD on their marriage or relationship with a partner. The complaint of the non-ADD partner, that at the dinner table, their partner is either “playing with their device” or is “somewhere in la la land”. A partner with ADD may be forgetful, disorganized and distracted, and failing to meet their everyday responsibilities or obligations. They may not be attentive to expressions of feelings, or not be able to communicate effectively because they missed signs of discomfort, or frustration from their surroundings. They may be having difficulties with coping with work stress and hence not able to separate their work and life. They may be the overreacting partner or, they may feel the other partner is overreacting because they don’t realize they have missed the cues the non-ADD partner has been giving them prior to the escalation. Worst yet, the ADD partner may seek risk-taking behaviors that could be considered a huge breach of trust in the relationship. Over time, the non-ADD partner may interpret the ADD partner’s failure to carry out commitments, or their poor communication, lack of empathy, or conversely emotional outbursts as evidence that the ADD partner doesn’t care or love them. Unfortunately, without treatment, all other attempts to resolve the issues may fail, because the ADD partner “keeps making the same mistakes”. Consequentially and eventually, the partner may burn out and the marriage may fail.

 

     In the a study which researched the ADHD and coping and stressor reactivity in University students, ADHD and ODD symptoms were significantly related to a number of stressors and different patterns of coping strategies. University students with symptoms of both ADHD and ODD display a different pattern of stressors and different patterns of coping than those with symptoms of ADHD only.

     In the article, The Impact of ADHD on Marriage, the authors describe several measures to help aid the diagnosis and interventions process.

Furthermore, in studying martial adjustment and perceptions of marital dysfunction, a study revealed that married adults with ADHD reported poorer overall marital adjustment on the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS; Spanier, 1989) and more family dysfunction on the Family Assessment Device (FAD; Eptein, Baldwin, & Bishop, 1983) than control adults.

Moreover, in yet another study, adults with ADHD displayed greater self-reported psychological maladjustment, more driving risks (speeding violations), and more frequent changes in employment. Significantly more ADHD adults had experienced a suspension of their driver license, had performed poorly, quit, or been fired from their job, and had a history of poorer educational performance and more frequent school disciplinary actions against them than adults without ADHD. Multiple marriages were more likely in the ADHD group as well.

     According to the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, in studying The Nature of Executive Function (EF) Deficits in Daily Life Activities in Adults with ADHD and Their Relationship to Performance on EF Tests, It was found that the ADHD group had more severe EF ratings than did the Clinical group and Community control groups on all 5 scales using both self and other-reported versions. The EF ratings were more highly associated with measures of deviant behavior (antisocial acts, crime diversity, negative driving outcomes) than the EF tests, most of which were unrelated to such behavior.

     It is a very sad thought to imagine the potential of a human being is limited because of lack of information, or misinformation. There is a strong feeling of loss and despair while the individual is grappling with what seems like a strong hold on their ability to make strides. They are constantly remorseful, yet helpless when they are faced with tasks that seem so easy for others and their confidence ever so flighty. On the other hand, there is nothing more frustrating than a co-worker, parent, a teacher, a supervisor or a spouse feeling that they are at their rope’s end because they are at odds with what is to be done when there is the respect and/or love they feel for an individual, which otherwise is so full of promise.

     But it doesn’t have to be this way. Among many psychological disorders, ADD is among the ones highly researched and various forms of therapy are available. It is neither wise nor healthy for an individual whether a child or an adult to be just in therapy or just on medication for ADHD. It is instead, recommended that a structured pragmatic, psycho-educative approach combining medication and cognitive-behavioral approaches be utilized. The aim will be the development of specific self-management skills, within a cognitive behavioral framework. Career, team, family, marital and group therapies are also discussed. Life is the hope of living one’s dream each and everyday, but it doesn’t mean it has to be lived in La La Land.  Furthermore, the EEOC laws governing disabilities, aka ADA, employers are now bounded by law to provide reasonable accommadations to employees that make them aware of their ADD.  It is a big controversy to tell or not to tell.  But in an era where mobility, ambition, and individualism are the norm, one has to weight the cost and benefits of privacy vs. trust, growth vs. tolerance, etc. It is our hope that the  laws of our country become even more empowering for workers in the near future, so that individual talents can truly and completely color with rainbows the immense possibilities.   

 

     During the past few years, I have increasingly come across more and more individuals, both men and women who have expressed “boredom” with their relationships or worst yet, with their marriages. In the tradition of research, I sought to discover what were some of the reasons for the boredom and here is a compilation of some of the reasons I was able to find:

-Busy schedules

-A lot of routine and predictability

-Tedious repetition

 

                     -Lack of surprise or delight in the relationship

                    -All Efforts toward providing for the family financially

                    – The males perception of the females’s lack of hobbies outside of the marriage and family

                    -The females Perception of the male’s lack of initiative and planning for joint and dynamic

                      activities whether as a couple or as a family 

     According to an article in www.foryourmarriage.org, “for some couples boredom is accepted as suffering to be endured. Common passive ways to escape boredom are to sleep or daydream. Other couples expend considerable effort and expense to remedy boredom through elaborate entertainment. These are only temporary fixes, however, since boredom is not so much dependent on one’s environment as a lack of imagination. You might say it is actually the person him/herself who is dull”.

     In a 2014 article in the Huffington Post, a 24-year-old male complains anonymously about the fact that he’s become so bored in his relationship with his wife, that he is considering divorce. His chief complaint: “she’s not passionate about anything, but us”. He goes on to say that although he doesn’t mind that she doesn’t work outside the home, and he’s the breadwinner, but he does mind that “she is not even passionate about a hobby”. Within that same thread, interestingly, a commenter on the thread, a female responds that “may be it’s not her and may be it’s you”. She says this after she says that her husband chooses to go party with his friends in an irresponsible manner, and hence she feels she needs to be the responsible one. We say, it’s probably a combination. It takes two to Tango as they say.

 

     Why not both parties put some effort? And no it’s not just about “spicing” it up with sex toys and other “extracurricular” activities, because those can eventually lead to boredom as well. How about instead, we start by avoiding what we should do, and do what we feel, and treating the relationship like it’s a person rather than a thing. Many couples assume that a good relationship just is. It’s fun, loving, exciting, etc. etc. all on it’s own.  They assume that if their relationship gets stale, it’s a bad relationship and it’s written in the stars. Not True. It was during the Season 6 and Episode 15 of Sex and the City that I first discovered the verb “shoulding”. The episode basically described that as women, we are particularly vulnerable to doing what we should be. For example, the show mentioned, should be married before our 30’s, having a steady income and a high profile job by the age of 30, and children before the age of 35, etc. Samantha had just been in a clinic testing and a not so pleasant experience hit her in the face. Later on, in observation, Carrie reflected in her column and wrote, “Why are we shoulding all over ourselves?”

     Relationships are hard and marriages even harder. This is of course because the investments are stacked up higher. So, in addition to constant problem-solving, Perseverance, and an attitude of “I’m in it to win it” are key during the hard/boring times. As long as you know the relationship is good for you, and I want to emphasize the importance of that differentiation, keep the friendship and the passion alive.

     Here I venture to going in to the topic of Relationship Rut with some of those views but also taking a global view because let’s face it, a 50% divorce rate is not anything to brag about. First comes love, then comes marriage, has turned in to first comes divorce and then comes bankruptcy. What gives?

     I want to first begin with a preface; that not every happy relationship has to end in marriage. Not every happy marriage needs to have offsprings, (one of my favorite parts of the Lion movie was the part where actress Nicole Kidman playing the role of Sheru’s adoptive mom tells him that adopting him was a choice and it was not because her and her husband could not bare children). Also, not every long-term marriage is a successful marriage just because it has lasted. The point is that, we as a species, have many facets to us and one of those facets is our need to relate and feel understood by our partners. We’ve been acculturated to not just mate and then leave one another, but rather to pick a mate and live our lives as partners, and if we decide to procreate, raise our offsprings together. But the trouble is that the work that goes in to that, did not come with an owner’s manual.

     Different cultures and peoples of the world, have lived, loved and perhaps married in their own way and have tales to tell. Those tales have given life to today’s values and as 21st century inhabitants of earth, we live the luxury to pick and choose which values work for us and that we “should” rather than fall into. Even back in the days when options were next to none, and oppression pressed like a cloud hard on women, as per an article by PBS Khadija, the first wife of the Prophet Muhhammad,  a confident and shrewd businesswoman, first hired the Prophet to lead her trading caravans, and then although many years his senior, proposed marriage to him. She was also the first person to convert to Islam.  If she could choose the way she lived her life and led her relationship, then we all can as well.

                                                                                                Here are my top 10 recommendations for 

How to avoid relationship Rut:Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 3.09.28 PM

1.Treat the relationship like a Person not like a thing! Think, Plan, Act is what we call them. Think about how your significant other makes you feel and how you want to make her feel. Plan dates, outings, communication points, getaways for her alone and for you both. And finally, play your part by executing those plans. And if you see shortcomings as far as what they can do better, don’t hold back. After all, a large part of conflict resolution in any relationship is to foresee and plan for positive outcomes rather than avoiding the uncomfortable conversations.

 

  1. How ya doin? Whether by phone or in person, ask your partner, what’s new in their life at least once a day and listen with intent. This helps you keep a pulse on the relationship, and you are a pro-active rather than passive participant. Because women are more communicative, most men falsely believe that they are in charge of the relationship and they wait and wait for the female to express their wants and needs. And that is not only boring but also not very satisfying for the woman.
  1. Confucius says. As a cultural group, Asian Americans are sometimes referred to as the “model minority” This is based on their relative success (in business and education), strong family ties (and low divorce rate), and low dependency on public assistance. As a group, Asian Americans have the highest percentage of marriage (65 % versus 61% for whites) and the lowest percentage of divorce (4% versus 10.5% for whites). No culture is perfect because, as we know, no human is perfect. But, being that cognitions give life to behaviors, it is noteworthy to know some of the cultural values that may help with keeping the longevity in Asian relationships. According to www.healthymarriageinfo.org , one such value differentiation is the fact that Asians do not believe that love in a relationship needs to be vocal; in other words, they believe that rather than extroverted expressions of love, a good relationship is based on silent, yet persevering acts of self-sacrifice and long-term and undissolvable commitment. See other values here.
  1. Singin’ in the Rain. You know that one song or series of songs, which as soon as you hear immediately, brings up a warm feeling to your heart or a fond memory of a happy occasions? What if you could actually duplicate that feeling and multiply by 10? Take some time to make a playlist of favorite songs you both love. Make one list of slow and one list of fast songs and call them “Our songs”.
  1. Vents without borders. One of the biggest complaints that exist in relationships goes like this:

          “he never listens to me”, or “she is always complaining”.

          These statements are one of the reasons boredom creeps in. And in addition to boredom, a myriad of              

         possible other not so positive feelings such as resentment, or annoyance.   Freud the father of

         psychoanalysis believed in a process called Free Association. This is basically where you vent and vent

         and vent and allow your thoughts and feelings freely flow and get expressed without feeling judged or

         interrupted. Almost Everyone’s phone comes equipped with a voice recorder these days. Rather than

        call up your friend, your family member or your partner after not having seen him or her after

        however  long it may be, use the recorder to your hearts content to vent and vent and vent some more.

       And once   your venter is emptied out, you will notice a sense of relief, which will allow you to be less

        neurotic, and more relaxed.  

  1. Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Depending on our current sense of self, and previous experiences with certain tasks, we constantly go from the feelings zone to the cognitions zone. In other words, sometimes we want our partners to be compassionate and just listen, and sometimes we want our partners to help us problem solve. Rather than just vent without purpose, first decide in your own mind which zone you are in before you bring your partner on-board, this way you avoid the pitfall of feeling unheard or thinking your partner is unable to help you.
  1. Simon Says. Share where your head’s at. One sentence is all it takes. Ex. “I have had a very exciting day and I feel very energetic!” , “I Have had a very demanding day and feel exhausted!”, “I’ve Had a situation with a coworker and feel furious!”, “”our daughter has been nagging for the past hour and I feel depleted”. Etc. etc. This emotionally intelligent technique accomplishes two things at the same time: a) it allows you to acknowledge your feelings, and b) it informs your partner what they can expect and what you can expect of them. This step should definitely be done after you’ve already done#3. Then, you start with the sentence, ask for a time line of 5. 10, or 15 minutes for yourself, and then you end with one sentence that summarizes how you feel/think as described in #4 and provide that information to your partner. Ex. I feel stuck with a situation at work and need your help to problem solve. Or Ex. I am very pissed with something that happened today, and I am sharing that with you so you don’t think it’s about you.
  1. Rome was not built in one day. Romance is not just hugs and kisses, flowers and chocolate. It is common interests. You don’t have to hibernate the entire week or the entire month, because you are waiting for that vacation, that event, or that invitation. Live your life for today and build everyday moments together. Build a bucket list of everyday activities, fantasies, places, or discoveries you both like to make together and depending on your schedule, designate one day of the week to take turns and do them together.
  1. Knock it out of the park. For those week days where you have had a very busy, stressful and possibly annoying work day, have on reserve a brainless exercise where you both let off some steam while having a fun and silly time. Yes, rather than the usual “lets have dinner and veg in front of the T.V., how about some of these activities: playing a favorite video game from your “Our Songs” library from #2 above, taking a 15 min walk holding hands, observing the scenery around you and not saying a single word, playing a favorite relaxing/up beat tune (depending on your energy level) paired with a nice glass of wine, cup of relaxing hot tea, or warm milk with honey and ginger and dancing together, etc. etc.
  1. Surprise, Surprise. Many couples, especially those with small children fall into the rut of thinking they need to do every task in their household before venturing to make love with their partner. Big Mistake! Locks, music and action is what we say! Sex before anything else. Saving the best for last is not always the way to go people! Remember the scene in Pretty Woman, where Richard Gere returns to the hotel after work, and Julia Roberts or Vivian as she is called in the movie greets him with her nude body, wearing nothing else, but a tie she has bought for him earlier in the day and Kenny G is playing in the background? Close your eyes for one minute and imagine one of you at the stove, and the other walking through the door. You exchange a quick hello and a quick glance and then off you go to the routine of homework, getting food on the table, then clearing the dishes and cleaning and before you know it, it is 8pm and time to go to bed. By this time, your passion has been replaced by stains on your shirt from cooking, tired feet and over stimulation from adhering to everyone’s needs except for yours and sex seems like another task. Flip the switch and put that fun activity first and what you have is more love in the kitchen, more peace and relaxation over dinner around the kids, and more smiles. Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 3.13.42 PM

And oh yes, do not bring the Tube into the bedroom. I repeat do not bring the Tube into the bedroom This includes, laptops, smart pads, phones, and even books, yes I said even books. Your bedroom should be your sanctuary and retreat cave. The only stimulating and entertaining thing in it should be the two of youAll and all, do not treat your marriage as a finished product, but rather as something to cultivate. That is a realm of Confucianism as opposed to the western thought as well; marriage is the beginning of a love affair rather than a happy ending to a romance.

 

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