Your current and past family relationships are a major reason why attention deficits and disorders occur. These case studies from my new book provide you valuable insight How Family Circumstances Contribute To Attention Deficits
An excerpt from Brian Sheen book The 7 Keys One for Attention Development a ®2015 All Rights reserved
Latisha and Jessie were prime examples of the influence of how distress causes biological constrictions that negatively influence your attentiveness. When Jessie, fifteen, arrived at my office with his mother he looked pale and stressed out. His breathing was shallow, his embodiment frail and he constantly fidgeted. His attention strayed from one object to another every few seconds as if scanning for potential danger.
His mother, Denise, hid her stress well. She learned long ago to mask her true feelings inside. She explained how Jessie had been diagnosed four years earlier as having ADHD and had a learning disability specific to reading and writing. She handed me an in-depth psych evaluation, which indicated that he suffered from anxiety and depression. This is a common diagnosis of individuals suffering from stress related symptoms. Jessie had been rated with high scores on the ADHD Index DSM IV Inattentive and Impulsive test - 78, 73 and 79 respectively. The report emphasized how he had “significant inability to maintain attention which interferes with his cognitive academic processes” It suggested he be prescribed ADHD medications. Yet Denise refused to give Jessie any medications. Instead she placed him in a private school that had a special program for ADD and ADHD children. “I have taken my son to an acupuncturist, massage therapist and behaviorist to help develop a program for homework and school. Nothing had made much of a difference to date.” she shared with anguish.
None of the doctors or alternative therapists she’d consulted with had examined the family system in which Jessie was immersed. Children are the fruits on the family tree and if the fruit isn’t thriving you must examine the conditions that nurture and support the tree. A safe and supportive environment is an essential key to attention-ability; whether at home, at work, in school or in your neighborhood. The quality of the water, earth, air and sunshine influences the development of the fruit and the sap, which feeds it. As I began my investigation I learned that Jessie’s relationship with his father was causing him severe uncertainty and distress. Whenever he mentioned his father he became constricted and tense. “My father is very demanding and runs our household like a general. Everyone is expected to obey, no questions allowed!” He described how the interactions between his parents were confrontational and resentful. Denise confirmed how she also was treated without respect, like a private in the army were her exact words. Their family dynamic was a continual source of distress, which perpetuated an
underlying fear that chronically lingered inside them both.
Although Latisha’s situation was far different than Jessie’s, it produced a similar distress response. How someone interprets a situation and the emotional intensity they invest in it is what determines the degree of influence. Latisha was only eleven years old when her distressed mother Dory brought her to meet me. “I am at my wits end” she shared “I have no idea what I can do to help her”. Latisha was highly energized and inattentive to what her mother and I were discussing. This was her way of coping with the distress she felt subject to. The psychiatrist’s evaluation of Latisha which Dory handed me “charged” her with having ADHD as she was easily distracted and not paying attention to schoolwork. As such she had been sentenced to a daily dosage of Focalin, to help her fit into the system. Unfortunately, the diagnosis didn’t examine the underlying distressing influences of Latisha’s restlessness; her unbalanced family system, her ineffective schooling and her lack of training to focus, relax and release stored up energy.
Pills do not address distressing influences; they numb and disassociate you from the feelings they produce. The distressing influences continue while the drugs disassociate the user from the symptoms. Medications cannot educate, train or coach an individual to make effective changes in the way they focus, communicate and think. Like most parents, Dory felt guilty she had placed her daughter on the ADHD medications. She saw the medications horrible “side” effects in her daughter of feeling wooden, disconnected and unable to sleep. Her fun side had become empty and she felt responsible.
Up until now Dory’s solution was to force Latisha to respond in the way she thought her daughter should. Many parents use this same disconnecting strategy of external control as you reviewed in Key Five. This approach only contributes to the stress and need for acting out possibilities. Whenever Dory communicated with Latisha her eyebrows raised, her face became hardened and her voice intensified making Latisha feel unloved and unsafe. Once outside her mother’s hearing she shared that “She yells at me all the time, I hate it! She calls it being fussy, I call it being angry”. Yet Latisha’s disconnection was not just with her mom – it was with Dad and her family. She said that she felt that the people in her family didn’t want to be bothered with me.
Living in a stressed home environment where you don’t feel safe and secure is a breeding ground for ADD/ADHD. These conditions promote imbalance, instability and illness. When this is combined with a threatening environment at school, the seeds of disorder and dysfunction are nourished. Acting out, impulsiveness and emotional chaos are its’ side effects.
The stressors in Latisha’s and Jessie’s family system required immediate action to help them free up their trapped attention and life-force energies. It wasn’t merely the ongoing negativity that needed correction but the layers of fear and armoring from years of feeling under attack. Stress release is also the essential process of releasing the emotional and physical distress Doing t allows the attention trapped “back then” to be liberated and fully available for now as ischemia is reversed when this is doneThe pain, agitation or distraction this constriction was causing, ceases to occur.
Dory was happy to learn other ways to communicate to her daughter and stop using external control techniques. She worked on the Key Five tools and strategies to make many improvements. The stress from the lack containment and support with her father which contributed to her feelings of being an outsider was easily solved. Dory scheduled Latisha to have personal time on a weekly basis with her father. He was happy to do this and this became an important turning point for Latisha to feel reconnected to her family again.
Jessie’s situation was far more complicated; it was not unusual for him to come to class still angry due to a fight he had with his father. At first his father was not willing to consider new approaches to his relationship with his son. This provided Jessie many opportunities to use the tools and strategies of Key Six for releasing his pent up hostility. The racket smash, bed tantrum and standing tantrum (detailed in the tools that follow) provided a release of the stress build up in his body. Tension builds up anytime bodily impulses are repressed and held in with muscular and breathing constrictions. He the stress release processes any time there was an awareness of pent up inner energies that he labeled as anger. He learned to do this in a healthy setting away from others, to ensure he doesn’t act out or repress his natural impulses.
Eventually his father agreed to see me to support his son’s progress. He was in an overwhelmed state troubled with a failing business and lousy relations with his parents. Through our discussions he realized his role as his family’s General was an unconscious acting out of how his mother ran the household while he was growing up despite his oath to himself as a child that he would never act this way when he became a parent. Recognizing this helped awaken him from the “being the general” trance to being willing to find another way. He really wanted the best for his children. This would be the beginning of a long road of personal transformation but one he was willing to work on.
This example provides another important insight to the value of forgiveness. Whomever and whatever you don’t forgive is held inside you like a virus. Each time you consciously or subconsciously remember the harmful event you replicate the memory to add more of what you don’t want into your memory banks and your body. These memories slowly seep into your very being and overtime you take on the very qualities you despise! What you resist you become. You end up dwelling on another’s most negative aspects and this leads you to ignore their good qualities. This traps your attention in the past on unloving and distressing experiences and weakens your focus in the present. Yet because of your constant giving of attention to these qualities, they are imprinted inside you and run uninhibited in your sub conscious mind building strength like a hurricane in tropical waters!
Whenever external control is used to force others to submit to your will, it is a violation of their being. This greatly disturbs their internal balance and strength as they internalize the negative interactions and start looking for something wrong within. Defense mechanisms are erected which take attention away from the present and invests them in the past with anxiety about the future. Externally controlled individuals often feel they must be guilty of something for this to happen and start finding fault and imperfection with themselves. Being falsely accused creates a sense of guilt when there is nothing to be guilty of! This is worse than if there really was something to be guilty of where you can acknowledge and correct it. Distraction, agitation and disorder take hold. frees your feelings of guilt and the compulsion to project your guilt on upon others. Forgiveness removes the need to externally control others in attempt to alleviate your fear of undesirable consequences. Forgiveness lets you give up all hope that you can make the past any better so it can be let go and forgotten. Forgiveness is a purifying process to feel your innocence and stand with full presence, looking toward the future with a new vision of unity, trust and love. Forgiveness is the most important tool you can use at work, school and in any family or organization to reconnect and refocus members of the group instantly!
Over the course of the training Latisha, Jessie and their parents used the many techniques of forgiveness to let go of the present stressors and past distressing memories. It helped reorient them to what was “here and now”, versus being entangled in what was “there and then”. With each instance of stress release new references were installed that emphasized what was right about themselves and others, not what was wrong. External control tactics were slowly replaced with trust and empathetic communication. Stress levels dropped markedly as they saw each other as loving companions on their life’s intertwining journey.
Latisha made great progress and by week seven Latisha was taking only half her previous dosage. She was feeling a deeper emotional connection with her family. By week ten she was medication free and consistent in using all the tools she had learned. Dory also felt much calmer herself. Her relationship with Latisha and her husband was greatly improved and they now communicated without yelling.
Although stress release is our Sixth Key Attention Development, it may be the most important. Holding on to any negative emotion, conflict, judgment or criticism has the ability to make it very difficult to give that person or anyone associated with them, your full attention. When the mind is focused on a past event or its fear or guilt about a future event, it is not present and attentive on the current event.
By the time Latisha finished her training she was getting B’s and C’s in school as compared to her previous D’s and F’s while on medication. She felt in control of her life, excited about her future and connected lovingly to her family.
Jessie’s most difficult class, which monitored his time being on task, was now regularly 70 to 80% versus 20% just months before. His unstable family system, was improving greatly while Denise began to stand up for herself and take her rightful position as the center of her family. This provided a needed containment for Jessie who felt safe again at home. This note she wrote me sums it up well. “I’ve finally had my “ah ha”! The obstacle that has always eluded me –I do not need permission to be me. I am…I no longer feel the need to justify my point of view or position or need to explain my needs, my choices, or my process. What I am doing or saying needs no explanation or excuse. It just is what I am in this moment. I am entitled to my opinion because I am and so are you. No one had to understand or give me permission to be me. I am completely okay with being or not being accepted. Either way, my life will go forward and I will be happy with what I’ve chosen for myself. Thank you for this precious breakthrough year - Hooray!”
The book, The 7 Keys For Attention Development is now available at Amazon.com
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