Episode 25: Our Personal EF Hacks: Cognitive Flexibility

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Our Personal EF Hacks: Cognitive Flexibility

Cognitive flexibility




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Welcome to the Personal Brain Trainer Podcast.

I'm Dr. Erica Warren and I'm Darius Namdaran and we're your hosts.  Join us on an adventure to translate the scientific jargon and brain research into simple metaphors and stories for everyday life.  We explore executive functions and learning strategies that help turbocharge the mind. Come learn how to steer around the invisible barriers so that you can achieve your goals.  This podcast is ideal for parents, educators, and learners of all ages.

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What are we going to talk about today?

Well, we're following in on the theme of executive function hacks, and we're going to do cognitive flexibility.

We did executive function for working memory, and then we did inhibitory control.

And now it's cognitive flexibility.

So I know that you've done a lot of prep for this. So why don't you kick us off?

Okay. The first thing we could do is just a quick review of what cognitive flexibility is.

So we've talked about this in past episodes so you can always go back if you want to dig deeper.

But basically, cognitive flexibility has to do with having a flexible way of being, so that you can manage different rules for different situations - that you can see diverse perspectives - that you can shift easily from one task to another.

And what are your thoughts about that?

Given the additions to that, I wonder if it's maybe a little too easy to mischaracterize cognitive flexibility and to mischaracterized as openness.

You know, like sometimes people, if you look at personality.

But I, I wonder, tell me more Erica.

But it seems to me that flexibility is more about how to adjust your view of things to the reality of things before you, and this interest between your perception and your expectations and your desires.  And then the reality of the environment you're dealing with, whether it's market forces, natural forces, personalities, relationships around about you.

There's this dynamic between what you expect and want and what reality is feeding back to you.

It's funny that you say that because I've been thinking about this a lot today, and that makes me think about something that popped up for me earlier.

Which is that when your cognitively inflexible that you tend to have more of a fixed mindset and when you're cognitively flexible, you have more of a growth mindset and you are more open to creative ways, like out of the box learning or out of the box solutions.

Whereas you know when you're when you've got that kind of cognitive in flexibility, it's just it's really hard for you to step out of your way of being in that moment, and it could be an emotional response, or it could be a You might have a very fixed perspective on a point of view.

So we talked about this quite a lot in and out of different episodes.

What sort of hacks have you got?

What, what sort of things do you do to help you be cognitively flexible and make it more useful to you?

Because these three elements of executive function skills, working memory, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility are all three core elements of getting things done in this world.

Working, memory, gathering, information and experiences that are coming towards you.

Inhibitory control is about maintaining your focus, ideally on your own goals and targets.

And then cognitive flexibility is about how you contribute to society or your contribution.

You're you know, if you think of it as three steps is take king stuff in the middle step is the sort of internal focusing of it working on it.

And then the third step is the cognitive flexibility is the contribution.

As it were, you could make something or do something, and you've got a I've decided to do this or whatever and the rest of the world goes, we don't want it you know, or it's not quite right.

What's interesting is cognitive flexibility can come at the end, but it can also come in the beginning because you have to be cognitively flexible to shift from one task to another.

Yes, that's true.

All three are working simultaneously rather than exclusively.

Yes, almost like the lighting of the match, in a way, the instigator.

But it's also the sometimes the solution.

So it's really interesting.

So this morning, because this was actually our second take on this, and I felt like I had to prepare a little bit more for it.

And interestingly, I had an experience yesterday when I was incredibly cognitively inflexible where I had to go to jury duty.

And that was really frustrating for me because they people they were picking had to serve for 18 months to two years and work for $50 a day.

And that was every Tuesday and Thursday, So I triggered a really inflexible side of me.

I think most people would get shocked by that.

Unless, of course, you're employed, and then your employer has to pay you to go and do jury duty or something like that.

But not as a self-employed entrepreneur.

That's right.

So if you're self-employed your soul proprietor, then you don't get paid.

So yeah, it's very, very, very interesting.

But it was such an eye-opening experience for me in the sense that I was so emotional about it.

I was so anxious about it because they don't tell you lot of things and you’re blind and you lose control - the situation made me really sit down and say, Okay, what does it look like to be cognitively in flexible?

And what does it look like to be cognitively flexible?


And this really, really helped me, and it's really helping me to define what it means for me to step into a more cognitively flexible way of being.

So my first thought was, the people that are cognitively inflexible tend to think that what they believe is right, and I know I can be cognitively inflexible.

My relationship with my ego gets triggered and, you know, like I'm right.

No, I'm right, you know, that's a very flexible way being and really the antithesis of that is to enjoy new perspectives and enjoy learning new perspectives and enjoy accommodating others needs beyond our ego.

And then the second thing I came up with is that people that are cognitively inflexible tend to give up or get frustrated when they do not succeed, right?

And I definitely feeling that a little bit yesterday and then the antithesis of that is tends to try again when you don't succeed.

So it really breeds that sense of resilience where you bounce back against adversity.

And then the third one that I came up with is those that are cognitively inflexible tend to be very judgmental now, and this is a perspective.

So you may agree or disagree with some of these things.

And if you do have a thought, jump in now the opposite of being that judgmental.

So if I was the opposite of being judgmental, would be more like were being compassionate and accepting.

So if I was more cognitively flexible, I would be more compassionate and accepting of situations.

Another one I came up with is people that are cognitively inflexible tend to like people that agree with their point of view, whereas people that are more cognitively flexible tend to have a more diverse group of friends that have different perspectives, and they enjoy that.

I have three more people that are cognitively inflexible, generally are less accepting and are more negative, which I think versus if you're really cognitively flexible.

You tend to be more accepting and positive.

And I'm just even thinking of yesterday when I was really cognitively and flexible, I was so anxious and so negative versus when I could just step out of that in flexibility and be more flexible and even think about how I could integrate this into my life and it being a civic duty v my whole energy field changed, so it's really interesting.

Another characteristic that I came up with about being cognitively and flexible is when you struggle when things don't go your way versus the opposite of being cognitively flexible when you kind of roll with the punches and you work through difficulties by trying new strategies and then finally cognitively in flexibility for me is kind of seeking arguments and having that fixed mindset like, no, I said it this way.

I didn't see it that way, right and then versus the opposite of that is seeking solutions is that cognitively flexible way of thinking is seeking solutions and having that growth mindset and even seeking tools, which is what we're going to really be getting into, such as nonviolent communication, compassionate communication.

After all of that I've just said, what is that trigger for you?

I think about these three areas of executive function working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility, and I often map them to people who have difficulties with those areas, and you can learn a lot from the people who have difficulties with those.

So, for example, often people dyslexia have working memory difficulties as well as processing difficulties.

And people with ADHD can have difficulty with the inhibitory control in the middle and maybe autism.

You know, towards this cognitive flexibility, I'm characterizing it.

But what's interesting is that for every 11 or two of these areas will be natural to us.

An automatic and another area will be an area we have to develop and grow as a skill in our mind, and I think it's interesting to see reflect on ourselves, and I don't think about inhibitory cognitive flexibility too much because I think I'm pretty flexible and sometimes to my detriment.

I think I think you can sometimes be to cognitively flexible and so that those are some of my thoughts.

And I think I often noticed with some of the clients when I'm working with people with dyslexia is often, they're very cognitively export people there.

The type of people who really do want to learn new perspectives bounce back there, always trying new strategies.

They have a growth mindset, etcetera, and yet they're working memory side of things can be really tough, and their inhibitory control and staying focused on something can be really hard.

So, you know, we've all got those strengths and weaknesses.

So that was my first response to it, because I think I don't have very many hacks that are explicit in the area of cognitive flexibility because I think if you're automatic at in natural at it, you start asking other people questions and having people gathering intentionally.

When I'm going to YouTube, I intentionally search for the opposite idea of certain things, you know?

Why do trump supporters think this or why do such and such Democrats think this.

And why I'm always wanting to have Why do people not believe in Bitcoin?

I believe in Bitcoin, for example.

But give me a contrary in perspective on this.


Hammer my perspective, please.

So that it's kind of like a hammer molding metal really gets beaten and stress test stress test ideas.

I naturally, like doing all of that anyway, you know, just listening to you brought up something for me, which is I think, that all of us can struggle with all three executive functioning features characteristics.

And I think this tends to happen when our medulla gets triggered.

So when our, um it gets triggered that fight flight freeze response.

Yes, it tends to block executive functions.

Oh, that's a great one.

You're so right.

You are so absolutely right.

I see it.

My wife.


My wife is such a well-organized in control systematic thinker.

She is just executive function.

She's got it.

She doesn't have working memory difficult.

She is focused on point.

She Okay, maybe there's a bit of cognitive flexibility.

Sometimes she's worked a lot on that over her whole life.

And she's got a lot of cognitive flexibility, but the moment she starts getting really stressed out with work, she's starting to, like, forget things like I would.

And I'm like, hey, you're acting like you're dyslexic and she's like, yes, I am.

And it's simply the stress.

This response is overpowering some of those natural skills and training that she's got.

It's being overpowered.

Yeah, it's been a really interesting revelation just in this conversation to think about it that way because, you know, if we're really going to be looking for hacks for exec functioning, perhaps we have to look for hacks that calm the media or enable us to manage our media.

Isn't that an interesting thought?

That is, I think that's genius.

I think you're absolutely right, and you kind of stated something that is sitting there in plain sight.

But the biggest return on investment is to have full access to your executive function skills rather than being blocked.

And so that's the key.

You're right.


I've got something to share with you that relates to this, and I like sailing.


For me, sailing is one of those environments where you have to be so cognitively flexible.

It's just so extreme.

You know, there are times when we're talking about getting frustrated when you do not succeed, you know, and needing resilience to bounce back, even being judgmental.

You know, it's like sometimes you go out on the water and you're like, oh my goodness, the wind is so strong or oh, my goodness, the windows so low or the current is running this way, or I want this to happen.

I want that to happen, but you're having to constantly adapt all the time.

And one of the things that I'm about to do is to sail from Ireland to an island in Scotland called Iona.

It's a dinghy, which is, uh, eighty-six-mile nautical mile trip following the journey of Saint Columba and Brendon in an open boat, rowing, and sailing.

It's been one of my ambitions for 15 years, and it's going to happen in September.

But over those five days, one of the biggest things that I'm going to have to deal with is cognitive flexibility, because I've got five days to do this trip and you're always having to make lots of good little decisions that the goal I found in cruising in a sailing, but or sailing in anyway.

It's just I keep saying to myself, Darius, make lots of good little decisions, lots of good little decisions.

It's like, oh, there's a rope lying there.

I'll just leave it.

No, A good decision is role that up, because if that gets caught, my leg and so on, you know, do that.

Okay, I'll do that.

Yeah, I'll just go and check the hatch that we've got no water and oh, yeah, good.

And all these tiny little decisions, you know, looking at the wind.

And adjusting the sales and balancing the boat and being aware of where the gusts and the winds are.

And there's just all these various different elements in your world that you're having to read and adapt to and work with, rather than imposing your will on it by share force of a motor on a motorboat or something like that.

Yeah, so what you're talking about is you want to manage your executive functioning skills.

You want to be very mindful.

You want to be in the moment, which is really kind of the inhibitory control.

You wanted you.

In some ways you want to have your blinkers on, you want to be inhibiting things that aren't helping you, right?

In other ways, you want to be cognitively flexible in other ways.

You want to be using that inner voice, which is part of working memory.

It's really interesting, but I think, you know, and even to help you coming up with strategies to manage our media because when you're sailing and if there's if something goes very unexpectedly, it's going to trigger your amygdala.

And the question is, what can you do to counter at that feeling or that emotion?

Yeah, And I was in a situation like that, so I was out at sea.

I live on the north, the west east side of Scotland, in the North Sea, and so we've got, like, 15, 10 to 15 ft high wave, sometimes coming in from the sea, and my boat is 16 ft long and it's an open that you go on sale.

So sometimes the waves are higher than my boat as long, and this time I had a child on the boat and some new sailors and so on, and it was getting really tough, really hard, really fast.

And I was like, I don't know what decision to make.

Should I go over there to the safe harbor?

Should I run to this beach over here?

Should I turn around and go back to the harbor?

I've got to do something, and all were realistic possible decisions and still safe.

But in that dynamic, you know your cold, your wet and you're anxious for the safety of other people.

And that was the big thing for me was the anxiety for the child because he was feeling seasick, and I was worried about him.

If it was just me and another adult or two, we could just hack it out and just blast through it and suffer through it.

And it would be what we would call Type two fun.

You know, it's not fun at the time, but afterwards you look back and go, Yeah, that was good.

But in that situation. I was anxious about the child, and that did start to affect my decision making.

That's really interesting.

So let's talk about some hacks and a couple amygdala, mellowing hacks that I can think of is Now, let's just make it really clear.

Um, if you're using a technical term, not everyone is used.

We can replace the deal with the normal word like stress or anxiety.

Or is there something it could be?

Anger could be.

You know, it's really about kind of an uncontrollable, negative emotion that that makes us panic.


Okay, it's the difference between reacting and responding, isn't it?

You know, it's an extreme reaction.

Yeah, emotional reactions.

Okay, emotional reactions.

You know, that's a good word.

So instead of just like, we'll just define as emotional reaction right when we're thinking of emotional reactions, it wouldn't necessarily be happiness.

They're more kind of stress-related negative emotions.

But so you know, one thing that I can think of is it's called Kiri and Lou is a is a cartoon.

They have some episodes on YouTube, and there's one where it's called the common.

Her voice.

It's so brilliant.

I love watching this little video.

It really has helped me help other students as well as even myself, to manage my inner voice because I think that when we get triggered and we're having this emotional response we tend to have a very negative invoice or a panic in her voice.

And if we can maintain a commoner voice that will help us to come to a solution a lot faster.

So I encourage everybody to check out that video on YouTube, and we'll put a Lincoln in our show notes.

That is a really cool little hack that I'd like to work with my students, but also on the human podcast he talks about.

A way to calm the gondola for the day is as soon as you get up, you go outside, you expose yourself to light, and he calls it forward and relation.

Or you just kind of walk forward and let the sunlight be kind of exposed yourself to the sunlight of the day and you take perhaps a short walk around your garden for about 10 minutes.

Yeah, and that in itself actually comes the for the rest of the day.

And I tested that out this winter, and I really felt the difference.

I felt less, you know, I felt like I just wasn't as reactive.

So, for example, yesterday I got up and a little bit of a panic because I had to get up really early if I had been smart.

Well, that's a little judgmental, isn't it?

If I could do it differently the next time, that's a little bit gentler.

I would go out and do my forward emulation, and that might have helped me throughout the day, knowing that I really needed a lot of cognitive flexibility.

I needed to be calm throughout the day because this is going to be a day of not knowing.

And I needed to be okay with that.

Yes, going back to the ceiling example when I was in the howling C and the crashing waves and being tossed backwards and forwards and making very slow progress because we had a small sail up.

I remember we decided to go to the beach lovely sandy beach and beach on the beach and get the child and the mum off the boat, and they could walk along the coast back to home, and we would sail back.

That all sounds really good, except when you've got huge waves in the sea.

You've also got huge breakers breaking on your lovely sandy beach, and so that last 20 ft we were like, oh, gosh, what's the protocol for landing a four millimeters thick dinghy made of four millimeters thick, Apply on a beach with pounding surf waves?

And I remember in that moment there's this the sort of thing going we've got to decide.

Now we've got to decide.

Now we've got to happen now.

It's going to happen now, and I intentionally said absolutely not.

I'm just going to stay here.

I'm going to go.

I'm going to hold my position.

I'm going to think about this time I think about this.

I'm going to think about this.

I even drop the anchor for a while and dragged along and bought myself time.

I thought about it, and everybody on the boat was kind of like Should we do this?

Shouldn't we do this?

And people are saying maybe we should carry on and different voices in the boat and that the C had its own voice.

It was shouting at us and howling, and then that voice inside of me was, just make lots of good little decisions.

What's the next good little decision to make?

And I go right?

The best decision I can make right now is just to slow down and give us time to consider all the options.

And we did that.

And people like what's happening now.

What's happening now There's someone now standing on the beach waiting for us to come in and the father and I'm like, no, keep making lots of small decisions.

And then, in the end, it was kind of like there's a 20% 30% chance we could be flipped by a wave here and crushed and a 70% chance we could make it.

So for really skillful, we might increase the chance to 18 or 19, but we're not done it very many times before.

So what's the sensible thing to do?

The sensible thing to do is to go for what is 100% realistically possible, or ninety-nine, and that is to sail back.

Even though it's going to take two hours.

There's the child is probably going to feel more seasick, but we'll get there and will be completely safe, and there'll be no risk.

Okay, that's what we're going to do, and everyone's like, Yeah, fair enough.

That's what we're going to do find.

Call off the data on the beach and we'll just grind our way back to the harbor.

And so again, that was a combination of all the voices round about you, that anxiety to rush.

And I think often, you know, this fighter flight is the anxiety to rush.

And so if you can just slow it down and just go No, I'm not going to rush this.

I'm going to slow this down.

I'm going to calm down.

And even though everything is shouting and screaming and how long round about me, I'm going to make a small, good decision.

I'm going to make another small, good decision.

I'm going to make another small, good decision and it ends up being a small, bad decision.

It's small enough for me to reverse.

When I got to the beach, I could have made it, just blasted it straight onto the beach and did it.

That would have been a big, bad decision.

But I made a small decision, and it was a bad decision to head towards the beach.

But it was small enough for me to reverse and turn it into a good decision.

I think for me, that's the key.

Personally, when I'm sailing or doing life, it's just make small, good decisions so that you will eventually make a bad decision.

But it's small enough for you to turn into a good one on reflection.

That's lovely.

I love that.

And, yeah, give yourself time to process.

Yes, it is really, really important, because so many times when the middle is triggered, we just have this kind of outburst, right?

We're not even in control.

And so even if in a moment we can say, wow, I'm out of control, it's a matter of saying Okay, maybe I need to remove myself from this situation.

Or maybe we need to talk about this later.

Yeah, because you're reacting rather than responding, and that's essentially what it all comes down to.

Are you reacting or are you responding?

And in the middle, a high stress, anxiety, high emotion situation.

You're reacting, and so you need to pause and respond and choose your response.

And I remember when I was doing martial arts, I did karate, and what you realize is those are high stress situations, like you're in a fight and you're reacting and you're responding, and so sometimes you can train yourself to react well, and that's when you've got a highly skilled people, whether military medical nurses, whatever they are often reacting.

But they've trained their reaction to be an automatic reaction that is helpful one.

And sometimes we are just doing an automatic reaction that is more of an instinctive, uh, evolutionary reaction.

Maybe animal, our animal nature reaction, which isn't necessarily the appropriate one.

And so you can actually train your reaction to be a really great reaction.

Firefighters’ etcetera.

They're always training that their reaction.

They're unconscious.

Reaction becomes actually an intentional response, but it's automatic, so you can do it.

But it takes a lot of intentional effort to make your reactions in the high stress situation akin to a good response.

And that is automatic.

And that's teaching executive functioning skills.

That's really teaching inhibitory really a combination of all of them because inhibitory control your emotional response, cognitive flexibility so that you're flexible enough to make a different choice.

And then even the working memory, which is taking in all this information and making the right choices.

Using calm in her voice instead of an anxious in her voice, using visualization to help you get through things where you can instead of visualizing the disaster of what could happen visualizing the success of What Could Happen So it’s a role play as well.


Pray and practice.

You know, it's like putting exposing yourself.

I mean, this is a bleakly relates to cold water exposure, for example.

Okay, bear with me.

Like people who experience cold water exposure, they're intentionally putting themselves in a high stress situation going into cold water.

And he had a really good podcast on cold water exposure.

And he said that the difference between voluntarily exposing yourself to water and involuntarily exposing yourself to called is that when you voluntarily do it also releases dopamine.

And so what happens is your training yourself to deal with adverse situations in manageable environments over and over again.

So in an adverse situation that you may be trained for, but you've trained yourself for adversity - and that's what I find fascinating.

I mean, I was watching the ice man.

What's his name them off if I was listening to who puts forward cold water exposure and breathing exercises with it, and I was asked, he pledges himself in ice water goes into ice conditions climbed Everest without a T shirt in the ice cold, etcetera.

And they ask, so do you like the cold?

And he says, no, I don't like the cold.

But he intentionally exposes himself too cold because he says, my grief is more painful than the cold.

And his way of dealing with grief of losing his wife was to expose himself to call.

So he dealt with adversity and a manageable way.

And so gradually he started to train himself to deal with the emotional adversity he had experienced in his life.

So and I think that's fascinating.

People do this.

They intentionally expose themselves to something that is averse to themselves and trained themselves to deal with it and overcome it and exercise that muscle.

I wish I was a bit more like that, to be quite honest, but I need to be more.

I think, yeah, that that that was a beautiful, beautiful analogy.

And I think there's also a lot of books and audio books that can expand our outlook like I'm a big fan of the new Earth, which is really a whole new perspective on how to how to live your life and how to create this kind of new earth mentality, which is, which is really nice.

But I think, yeah, seeking solutions instead of seeking things that you already know, seeking some things that are a little bit out of the norm so that you can grow otherwise we stay kind of stagnant.

Well, I think for me cognitive flexibility is all about encountering reality and adjusting our perspective to reality because we all have our own way of looking at the world, our own map of the world, and our map doesn't always describe the territory accurately.

It's like the old maps of days and see people who do C B T therapy and so on.

My wife does it, you know.

She's always saying to me, the map isn't the territory your way of looking at.

The situation isn't how it actually is.

In reality, it might be close, or it might be very far from way.

And our goal is to be cognitively flexible enough to adjust our map to match the territory, because if you think there's a big black hole or a cliff edge over here and it's not over there, but it's over there and you think it's solid ground and you walk that way and you fall over and you hurt yourself and your like, what's going wrong?

Why does this always happen to me?

It's because you've not adapted to your map to reality.

An interesting example of this is dealing with people with your university because often with dyslexia or a D.


D I've got more experience of is you can have false expectations on yourself, like I should be able to do this.

But I can't do this.

I should be able to just go and organized my time, just like my wife does.

But I can't.

So there's something wrong with me.

You know, the way your brain works is different than hers.

So you need to adjust your map of the reality of your brain and your expectations and work with it.

Not dumb it down, but I just It's I think it's sometimes like finding a shoe that fits your foot.

So we take great pains to put the right size of shoe onto our feet for our Children and ourselves because we know what the consequence of having an ill-fitting shoe.

Maybe we slip and we fall over.

If it's too big or if it's too tight, we get cuts and blisters, and it disables us because it's just so painful.

But do we do the same thing for our minds?


Often, we think, oh, well, you know, one size fits all.

No, it does not.

And so we need to adjust and have tools that fit our minds, just like we have shoes that fit our feet.

What's the shape of our mind?

So what's the shape of the tools you use for your mind?

And we've been talking about that a lot.

But that again is an example of cognitive flexibility where you just say right, I actually want to understand how my personal mind is shaped.

What is the shape of my mind?

How does my mind work and let me work with it, not the way it should work, like my wife or someone else who's very linear and systematic and ordered and so on.

Maybe I organized things in a different way.

I can still be organized.

I can still show up on time.

I can still focus on things, and I can still contribute highly effectively.

But often I need tools that match my mind.

And I think that realization is an aspect of cognitive flexibility.

Yeah, I think that I think that's beautiful.

And I think that it makes me think of parents that will say to their kids, you have to take notes you have to take notes because that's what helped me in college, or you have to do it this way.

And I think we all tend to be a little cognitively in flexible in the sense that we assume that other people’s way of being in their reality is similar to ours and that, you know, if it helps me, though, it will surely help you and in a way, I think that energy is coming from a place of compassion where you're trying to help somebody.

However, it's really important to understand that we are all incredibly different and we process incredibly differently is I often say that you know, I walked down the streets of New York City, and I'm just amazed it, how every face is different and how we just have a limited number of features.

How could that be so many varieties.

It's amazing to me.

And then I think, wow, the brain is so much more complex but because we can't see it Yeah, I assume that it's the same.

Yes, absolutely.

We assume all our feet of the same size they're not.

You know, I was really interesting story about this is one of the students of bullets coaches.

I run one of the two Cos I run one Cos for Children and adults to do it.

Dyslexia and the Children's one bullet academy.

One of the coaches had a child, and they were teaching this technique of remembering a mind map of a story that they had written so they could do it in class and go into the test and remember in class and redraw that outline.

And the technique we use is to use doodles okay to remember the different branches and so on because they're so memorable.

Well, we were in this coach was having difficulty with the student saying, like, the student just will not do the doodles.

They just want to write words, and that's all they do and the branches and the structure and so on.

I said, Okay, that's interesting.

Could you describe what happens?

And she says, well, what we do We asked them to redraw the map from memory.


And what the child was doing was she created a chance of all the words.

And so she would go.

She would chance this word should chat.

That word chanted, chanted, chanted, chanted, chanted, chanted, chanted, chanted until she memorizes this chance.

She just spontaneously created the chance.

And she would write the words out from the chance from her chance into the map.

So it's like a wrap.

It was, Yeah, it was like a wrap in her head.

And for her it was the words and the rhythm and getting that down.

That's what helped to remember.

And I said, look, I asked her to do just one experiment where she converts all into noodles and tries to remember it with the details.

So she did it with the doodles.

I said, no, it's really not working, and we said, Well, that's absolutely fine.

Your way of working.

You've discovered your way of working, and it was writing these words down in an order in a chance, and so that was her way of memorizing things, and so we were kind of like We're not going to impose our way of working well exposed to it, but we won't impose it on you.

We want you to discover the way your brain is shaped and works, and that's how she found it.

It's quite extreme.

It's not a typical for students to be able to spontaneously create a verbal chant or rap and memorized things like that.

Unfortunately, what was interesting was that so the takeaway on all of that was that she discovered her way of working, and it wasn't our normal way of working with students.

But we have two intentionally hold ourselves back and not say this is the way it should be done.

But this is the way it could be done.

Let's find the way your work, and that's the journey.

Your own often is that we call them coaches, not teachers are tutors because it's this journey of discovering what the child needs, and it's not always obvious.


That was the takeaway from me on that one is you don't always know what that person's brain's ideal way of working is, and often they do.

If you give them time to explore it.

It's how they process.


So it's interesting.

I actually have an inventory for that's called the Eclectic Learning Profile when I look at 12 different ways of processing, and what I would say is that she has a rhythmic, melodic, and auditory.

So she's using her, probably here to best ways of processing a rhythmic melodic, an auditory and perhaps even verbal.

And she's combining those three.

Yeah, forgive herself.

Kind of almost a superpower of processing.


It's so true, and we'll put that link in the show notes.

That's an interesting little screen er that you do there.


So, Erica, we started off this podcast where we were planning it, thinking that we were going to talk about things like for cognitive flexibility.

You need to read books and audiobooks and maybe do some journaling and writing and drawing and finding your gurus and advisors and going outside of yourself and nurturing, you know, flexibility and natural environments like sailing or goal golf or walking or and being in the moment and different technologies, you know, like using our phones and co-working spaces.

You know, mind mapping drawing diagrams, going to meet up all these different kinds of ways of flexibly arranging information, encountering this world, getting feedback and so on.

And there's a lot of those kind of possibilities.

And that's where we were going to go with all of this.

But it's fascinating that we ended up actually going to the root of it, which is the media, and blocking it with anxiety and stress.

Yeah, and then coming up with tools on how we can really address that which takes us right back to executive functioning, you know, how do we manage our emotions and how do we use working memory?

How can we be conscious, right?

How can consciously use the executive functioning tools that we have?

How can we consciously use working memory and our inner voice in our individuals?

How can we use inhibitory control, our meta-cognition right and our emotional regulation?

And then how can we use that cognitive flexibility so that we can be creative, and we can be out of the box, and we can find new solutions and we can accept the world around us and navigate through it with more grace?

Yes, emotion essentially adjust our way of looking at things to reality.

You've got it in terms of product development, like you create a product, you think the world is going to use it in a certain way.

You give it to the world.

They don't use it in that way.

They use in a different way.

I mean, I just had the example today, my wife I'm creating an app at the moment that I'm sharing with a few friends and family in a better test to use.

And it's basically a voice to text app and you talk out your thoughts to it and it's it takes out and it creates a log of your day and ideas and thoughts and so on.

My wife used in a completely different way.

I dictate all my thoughts and I've got I really want to do this project.

I want to do that, and I talk about it and verbally process it.

And I've got a huge, big paragraph after paragraph after paragraph in my notes.

She is like one little note.

Take the pet to the vet, go get the shopping finished, and she's got this nice, neat little list of all these different voices to text notes.

She does just rapidly with it with the app, which is fantastic.

But the point I'm making is that I didn't know how other people would use it.

So you've got to encounter the world and have that dialogue between yourself and the world, backwards and forwards as a conversation.

Dialogue is dia logos. Logos in the word means truth, and dialogue is coming to the truth.

And so it's this dialogue with the world that we need to have with cognitive flexibility, and I think final thoughts on that.

We've really talked about the extreme experience that you had with the extreme stress and its effect on the cognitive flexibility.

But I think there are a whole range of things like we were going to talk about a bit more that are opportunities to reflect on things like having a journal, writing things out with paper and pan diagram in things, drawing things out and just sort of often the theme of using a pen and paper or pen and the tablet or iPad, you know, just sort of writing things out on posted notes or on a journal or your externally processing something and reflecting and putting something outside of yourself so you can step back and look at it or putting some contribution.

You've made a vlog or a tweet or something that you put outside of yourself and get some feedback on it.

And so there's this process of getting a response from reality.

And I think just tag on to that idea is for us to be more conscious about our communication the way that we communicate with other people.

And I think such a valuable tool is reading Marshall Rosenberg nonviolent communication because he really teaches you how to communicate in a cognitively flexible way.

Yeah, it's a great book, and it is actually really quite interesting about how there's some interesting chapters in there about how you negotiate with partners about what you want done in life or in the house or whatever.

How do you do that?

And again, that's a lot about cognitive flexibility.

Do you use force to get that done force of the argument or manipulation or whatever to get it done?

Or these are the rules, and that's just the way it's got to happen.

Or do you have a dialogue and understand and find your way?

Communal way to meet each other's needs?

Well, that was a really good talk.

Thank you very much for that.

Erica, help me.

Yeah, that really helped me, too.

It's wonderful to have these conversations with various, and I look forward to next week.

I'm just a shout out to some of the listeners.

It's really great that some of you are getting in touch with us and saying, hey, look.

And you coach me or mentor me and I've had some people come and talk about dyslexia.

I want some training in mind mapping or training for me.

And I know people are doing that with you as well.

We really appreciate that.

Thank you for doing that.

And we're still open to it.

So if you want to get in touch with us, get in touch with us, and we can maybe help you want to one or direct you to different resources that are out there on this executive functioning journey, brain training journey that we're on.


Well, thanks.

Uh, next time next week.


Thank you for joining our conversation here at the personal brain Trainers Podcast.

This is Dr.  Erica Warren, and this is Darius Namdaran.

You can check out the show notes for links to resources mentioned the podcast, and please leave a review and shares on social media.

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