It´s hard to see the label from inside the bottle. The way you normally percive and navigate in the world is something most of us take for granted – thus making it hard to see for ourselves our over-all tendencies. Today many people are aware of the difference between the functioning of our left brain vs our right brain – but at the end of the day it´s hard to fully understand it without experiencing the difference first hand. In order to know for yourself you have to start playing and observing. If you are excellent at creating a house-hold budget and make a career-plan to raise your salary – try dancing, singing and look upon your life using archetypes through Jungian analysis, The Enneagram, Tarot-cards and Horoscope (the real one – not the tabloid-verion). If you are excellent at beeing creative and enjoy the here and know of music, good food and fun – try reading about Getting Things Done (GTD), make a plan for how to improve your income and material and spiritual surroundings over the course of the next 12 months.
Projections – necessary, but a bit of a drag aswell
The biggest hinderence for people to do this is a little psychological mechanism called projections. In short, it means that you fear behaviour, people, situations and even words or signs/symbols that reminds your sub-concious of the least developed parts of your self. You can play with this by wearing Yoga-pants and use the phrase “I feel that…” and quote spiritual teachers a lot in a typical environment with lots of young left-brained people or wear a strict suit and use the phrase “I think that…” or quote a lot of statistical figures a lot in an environment with lots of young right-brained people. Of course you are aware of this – but it is so much more fun and helpful to actually DO it. Play with it and you will discover new sides of your self and others.
But life isn´t all about fun and games – it´s also about ideas and technical words. So…
The brain as computer
The left brain is sequential. That means taht it takes in perceptions of the world one at a time – letters in a word for instance. It´s is also sequenential in that it projects into the future making it posible to set up goals and keep on track when acchieving them. Following THE road. The left brain is analytical in that it divides reality into smaller pieces and follows one logical path in figuring it out.
The right brain is parallell. That means that it takes in lots of perceptions of the world at the same time – the meaning of a whole word or a sentence for instance. The paralell mode of working makes it possible for the brain to “jump to conclusions” and decide based on a feeling for the big picture. The right brain is synthetical in that it allows a merging of lots of pieces of information and allows subjectivity when it comes to decision making.
How adaptable are you, little friend?
It´s all about adaption, really. If you only use one side (or rather, one aspect of one side, but thats the advanced course) regardless of the situation you will not function in our complex and competitive society. The most adaptable wins. Cybernetics is actually spot on. The unit (person or organisation) that has the most possible responses to surroundings will be the dominant (kick ass).
However, when I speak of personality types (which I must admit I do quite a lot) it is only on a description on the horizontal plane. The vertical plane is probably more often influencing our ability to adapt to reality – so let´s have a few words about that.
Hello brain – I love you!
The human brain can be divided into three main parts; the primal brain is the oldest in evolutionary terms and controls our level of wakefulness, hunger, sexual drive and breathing amongst others. If something is the matter here it will affect our whole beeing no matter what the circumstances. The second part is our “emotional brain” where emotions and memories are stored. Any eperience that caused good or bad emotions raise in you are stored at this level and every new experience is most often filtered through this area of the brain when processed. I personally believe that we can learn to side-step this part when necessary in order to break old behavioural patterns. If we give too much attention to this often unconcious map of old experiences we might continue non-effective patterns as well as effective patterns – and above all – be very reluctant to actually try out new life strategies and experiences. Which of course makes us stop growing. Which isn´t very fun or helpful if we have aspirations in life.
Neo cortex – the cause of most of our problems and the solution to them
The third part is what determines our personality type – the thin layer of grey matter called neo-cortex that covers the outermost part of our brain and is the most recent part from an evolutionay view point. The neo-cortex takes care of the CONCIOUS processing of information (stimuli) from the inside and the outside of our body. It can be likened with a tool box from which we can choose what tools to use for a certain task in a certain situation. If we don´t know what parts of our neo cortex we usually use and what parts we haven´t gained experience in using we cannot use this wonderful toolbox of ours conciously, We just carry on in the same wheel-tracks wondering why we keep on falling in the same pits over and over again. But that goes for the other two parts aswell.
Start from were you happen to be – it doesn´t matter, really
It isn´t nearly enough to know your personality type to be able to lived effectively and happily – even though it is a great start. It is namely very easy to learn about your personality type; there are great tests to do and you can easily observe your neo cortex in work by analyzing personal texts you have written. For me that is a bit more complicated, but for others it might be the other way around. My neo cortex wasn´t built to perform the task of feeling emotions as easily as thinking out new solutions to complex abstract problems. My brains neurological pathways have evolved to prefer words and concepts over things and people when percieving the world and to look for future rather than immediate gains such as bodily pleasures and harmonius relations with people. That doesn´t mean that I have NO capabilities in my non-preferred functions of the neo cortex (thank God), but it DO mean that it cost´s me more energy to be in certain environments and perform certain task over others. Writing a blog post integrating a lot of theories about our psyche is an easier task for me than distinguishing all the different qualitites of food for instance. Noticing the texture, saltiness, sweetness, how it feels in the mouth, how it breaks when chewed on etc requires effective use of different parts of the brain than visualizing a new way of displaying media channels on-line.
Know thy self – so THAT`s why they keep yappin´about it?
In order to use your brain in the most effective way you need to get to know it first. Then start learning to give it what it needs (rest, nutritious food and variety mainly), learn to recognice psychological responses caused by slighter or bigger emotional traumas through out the course of your life and learn how to CHOOSE which emotionals responses to act upon. And finally to learn how to craft your work, relationsships and play to draw on your strongest talents in order to be able to grow into using your less prefered brain-functions from a safe and energetic position.
This is what spirituality is about and what psychology ought to be about – help people no-matter where they are in life – to put more life into each day and more days into their lifes.
I believe ignorance is the biggest hinderence for this to come true for more people. I also believe that Internet and the amazing research and therapeutic practice that is done all over the world today is eating large chunks of that ignorance for each days now. That is good.
Hugs and kisses!