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RIGHT OR LEFT BRAIN?

Posted Jan 13 2010 9:40am

Last night my daughter practiced her oral science fair report. (I was audience and timekeeper.)Her project this year looked at right versus left brain dominance in individuals. She wondered if there was a difference between boys and girls as related to right and left brain dominance.

What I found most interesting during this year as I read her literature review, took the written tests myself, looked at my family’s results, and listened to her report was the differences between how right and left brain individuals approach situations. Right brain individuals tend to see the bigger picture. They often have a larger and, perhaps, more creative approach to a challenge. Left brain individuals work well in organizing and completing the details. Practically speaking most challenges would benefit from having both types of individuals involved with the solution. Having right brain individuals involved could yield brainstorming to devise unique solutions; but then left brain individuals can help ensure that all details are ironed out to complete the desired solution.

Yet, there might be challenges in families if most individuals (i.e. parents) function from a left brain mindset and the child functions from a right brain point of view. Is it possible that some parents wouldn’t understand why their child organized using piles instead of putting things away? On the other hand, couldn’t there be an issue if the child needs to know all the planned details in order to feel comfortable and has to deal with right brain parents who say, “Don’t worry about it. It’ll work out.” Sense some of the potential challenge?

When most of my family (and particularly my parents) tested left brain and I was very right brain, I could suddenly understand some of the differences in how we approached tasks. It became clearer why we had diverged in our approaches to certain situations. But with that awareness, also came a lesson. I discovered how to maximize these differences. My mother and I recently took a trip together to Los Angeles. We had a great time. Much of the success came because I let her handle the details. She had maps printed out, directions to museums and information about the museums’ schedules. In my right brain approach, I helped considered what would be fun to do; she made it happen.

Being aware of your strengths and limitations can help you design solutions and help you succeed. It will also help you to identify aspects of the challenge where you may need more assistance. In our Clinic, I’ve worked with our administrative team to have most of our forms put on a shared website. This makes it easy for everyone, but it helps me in particular because I don’t have to organize all my papers. I can just click on a form and it’s right there.  Helps this right brain person stay organized!

Why do I bring this up?  You many need to bring the awareness of your approach to challenges as you work to plan your recovery.

So…

·         Consider how you approach situations in your family. Do your views or ways of considering issues differ from other family members’ approaches? Journal about a recent family event, decision, etc. Did it go smoothly? Were there areas of disagreement or strife? Did any of it seem related to how people approached the situation? Did any arguments take place because you and others approached the situation differently or had different expectations from the day? Any of these differences—whether we operate right brain vs. left; whether we expect recovery to go smoothly or accept that it will have occasional bumps; whether we like everything planned out or prefer some things to be spontaneous, and so on…all of this will affect approaches and family interactions.

·         Consider looking up a right vs. left hemisphere test on the Internet. You and your significant others could answer the questions and see if there are differences between the way you view and approach situations. At a recent conference that I went to, part of discussions included our ideal work environment. The aspects that individuals rated most important were often determined by their personality type, their approach to life, and their right or left brain dominance.

·         Knowing how you approach situations, can you use your strengths to maximize your recovery? Can you look at the “Big Picture” and find areas of triggers? Can you work on details in your plan to ensure that all the tools you need for your recovery are being put in place. You may need a team to help with this, but you can also journal to try to understand any areas where you may need more assistance. If there is a certain time of the day that you struggle, can you brainstorm or work with your team to develop additional tools to help? If you’re bogged down in the details, is there someone that you can brainstorm with to look at the big picture of your recovery? Someone that can help make certain you are including tools to help with all areas--self-care, work and leisure.

·         If there was a conversation or a situation that felt rocky with your family or significant other, would they be willing to journal their view of what happened? Can you compare views to see if maybe you’re approaching situations differently? Maybe you’ll discover that certain situations affect you differently? One may be anxious if things are not planned out completely. The other person might feel hemmed in with too much planning. Won’t that understanding help when you develop future plans?

 

Happy journaling and go Write On!

 

Martha Peaslee Levine, M.D.

               

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