Have you heard the theories about whether individuals are predominantly left-brained or right-brained people in terms of the way they think? I decided to look into this idea recently, because I'd started to think that I was neither one nor the other and wondered if this was unusual.
I was equally pleased and disappointed to discover that it would appear the idea of being a left-brained or right-brained person is a myth. I was pleased because the idea didn’t appeal to me and disappointed because it turns out I’m not unusual after all. ;-)
It's well known that each side of our brain operates the opposite side of our body (messages from the right side control movement on the left etc). However, a popular idea too is that the left side of our brain deals with more analytical and methodical approaches while the right side is more creative. If you’d asked me years ago, I would have assumed that I was a “left-brained” person, but over recent years I’ve been pursuing more creative endeavours, so does this mean that my right side suddenly cranked into action?
Having done a bit of reading around the subject,* it would appear that the idea had a fairly sensible origin when research into brain injuries discovered the opposite side control function, that damage to one side of the brain could, for example, impair movement on the other side of the body.
However, it then appears that the idea was developed in popular (non-scientific) terms and taken to the extreme, giving rise to the generalisation that some people are either left-brained (logical, analytical, organised, practical) and others are right-brained (creative, artistic).
That both sides work together, and that people use both sides of their brain most of the time, seems now the prevailing and, to me, more readily understandable idea.
On the surface this sounds only of passing interest, but I started to wonder about what impact, if any, my assumption that I was more suited to “left-brained” type thinking has had on the way I've operated throughout my life.
Over my adult life until recently, the main requirement from me in a work setting was analytical thinking, the ability to follow legislation, policies and processes, and the necessity to be logical, objective and methodical in my approach to situations. I was able to do this and did so to the exclusion of almost anything else for 10+ years. It’s no wonder, then, that I thought I was left-brained.
However, an extension of this is that I thought I mustn’t be capable of being creative (even though I knew I wanted to write) and that I should therefore stick to what I knew and not look beyond the parameters of my “proper” job.
It wasn't until my children were small, and I worked part-time, that I seriously considered giving writing “a go”. I did feel stifled and it wasn’t until I started to pursue creative activities (mainly writing) that this eased.
This led to my time spent on the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme, the writing of four books, my publication of Tapestry and the launch of Emerald and Lime, so something was going on in me noggin that allowed me to do this. ;-)
But, on a serious note, this shows how easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking, “I can’t do that because…” doesn’t it? I assumed I just “wasn’t the creative type” because I’d had no real experience of being so and for ages I ignored the recurring urge to try.
Have you ever thought:
I’m too old to…
I’m too disorganised to…
I’m too <insert your own example here> to…
Here's a thought:
What if you’re not?
I’d love to hear what you think, so pop over to @elleturnerwriter on Instagram and let me know!
As you'll know if you're a regular reader of my blog, I'm a big fan of journaling. If you’d like to start your own journaling practice, but aren’t sure where you want to begin, click below for a free list of five options to fill a blank page and see where they take you!