The discussion concerning right and left brain activity is an interesting one. Any research done on the subject will divide opinion on the effectiveness of any influence it may have. I, personally believe firmly that it needs to be looked at closely in any therapy process. Finding balance between the analytical and the emotional is an essential process. Many people can logically get their minds around many concepts but dealing with the emotions that come from that process is a different matter. We mostly spend our time applying left brain solutions to right brain issues.
According to the website VeryWell Mind, left and right brain activities can be described as follows:
According to the left-brain, right-brain dominance theory, the right side of the brain is best at expressive and creative tasks. Some of the abilities popularly associated with the right side of the brain include: recognizing faces, expressing emotions, creating music, reading and processing emotion, appreciating art and color, use of imagination, being intuitive and creative.
The left-side of the brain is considered to be adept at tasks that involve logic, language, and analytical thinking. The left-brain is described as being better at processing, realism,numbers and reasoning.
Aside from the obvious factors above, I believe there are also deeper issues at play that define our inability to process our emotions and stop us moving forward. We often feel stuck and unable to decide on our next step. I am of the opinion that the thinking parts that keep us stuck reside in the left analytical brain. Here is where the “manager” parts run the rule over how we think about ourselves. The shame voice and the critic stop us from thinking clearly. In the course of a day, many of us may think, for example: “a part of me wants to do this and yet, at the same time, another part of me wants just the opposite”. Sometimes, this is felt as an inner conflict or “stuckness”. Usually, we simply notice this conflict and override one of the arguments. In a healthy personality, there is a fluid shifting from one part to another depending on what approach is needed, what is appropriate, or what is necessary under the particular circumstances.
Often, some of us feel stuck. We feel like we have run out of solutions. We don’t know how to move forward. In other words, our usual approach doesn’t work anymore. We may have difficulties with a partner, or we may feel as if something is “missing” in our life, or we may feel depressed. Most of us have, over time, become dominated by a few strong parts that “run the show” pretty successfully. If we are asked to describe our personality, we would list these parts as our qualities. But sometimes, they hit the wall– they become tired. These few parts have served us well with their approaches, such as pleasing others or being efficient and organized. As hard as we try to solve some life problem or crisis, the approach they force us to take stops working. This is the work of the left brain and it lacks balance. You cannot generally apply a left brain solution to a right brain problem.
The key is to build resilience in the right brain by promoting right brain activity. For me, right brain is all about relationships with others and Self. It is about finding empathy and compassion for others and Self and taking care of Self to bring a sense of counterbalance to the logical. One of the most important relationships a right brain can regulate is with the parts that affect the left brain. This means understanding, comforting and retiring the manager parts with empathy and compassion, allowing them to stop their never-ending quest to protect against childhood fears.
To adopt right brain thinking must become a conscious habit and practice is essential. We can do this in various ways. We have to realise that the best antidote to the negative tyranny of the manager parrots is very much found in the right brain. Empathy, compassion, authentic and healthy pride, self-acceptance where flaws are embraced and seen as part of a healthy us instead of being hidden.
Mindfulness: Mindfulness helps us to focus and accept ourselves for what we are instead of what we think we should be. It helps us to identity, tolerate and reduce the impact of painful thoughts and sensations. It allows us to gain mastery over us thoughts and feelings and allows us to stay in the present moment. It is a bridge between the right and left hemispheres of our brain. The best way to achieve this is through mindful breathing. Some people may well have initial difficulty with this but may well benefit from shorter mindful exercises. Information about mindfulness is freely available on the internet.
Connection: We often take relationships for granted or we fear them. This mirrors the broken connection we had with caregivers as children. Forming and developing positive relationships that are reciprocal are an essential part of dealing with shame and codependency especially.
Needs and boundaries: We are often unaware of our needs and as such find setting boundaries difficult. Expressing our needs and maintaining our psychological space around these needs is self-compassion. Many say that you can identify your needs by treating yourself, the way you treat other people you love and respect.
Self-compassion: There are three elements to self-compassion. Common humanity states that being human also means that we are flawed and vulnerable and that no-one is alone in that feeling. When we can accept this, we can move towards self-kindness. Mindfulness consolidates this in a non-judgmental way and allows us to observe feelings and thoughts as they are and not trying to suppress them.
Non-verbal creativity: Many people find painting, drawing and sculpting as a way of expressing how they feel in a non-verbal way. Many right brained creative therapies will encourage this as a means of expression.