Right Brain Left Brain

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Most of us have heard the “left brain verses right brain” argument enough times to make both sides of our brain hurt. Creative people are said to use their right brain, while more analytical people are said to use their left side. While this is based on neurology, the assumption that one side is “better” than another is not.

In college, I minored in psychology which means that a large portion of each semester was geared toward the study of the human body, and, more specifically, the brain. So I know the science behind the argument that right-brained people are more creative than left-brained people. But I find this knowledge to have severely crippled society and led people to believe that there is only one type of creativity.

In addition to my psych minor, I majored in Creative Advertising, which included a course called Introduction to Creativity. In this class we studied the theories of creativity – yes, it’s a science. And one of the most beneficial nuggets that I learned was the concept of multiple intelligences. Intelligence here is described as having a well-developed aptitude for something. In short, it means that everyone can be innovative, we just use our creativity in different ways.

What are the Multiple Intelligences?

Musical – rhythmic and harmonic
Visual – spatial
Verbal – linguistic
Logical – mathematical
Bodily – kinesthetic
Interpersonal – interaction with others
Intrapersonal – self-reflective
Naturalistic – relating with natural surroundings
Existential – spirituality

Basically, I value the idea of right/left brain, because it’s based on science and how our brain actually functions. But, I refuse to let it define whether or not you can be creative, because our creativity is what makes us uniquely human.

So, what are your multiple intelligences?

Anxiety & Other Things

Everyday

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Most people know that I struggled with an anxiety disorder for the majority of my life. Thankfully, and through Christ alone, I have overcome that horrible 10-year period. The funny thing is that as I leave that part of me in the past, many of my friends and loved ones are experiencing it in the present. Through my struggles, I came across a little nugget of truth that has helped me tremendously. I guess this post is my way of passing that truth on to someone else who needs it.

The first two years of being a Resident Assistant at my university (Southern Methodist University) I held a specialized position entitled the “Academic Resident Assistant,” which is a fancy way of saying that I was the nerdy one. Essentially, I had an extra day of training on academic resources and study skills, and I had to host academic programs throughout the year. Fun stuff, right? I got an extra stipend every semester so it was totally worth it.

One year during training, we were learning about test anxiety and ways to combat it. One suggestion was to write an inspirational mantra or calming statement on a note card and keep it in your pocket on test day. The idea was to take it out right before an exam to help you mentally prepare. The Trainer said that this method worked well for several of her past students, but it changed the life of one in particular – her son. Now a lawyer, her son still keeps that note card in his pocket and reads it right before he goes into court for every trial. This is what it said:

It can’t eat me.

Go ahead and laugh. That was my first reaction. It can’t eat me? It’s such a simple phrase, almost idiotically so. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the truth behind its simplicity. After eliminating situations involving bears or other large carnivorous animals (in which anxiety becomes legitimate fear), no matter what you are facing, no matter how anxious you feel, no matter how much you want to throw up or run away or cry till your eyes hurt or hide in the back of your closet, whatever you are facing cannot and will not eat you. And, in a weird way, that notion is comforting.

I took that nugget to heart and I refer to it almost every day. And slowly, but surely, I’ve come to believe it. And you can, too.

“I can [endure] all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

The Hedgehog’s Dilemma

Everyday, Ponderings

I’ve recently discovered my new favorite animal: the hedgehog. I had no clue why I was so drawn to these creatures, so, in classic Haley manner, I decided to do some intense research (via the Wikipedia).

Hedgehogs are adorable little animals that look a lot like miniature porcupines – cute, adorable little porcupines. Just search for hedgehogs on YouTube and you’ll understand their cuteness – especially the one swimming in a bathtub.

They are pretty neat creatures. They are nocturnal and are almost complete insectivores (which means they eat a lot of bugs). They also have sharp quills on their backs that make them look more intimidating than they really are. The spines aren’t poisonous, just sharp and prickly. They have soft underbellies though (which you can see in the hedgehog bathtub video). When threatened or frightened, they roll up into tight balls, causing their spines to point outwards. Sadly, some species are endangered. And that bewilders me, because who really wants to destroy these things?

Despite their inherent cuteness, hedgehogs have a slight problem. They cannot touch each other, even when necessary. When it gets really cold, a group of hedgehogs will try to group together to share each other’s warmth, but, their sharp, spiny backs prevent them from ever touching. And so, they must remain apart.

This concept really disturbed me. And then, I realized why I have a strange fascination with the hedgehog…

I am one.

Schopenhauer and Freud used the hedgehog’s inability to touch to create a social theory called the Hedgehog’s Dilemma. They argued that human intimacy cannot occur without substantial mutual harm. They also use it to explain introversion and isolationism. I use it to explain my fear of relationships.

Since moving away and starting my own life, I’ve discovered a few things about myself. 1.) I can put on an amazingly good show of being confident in myself even though I’m often not, and, 2.) I’m really good at finding everything there is to know about someone without letting them know a single thing about me. In other words, I put up a lot of quills. And no matter how much I want to be close to someone, my quills get in the way. I think I do this because, despite my hard exterior, I have a really soft underbelly and I don’t want to get hurt. That’s why, when threatened, you’ll often find me in a tight, little ball, keeping others out.

And that is what I call, the Haley Dilemma.

And I’m trying to work on that.