Sunday, December 27, 2009

Please Ignore this Message

Our minds are wondrous instruments, and mine is quite amazing I must say! Over the years I have started to understand so much more about myself and how I function, but there is still so much more to learn and discover. My beautiful mind inspires me to figure out and understand more about why and what I think in each moment, and what external and internal experiences are influencing my thought processes.

If you read my article from the other day about feeling overwhelmed, you know that I discovered, that my feelings of being overwhelmed seem to appear after I haven't taken the best care of my physical body. When my body is trying to get the poisons out that I fed it by eating pizza or lasagna, or when my body is processing the extra amount of sugars or cheese I ate during my excessive celebrations of life, my brain responds by having less enthusiasm to tackle other projects at the same time.

Having been in this state of going in and out of physical detox during the last two weeks, I have had lots of opportunities to use myself as a study object and to wonder about the miraculously interesting thought processes I had and the actions I took (or not!). I have concluded that my intoxication creates the perfect environment to function from my right brain, which brings excitement and challenges!

A Chance to Observe
The other day I had dinner with Mark, Kat and Alexander (see Teflon's article "In A Word"). I felt like I was in the middle of a Broadway play where the two multiple-personality-identities (Iris Left Brain and Iris Right Brain) were trying to discuss life's pleasantries at the kitchen table with Kat and me as the audience. I finally had a chance to observe extreme examples of the two personalities that seem to be me. Two personalities, both with very different qualities and seated in a different belief systems with different worldviews, talking with one another at the same table.

OK, just for clarification, I do not believe I am more than one person. Still, I clearly act and respond differently in different moments. Over the past few days, I have been exploring the possibility that it has to do with which side of my brain I'm most using in that moment.

Iris Left Brain

Iris Left Brain is always active, always has a thousand ideas, is always looking for new things to do and explore, and is never bored. She adapts easily to new situations. Iris Left Brain loves a challenge to create new things. She figures things out quickly and can articulate her solutions clearly and concisely. For Iris Left Brain, everything is structured and clear. She easily makes sense of her world and is content with activities that she undertakes.

Iris Left Brain also gets depressed and uncomfortable when having to wait or being passive. Iris Left brain is independent-minded and stubborn, but with that comes stability and reliability.

Iris Right Brain
Iris Right Brain is creative and writes beautiful songs in minutes; she may then dismiss those songs as awful a few minutes later. Iris Right Brain can open her computer to look up something specific on the Internet and then spend hours browsing who knows what. She finds the journey more important and satisfying than getting things done quickly. This Iris goes with the flow, dislikes planning, is disorganized and gets overwhelmed with too many things on her plate.

Iris Right Brain wants to hear that she is loved and wants (needs?) to be supported. She is insecure, jealous and unpredictable. For her, the world just one big experience and difficult to explain. Not being able to find the right words, Iris Right Brain is often quiet.

Right and Left Collide

I sing and play djembe with No Room for Jello, a band that regularly performs here in the Berkshires. Playing drums and performing with a band is not something I had done before 2009, so I decided to jump in and do it. This was the perfect opportunity for Iris Left Brain who believes that practice is fun and makes you better. She is very satisfied with the results so far and loves the time she spends creating music.

The other night, some of Iris' No Room for Jello band mates performed with beautiful young singer who was simply amazing. The music was wonderful! Iris Right Brain, who believes that singing is a gift from god and not something that you simply develop, thought to herself, "Wow, this singer is really good. What I do is crap! My band mates are too nice to tell me that I am S**T. Who am I kidding? I should quit singing and do something else instead!"

Iris Right Brain felt ashamed for insanely thinking that she could reach for the moon. She just wanted to quit.

Left Brain/Right Brain Research

Over the past week, as I've processed this experience, I flipped back and forth from Iris Right Brain to Iris Left Brain (including all the opposed behaviors and feelings) depending on my blood sugar and other factors (yet to be determined). So I started looking up information on this left-/right-brain phenomenon.

If you find this interesting, I recommend that you read an article on It explains how each side of our brains processes stimuli differently and how you can tell which side is the dominant one. The link for the page is

Left and Right as Partners
Most of you know my love for attitudinal dialogues. In effect, dialogues are a way of letting your logical, structured left brain help your creative, unstructured right brain process emotions and feelings. The exercise is wonderful at clearing your mind and it really works for me... unless, that is, if I am so far into my right brain that I completely resist any help from my left. The feelings and emotions are so "big" that I don't want to let them go!

Mark and I were playing with hypotheses about why our right and left brains process emotions so differently.

One of them is that my right brain seems to process everything as it comes. If I feel something, then I associate it with whatever is happening in that moment. For example, the other night, I was feeling insecure and uncomfortable while hearing this wonderful music. My right brain puts two and two together and gets, "I feel like crap because I can't sing!" It then proceeds to make this bigger and bigger and bigger.

On the other hand, my left brain, being nicely structured, doesn't depend on everything occurring at once. I can feel insecure and uncomfortable while hearing this wonderful music and think, "Wow, look how having eaten all this terrible food over the past week is making me feel upset and jealous of this really great singer, rather than feeling inspired!"

For my right brain, it's all scrambled information; it feels big and overwhelming. For my left, it's all structured and feels, well, structured.

The whole concept is a very interesting and new to me. For now, I have at least come up with a temporary solution. When I feel overwhelmed by these constant and completely opposite messages I'm sending myself, I simply tell myself: "Please ignore." or "Skip please!"

Then, I get myself something to eat and drink, or I do a workout. Then, when I'm ready, I can take time explore what's happening and take action on the outcome.

I hope you like these explorations. If not: Please ignore. Skip please!


  1. Iris: I, for one, *love* these explorations you and Teflon especially share with us, so please keep them coming. I love the process of being self-aware, of observing ourselves in action.

    Personally, I have found the left- and right-brain model extremely useful to understand how my mind functions, though I take care to remember it's only a model and not the *truth*. My education & career as an engineer has developed my left-brain intensively, and I feel that caused my experience of life to be predominantly logical, stable and structured. I rarely experienced extreme highs or lows in mood or emotion. But over the last couple of years, in large part due to Option-facilitated explorations, I've been able to allow my right-brain to surface more often, and the resulting experiences have been quite incredible and enriching.

    For instance, music is a quick gateway to peak experiences (which I'm guessing is a right-brain function). The other day I was at a group singing event, and I was spontaneously moved to tears with the experience of connecting with something ineffably deep and all-accepting. I've also had umpteen occasions where I've connected at a very deep level with my kids - especially my little Son-Rise man who seems to operate permanently from that place. Luckily, unlike what you describe in this blogpost, Iris, I've not had a problem integrating my left-a and right-brain personas. In fact, my left brain realizes that I'm ultimately the one giving myself these experiences and actually helps me digest and assimilate them. I absolutely loved how Bears pointed out (in the PowerDialogues book) the left brain's involvement in assessing and changing beliefs, so that the process of personal growth is beautifully integral and holistic, in my opinion.


  2. Thanks for your comments and your wonderful examples Sree. I can say that luckily probably ninety to ninety five percent of my time I live from my left brain or I use my brains combined. Which is a wonderful combination. But yes, when I do get to this right brain stage, I sometimes create hard times for myself, because everything I normally value seems to be gone, and the world I am and my responses seems to be confusing and strange.

    I think that the main challenge is that when I am in my "really right brain", I deny most good left brain solutions! Mark described it as this: Iris in her "left brain mode" is persistent and Iris in her "right brain mode" is stubborn!


  3. Iris: If something (related to human functioning) is working ninety to ninety-five percent of the time, that's darn good in my opinion. But then, it's the remaining five to ten percent that provides the next opportunities for personal growth, eh? I have a whole blogpost forming in my head about that, revolving around my experience last weekend in a roller-coaster, complete with a four-windowpane diagram about comfort and discomfort...but it will emerge only if my left-brain will relinquish its need for it to be perfect when created :-)


Read, smile, think and post a message to let us know how this article inspired you...