Our brains work best when both hemispheres are balanced. We need both the structure of the left brain and freedom of the right brain to be in harmony. Too much of one thing is usually always a bad thing, and that’s especially true when it comes to the sides of our brain. When we fall too far into one side or the other, we get trapped in a spiral or block out rational thought. It becomes impossible to see our way back to level ground.
Understanding how structure and freedom work together will help you balance the two sides and break free of any blocks you’re experiencing. Instead of getting fully hijacked by left-brain, rigid thinking (or the chaos of overwhelm from right-brain thinking), noticing when you’re too structured or loose will set off a warning. Then, you can course correct to bring your mindset back to a happy, balanced, productive state.
Depending on whether you have an excess or you’re balanced, you could be experiencing structure or rigidity, freedom or chaos. Of course, there are traits (or warning signs) of both. Practicing self-awareness of when these emotions start to take over your thinking will alert you that it’s time to bring in more of the other, positive side to reintegrate your brain.
The left brain loves structure. It thinks logically and works to solve a finite piece at a time. On the other side, the right brain enjoys freedom and creativity. It excels at seeing the whole, looking for broader meaning, and cooperating with empathy.
When you cross the threshold into “too much” territory, those positive traits are exaggerated and become quite bleak. The left brain works itself into a corner only to lash out in anger and the right brain turns into an 80s power ballad full of overwrought emotions.
Knowing and identifying when you’re feeling like Joan Jett (or Pat Benetar) will help you recognize when you’ve reached a depth that throws things off-balance so can pull yourself back before you get totally hijacked and blocked.
When you feel trapped and like you have to conform to others’ standards, your left brain is holding your sense of possibility hostage. You have too much structure and are swirling into rigid territory. All you can see is ONE way to do something and you’re totally shut down and unaware of the other possibilities. Like a dog with a bone, all you want to do is focus your energy on that one thing.
If you feel tension, anger, blame, restriction, and total blockage, or if you catch yourself saying or thinking:
…You are likely experiencing too much left-brain influence.
When you’re in that state, what you need is to ask yourself to consciously say, “I’m angry. I am in blame and victim mode.” That way, you’re giving a name to the anger and deflating some of its power. Then, do something inspiring to incorporate positive right-brain emotions into your psyche.
Too much tension and feeling too narrow in your focus is a sign that you need more freedom and openness. Here’s your opportunity to look for the whole.
These prompting, curious questions to get you from “this is total bullshit” to what your intuition tells you. It forces you to let the right side of the brain come in, open up some possibilities, and restore balance. You can’t stay in your left brain the whole time and find solutions to your troubles!
On the flip side, when it seems as if you’ve lost your focus and you’re overwhelmed and afraid, the right brain has taken over.
If you feel emotional overwhelm, hopelessness, sadness, and fear, or if you find yourself thinking:
… Your right brain has thrown you into chaos and is cranking some 80s power ballads the speak to your downtrodden emotions. You’re totally submerged in possibilities about what you’re doing next.
When you’re overwhelmed, feel hopeless, and don’t know what to do, it’s a sign you must bring in structure to help guide you on the path of the next right thing. There’s empathy, but this is a whole other level!
Engage the healthy part of the left brain to pull you out of this chaotic space. Focus on logical questions and just one next thing to bring the mayhem under control..
Our brains can only focus on one thing at a time. When you start to logically sequence out the next steps to take, you start to see positivity, direction, and a light at the end of the tunnel.
Our brains need an equilibrium between broad and narrow to thrive. As a general rule to follow, bring balance back to rigidity by asking, “What does my intuition say?” and calm the chaos by asking, “What’s the very next one thing I need to do?” Look at which emotions you’re experiencing and steady yourself by bringing in positive traits from the other side of the brain.
As you learned, when you’re in rigidity, you are being, well, too rigid. Get your attention away from the anger and inflexibility for a moment and do something to broaden your awareness. Take a walk. Do something that requires a different kind of concentration (color, cook dinner, fold laundry).
You’ll pull yourself out of the story of “This is the only way to do it” and let your brain go into another state for a while. It’ll still be processing for you behind the scenes, but your awareness on it won’t be giving it performance anxiety. Pretty soon, you’ll open up to new solutions.
Chaos breakdowns happen when you don’t want to let go of your 30 projects. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), the brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Clear the clutter by writing down all the thoughts in your head and THEN invite analysis, direction, and structure in by choosing one thing to work on. As in rigidity thinking, even if you aren’t consciously thinking about all the 29 other things, your brain is still processing them. But it’s in the background where you don’t have to hear it rocking out!
Working through these steps will help you get out of a state of having too much of one emotion flooding your awareness. Too much of a good thing is too much. Too much structure brings rigidity, too much freedom is chaos. Humans don’t know what to do in that state. But when you know how to read the warning signs, you’ll be able to get yourself back to level footing without losing too much time!