Brain Vs. Heart.
When one of my clients introduced me to the Awkward Yeti's newest spin-off—HEART and BRAIN—I fell in love.
There's something empathetic about the way Nick Seluk captures this mismatched friendship that's
If you're already a fan, you know what I mean.
Brain looks out for Heart with an obvious fondness that gets me every time.
Yet when I saw the drawing above, I noticed an inner pang.
Cartoons say a lot about real life and this image reflects a societal bias that I've struggled with for most of my life.
INTELLECT vs EMOTION
In Western culture, left-brain processes are put on a pedestal. Analysis and logic are given the royal treatment while intuition and empathy are sent to the back of the bus.
(Please know I'm not pointing a finger at the Awkward Yeti. Imbalance isn't what the web-comic promotes. I'm only using Nick Seluk's characters to help illustrate something that needs our attention.)
Because there’s this stubborn idea that emotions aren’t very important. Many of us have been raised to believe that feelings are something to be embarrassed about and are often seen as a sign of weakness.
The heart is sweet, but not so smart.
And yet, we need our full intelligence, don't we? People who ignore their feelings have very little insight about themselves or the interconnectedness of the world.
Emotions carry important information about what’s right or wrong for us in any given moment. If we’re out of touch with them, we have no way of knowing what our true needs are or how to attend to them.
Which is one of the reasons we're feeling so . . . crazy.
Many of us are disconnected from our deeper essence and we're seeing the effect of this in our bodies, our relationships, and our world.
So why IS there such a division between the Heart and the Head?
If they're both so intelligent, then why are their paths often headed in opposite directions?
Well lean in, because I'm about to show you an important piece of the puzzle.
Yup. This is a story about two halves of a brain that were designed to work together to create a WHOLE brain.
One half is not superior or smarter than the other. They just process information differently.
Let me explain.
Brain represents LEFT Brain processes.
And Heart, represents RIGHT Brain processes.
They're both part of the SAME brain—we just don't realize it.
Most of us imagine the mind as the part of us that THINKS.
That's why "Brain" gets all the brainy fanfare.
You know that voice in your head that won't be quiet? That's Left Brain using a constant flow of conversation to help you make sense of the world.
We give it our undivided attention because it speaks our language—talking, thinking, writing and reading.
RIGHT Brain on the other hand, is NONVERBAL. It communicates through knowing, sensing, and feeling.
Which explains why it gets so little of our time.
Jill Bolte Taylor (the Brain Scientist who experienced a stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain and wrote about it in her book, My Stroke of Insight) has a LOT to say about this.
She calls her right and left hemispheres "the two very distinct characters cohabiting in her cranium" and credits her stroke (and her 8 year recovery) for giving her the opportunity to get to know them really, REALLY well.
Because as soon as the language centre in her Left Brain was shut down (and the judging, analytical part of her mind was silenced) she gained access to something she had never experienced before.
Deep inner peace.
Turns out that THIS cutie deserves a lot more respect.
It may seem frivolous and carefree, but it actually holds the key to our inner Nirvana.
And it led Jill to a stunning discovery.
Instead of seeing herself as separate from everyone and everything else, she saw herself as fluid and at one with the Universe.
Jill's stroke of insight was this:
"At the core of my right hemisphere consciousness is a character that is completely committed to the expression of peace, love, joy and compassion in the world." pg 140 My Stroke of Insight
Jill calls this character several different names.
The Wise Woman
Martha Beck calls it the Essential Self and introduces this part to us (along with it's partner, the Social Self) in her book, Finding Your Own North Star.
Do you see a theme emerging here?
Both Martha and Jill are encouraging us to reconnect with our WHOLE intelligence.
And we can't do that if we don't understand what's really happening inside our physical body.
I think it helps to know that the two halves of the brain don't just perceive reality in different ways, they have different values based on the information they're perceiving.
Left Brain values DOING while Right Brain values BEING.
Left Brain values THINKING while Right Brain values PLAYING
Left Brain values SECURITY while Right Brain values ADVENTURE
Left Brain values ORDER while Right Brain values CREATIVITY
When we nurture both of these characters and utilize the skills, talents, and values of both sides of the brain, the result will be balance and health.
For ourselves, our community and our planet.
Left-Brain Dominance leads to a dominance of the spirit. When our sense of aliveness and connectedness is inhibited, we become trapped in destructive patterns of thought that run rampant in never-ending loops.
We need our joy. Our curiosity.
We need to play and REST.
We need empathy more than ever right now. For others and for ourselves.
If we just follow the road of adult responsibilities at the cost of our childlike wonder and happiness—if we never get in touch with our deeper essence—then I personally feel that we've wasted our lives.
It's time to learn how to tend to what Jill Bolte Taylor calls the "garden of our mind".
It's time to go beyond DOING (and Left Brain accomplishments) so we can claim our full brilliance as human BEINGs.
It's time, dear friend.
In the next few blogs, I'll be going deeper into this subject matter (and tackling the connection between our thoughts and our emotions) so we can learn how to better support ALL aspects of our amazing selves.
And I hope you'll join me.
Sending you so much love,
PS. A word of CAUTION.
As we progress into this series, you'll start to realize that (unchecked) Left Brain processes have contributed to a great deal of pain on Planet Earth.
Let's agree not to see it as a villain.
This part of our brain isn't bad! It's actually necessary for our survival.
It's not Left Brain's fault that we put so much responsibility onto its shoulders.
It's not its fault that we didn't learn how to set mental boundaries with the harsh inner voice of judgement or the impulse to control and dominate others.
Left Brain needs our help.
It needs our compassion and kindness.
Mostly, it needs our strong leadership. So let's keep going! And if you have any questions, please reach out.
Illustration Credit: Thanks to Nick Seluk from the Awkward Yet webcomic for creating Heart and Brain (I'm a huge fan!). I'd like to remind my readers that this blog expresses my views, not his.