We Are More Malleable Than We Realize

Rendering of human brain.

I was in a gifted pull-out program in middle school.  My teacher decided to administer an inventory to determine where each of us fell on a left-brain (analytical, math) / right-brain (creative,language) scale.  Someone who was perfectly balanced (do these people exist?) would secure of score of 0.  Right-brain folks would be assigned positive numbers, and left-brained, negative.  Once we all had our scores, she had us line up along the board in order of our scores, leaving spaces where there were no students with the indicated number.  The entire class fit alongside the front of the room, with one boy straddling the door frame of the trailer classroom.  I was in the parking lot.

The rest of the class had scores within 10 points of center.  I was a 32.  A number which screams, “Danger! Danger!  This person will not be able to function in adulthood.  She will be fully consumed with creative endeavors and will have her head so high in the clouds her feet won’t touch the ground.”

So, as you would expect, I became a math teacher.

Okay, so it wasn’t really that simple.  I was born with that extreme right brain and my early childhood nurtured it, as I was encouraged to participate in all sorts of deliciously creative endeavors.  Once I entered school, I realized that I would have to change in order to be successful in this new environment (I also had a people-pleaser, perfectionistic streak or I probably would have stayed with the finger paints).  I began to adapt.  I learned how to exist in a left-brained world.  The better I got at it, the more I was drawn to math (after almost failing Algebra II, I might add).  It didn’t fully cement until college.  The pendulum swung the other way and I fully embraced the world on the other side of that middle school line.

We are more malleable than we ever think we are.  We develop mental pictures of ourselves from a very early age, formed by our experiences and our encounters.  It is then so easy to live within those confines, to fully buy-in to those early mental constructs.  But we don’t have to.

In order to become more malleable, it is first necessary to soften.  Just as the thermostat helps the body reach that goal in hot yoga, applying warmth to your life helps to make your brain more malleable.  Practice acceptance.  Find support.  Be still and silence the inner critic.  Try to avoid the influence of the cold, as it only serves to make one more brittle.  Picture yourself basking in the sun, the heat softening you and allowing you to assume any form you wish, not limited by any prior assumptions.

And, you never know, you just might become a math teacher.

Thank you for sharing!

9 thoughts on “We Are More Malleable Than We Realize

  1. LOL “…in the parking lot.” 😀
    You are an amazing hybird, hmmm, hybrid.
    btw, your pertinentgait friend is amazing. thx
    i might have the name wrong. its 5 am, i need to sleep.

  2. My father was a numbers kind of guy while my mother was an artist, literally, and I have both traits. Image that battle. In order to be true to my self the two had to be united, accommotate both traits at a cost to neither the linear brain nor the abstract mind. Somedays are ‘point A to point B’ others are pointless meandering about; either way I end up somewhere. And sometimes I find somewhere new.

  3. What a perfect post for me today. I am struggling with where to go next professionally. My right brain is screaming that needs some “me-time” but my bank account is screaming in pain even more loudly. Hmmmm…. My family is taking me to Cancun in a few weeks. Perhaps I should do as you suggest and allow the sun to soften me and then see what appears…..?

    1. That sounds lovely. Sometimes a little distance and a short break can bring about clarity. And, if nothing else, you’ll come back confused with a nice tan:)

  4. Two more thoughts:
    1) Numbers are honest and always true to themself 1+1=2
    2) More & more people are having difficulty thinking outside of the box today

    (Picture monkey swinging through trees here and smile)

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