Have you ever been so aggravated by your staff or a client or a colleague that you got completely caught up in a negative emotional state? To the point where you were distracted from solutions and cooperation and consumed with wondering how you could get this person to just behave differently?
In the second most watched of all TED talks, scientist Jill Bolte tells an amazing story of her firsthand realization that we all have the ability to step outside of an unproductive state of mind – instantly. Bolte discovered this while observing and analyzing her own mental deterioration during a stroke caused by a tumor on the left side of her brain.
Bolte’s resulting “stroke of insight” was that we are all capable of shifting our perspectives at any time by deciding to see ourselves as either connected to others or alienated from them. This is because the two sides of our brain have 2 different personalities and we can choose at any moment to take advantage of how each side sees the world differently.
The right side of the brain focuses on how we are all connected to one another. This side is all about the here and now. “From the perspective of this part of our brain,” explains Bolte, “we are energy beings connected to each other by our right hemispheres as one human family”. Our right hemispheres always see and each moment as “perfect”, “whole” and “beautiful”. This is the “WE” part of the brain.
The left side of the brain, on the other hand, only processes the ways we are different from and separate from others. That’s because this side is focused on the past and the future; it is linear and methodical. Its job is to “pick out details, organize and categorize, associate with the past and project into the future all of our possibilities”. This is the “I” part.
The lesson: Even when you’re really aggravated by the inevitable friction of working with others, you don’t have to give into your left hemisphere’s bias that paints you in your mind’s eye as a lone individuals fighting for a piece of a limited pie. You always have the ability to consciously tap into your right hemisphere’s perspective instead and see at yourself as connected to the person who has set you off. After all, according to your right brain, you and your momentary adversary are both perfect, whole and beautiful.