BY MARGARET A. COCHRAN — In the movie Limitless, a writer takes a pill that lets him access every previously, untapped part of his brain. But in the process, he risks losing his love, his life and his soul.
While no such pill exists, I suggest that you can activate the neglected side of your brain – risk free – just by asking yourself three questions:
Plenty versus Paucity
There is a binary way at looking at the universe, as a place of ‘Plenty’ (abundance) or ‘Paucity’ (scarcity). The way in which you perceive the universe is your choice, not a mandate from others.
If you choose to look at the universe as a place of Plenty then you know that if things don’t go as planned it’s just an opportunity in disguise. “Something good will come of it” whatever “it” happens to be. A Plenty mindset is about win/win. If you come from a place of Plenty and someone other that you wins something or is successful in some way, it serves as a joyful reminder that you can be wealthy too.
If you choose to look at the universe as a place of Paucity, then you know that if things don’t go as you planned it’s a disaster. You see progressive thinking and change as bad ideas because shifting the status quo will only lessen your opportunities and deplete your wealth. A Paucity mindset is all about win/lose and “us vs. them.” If you come from a place of Paucity and someone other than you wins something or is successful in some way, it is a painful reminder that one more finite opportunity has been taken from you and you are less wealthy because of it. This is where Whole Brain thinking comes in really handy.
Think like Toto
Whole-Brain thinking, you see, is the process by which you consider ideas and concepts with both sides of your mind, literally. Paucity mongers don’t like Whole Brain thinking because they find it very difficult to manipulate you when you are reasoning this way. Paucity types will attempt to subvert Whole Brain thinking by figuratively waving red flags in your face and attempting to engage you emotionally so that you won’t really focus on the problem at hand.
It’s the classic Wizard of Oz gambit. You remember the part in the story where Dorothy and her friends are facing the magnificent and mighty Oz in his magisterial chambers? While everyone is focused on his intimidating countenance and his very loud and commanding voice, Toto, Dorothy’s dog, who is not in the least deterred and is clearly a canine Whole Brain thinker, trots across the room and pulls aside a curtain to reveal a quite ordinary man who is operating the mechanical controls that make the Oz Illusion work.
“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” roars the magnificent Oz. But it’s too late, the jig’s up and the deception has been revealed as nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
So how do you keep from being distracted and fooled by tricks and deception? That’s where the three life empowering questions I promised come in. The next time anyone asks you to believe that the sky is falling à la Henny Penny, just stop a moment and ask yourself the following:
What’s Happening To Me?
How Do I Feel About It?
Who Do I Want To Be In This Situation?
Simple, right? But these three questions will change the way you think and look at the world in powerful ways. They will allow you to slow your thought process and avoid knee-jerk responses so that you can access both sides of your brain and give an even handed, circumspect, well thought-out Whole Brain response to any question or situation.
Here are the questions again with explanations of how they work:
What’s Happening To Me? This engages your left brain, the part of you that looks at things in a linear or analytical fashion.
How Do I Feel About It? This engages your right brain, the part of you that processes emotion and creativity and sees the big picture.
Who Do I Want To Be In This Situation? This facilitates an integrated response. It requires that both sides of your brain work together and make you personally responsible and self aware. All at once you will be functioning both analytically and intellectually.
Won’t get fooled again
Whole Brain thinking and a universe of Plenty – imagine that! You will never again be at the mercy of a paucity monger or a smoke and mirrors act. You will not need to be threatened if someone has an idea that is different from your own. You can engage in collaboration and compromise without constant fear of loss. And change, which after all is the only constant in the universe, will no longer have to be a terrifying or life-destroying event.
With this new way of thinking you can handle anything from making the right decision, to surviving a relationship breakup, to winning the lottery, to dealing with the death of someone you love.
You’ve got a really well equipped and lovely brain. I urge you to use it. All of it.
Dr. Margaret Cochran is a transpersonal psychologist and licensed clinical social worker with more than 29 years of clinical experience. Dr. Cochran works with her partner, medical doctor David J. Waggoner, MD, at the Saratoga Family Health Center, where she takes a whole person approach to mental health and wellness. Dr. Cochran is also author of “Sylvia and the Magic Power Sticks” and “What Are You Afraid Of” and is radio host of Wisdom, Love and Magic and A Mental Health Moment.
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