The Only Constant in Life is Change—How to Deal with It More Effectively
©Arlene R. Taylor PhD
In 500 B.C., Heraclitus reportedly said, “Nothing endures but change.” Some deal with change more effectively than others and part of that likely relates to a specific brain's innate energy advantage or brain lead. Research by Dr. Richard Haier,of Southern California, has shown that the brain expends less energy when completing tasks that use functions within its biochemical preference. That may be one reason why you tend to procrastinate and drag your feet when facing a task that requires higher expenditures of brain energy. And yes, your energy advantage will likely impact the way you approach change.
Initiating or participating in change is likely to be more successful when you understand that your approach to change will likely reflect your own innate preferences including your brain bent. You are not locked into responding (or reacting) based on your innate preferences, but when you know what those are it can help you to make a different choice by design when tht would be more likely to result in a positive outcome.
A young man, I'll call him Bob, accepted a call to administer a fairly large church. Bob told me his story when he attended one of my brain seminars. It so happened that the pulpit in his new church was immense, dominating the platform. Being rather short of stature, Bob not only felt dwarfed by the pulpit but totally separated from the congregation. One day, with the help of a couple of deacons, he moved the imposing pulpit to one side of the platform. At the next service he was unprepared for the storm of protest that ensued. Not understanding much about the human brain, at that time, Bob was unsure of the best course to take, "If there is a best course," as he put it.
We had just spend an hour talking about the brain function and energy. Here's a short summary: The cerebrum, the largest portion of the human brain, is composed of eight lobes. These are divided by a natural fissure into the left and right hemispheres. In turn, each hemisphere is divided by another natural fissure, resulting in four divisions. Each possesses its own style of thinking.
Although there may be some overlap, each cerebral section is believed to be responsible for leading different functions. For example, the Prioritizing division enables you to set goals and to make decisions. The three left posterior lobes or Maintaining division help you to follow routines accurately and maintain the status quo. The three right posterior lobes or Harmonizing division help you to create harmony and provide meaning to spiritual experiences. And, yes, the right frontal lobe or Envisioning division helps you adapt (change!). In other words, how you think—and whether you relish change or resist it—likely has its roots in your own personal biochemistry.
Review the following mini-descriptions of the four cerebral divisions. You will likely identify more strongly with one or two of them based on your own brain bent.
(Left Frontal Lobe)
(Right Frontal Lobe)
(Left Posterior Lobes)
(Right Posterior Lobes)
Simply because you may have an innate tendency to approach change from one of these perspectives, however, does not limit you to that perspective. The four divisions were designed to work together. Consequently, you can choose the way in which you will ultimately respond in any given situation. Furthermore, to a large degree you also choose how much or how little distress you will experience in the process. For example, when you understand that four different brain bents exist, you can learn to avoid some of the foolish controversies and ridiculous arguments often observed on this planet.
Back to Bob's story. He unwittingly found himself in the middle of one of those controversies. He had become accustomed to delivering his sermons as close to his congregation as possible. Wearing a lavelier, he sometimes left the platform and walked right down among the people. He genuinely wanted to nurture and encourage his flock.
Let’s analyze the complaints:
- Parishioner Joe (Maintaining brain bent) actually looked stressed as he said, “The pulpit has been in the center of the platform for years and years, ever since I was a little duffer!”
- Derek (Prioritizing brain bent) asked pointedly, “Who gave you permission to move the pulpit?”
- A few (Envisioning brain bent) thought Pastor Bob’s innovation was a welcome change—but they were definitely in the minority.
- Others (Harmonizing brain bent) were decidedly uncomfortable with the whole situation. In an effort to preserve harmony, they agreed with first one parishioner’s opinion, then with another, and finally went home with splitting headaches.
A church board meeting was called. After three hours of heated discussion, the don’t move the pulpit contingent prevailed. The following week Pastor Bob arrived at church to find the pulpit in its original position and attached firmly to the platform!
Knowing that he really enjoyed preaching eye-to-eye, I asked Bob how he planned to solve this dilemma. “I’ll leave the pulpit just where it is,” he said. “That will honor the perspective of the Maintaining divisioners. But I’ll preach in front of the pulpit some of the time during each service,” he added thoughtfully. “That will give the Envisioning division some variety, meet my own Harmonizing division brain-bent preference for connection and, (there was a twinkle in his eye) give both the Prioritizing divisioners and the Maintaining divisioners a chance to practice adjusting to change.”
Mark Twain would have enjoyed Bob’s solution, I think. Twain’s philosophy was that it isn’t best for all to think alike. Indeed, it is difference of opinion that has created the stimulus for many great and useful inventions.
This was also true in antient biblical times. A difference of opinion resulted in simplifying the multitudinous rules set out for the Gentile believers, as well as the creation of a second missionary team (Acts 15). Human beings differ so widely in disposition, habits, education, that their ways of looking at things vary. Using current brain terminology, you could say that each individual’s brain bent significantly contributes to this diversity. Indeed, much of the controversy in homes, schools, churches, and work environments results from a lack of understanding that it is helpful for persons of varied temperament to associate together and that harmonious blending is not only desirable but actually possible.
Change is life! Therefore, the question is not, “Will you change,” but rather, “How will you approach the change?” Will you turn a deaf ear or smile politely and say, “Maybe someday?” Will you move toward change only half-heartedly and temporarily? Will you review your options and embrace change consistently when it is of benefit?
To travel the path of personal and spiritual growth, to introduce yourself to healthier and more desirable patterns of behavior, is a challenge. You have to take some risks. Understanding your own individual approach to change can enable you to avoid procrastination on one hand and capricious whim on the other. Approaching change from your own brain bent, and accessing functions from other divisions of your brain as needed, can help you to be more successful overall. When change is necessary or beneficial, remember that example is the best teacher and whole brain strategies are the most effective.
Left Frontal Lobe
Right Frontal Lobe
Left Posterior Lobes
Right Posterior Lobes