Switching brain strategies

Perhaps you're thinking your situation calls for taking action. If you're dealing with isolated things, go for it. If you can point fingers at the problem without anything coming back on you, taking action should work just fine. If what you're seeing has nothing to do with your way of seeing it, trust your objectivity and react with confidence.

Your situation might not be so clear cut and easy to fix. It's very possible that taking action will backfire on you. Unintended consequences of straightforward action are very likely if your situation involves:
  • human beings with their own feelings, outlooks, histories and intentions
  • relationships that get influenced by where you're coming from and how you interact with others, even if you cannot control things
  • problems that have taken on a life of their own and defy the interference of your good intentions, helpful advice or industrious efforts
  • reciprocating that goes round and round in vicious or virtuous cycles with no end in sight
  • contexts that put everyone under a similar impression about the kinds of danger and opportunities present
  • stories that go back in forth in the face of unresolved dilemmas, contradictions or conflicts
  • fears that continually manufacture more evidence, justification and anxieties about what is really necessary in the situation
In these situations, it's wise to switch from the cognitive strategies of the left brain to those of the right brain. Making this switch calls for a timeout to stop thinking so much and to become more receptive.
  1. categorical -> symbolic reasoning: The sign symbolizes something else in need of our attention. The thing is a metaphor for another thing that's useful. This thing showing up in this context says something significant. This occurrence indicates something else is brewing, changing or ready to happen.
  2. dichotomous -> inclusive reasoning: It's not either/or. It takes both. These are two sides of one coin that need to be kept in balance. The one is the other's way to keep from getting excessive and going to extremes. The two are the ends of a gradient with lots of in-between possibilities.
  3. compartmentalized -> systemic reasoning: This is the result of something else and plays into yet another condition. This ties into that and influences it indirectly. This has repercussions that reverberate through a chain of events. This is a side effect of what came before and leaves a legacy that will likely repeat itself ad infinitum. This is feedback indicating the larger dynamic is not functioning effectively.
  4. reductionistic -> holistic reasoning: It's more complicated than that in order to be self maintaining and self perpetuating. It's a combination of four components synergizing to produce the total effect. It's a virtuous cycle that keeps a lot of different things in balance and working together.
  5. empirical -> playful reasoning: What if we turn things around so the effect causes the cause? What difference does it make if we have proof when we can have an adventure? What's the sense of being careful when being spontaneous may uncover unforeseen avenues to explore? What if being a fool is wiser than being knowledgeable amidst so much uncertainty?
  6. superficial -> deep reasoning: This has an underlying purpose that calls us to take a more respectful and inquisitive approach. This is merely a symptom of complex underlying dynamics. This runs far deeper than it appears and suggests several long range possibilities. This reveals an ongoing process that can be trusted.
  7. convergent -> iterative reasoning: There's a time to be divergent followed by a time to be convergent. After exploring a range of possibilities, narrow the range to a short list. When overly focused on one right answer, generate a bunch of wrong answers that may prove to have some truth in them. Ask what-if then get what-is good about the answers to the question.
We cannot make these changes in cognitive strategies when we're convinced we're in danger. These appear to put us in peril when we're faced with a threat we cannot control and are trafficking in anxiety. It's only when we feel safe that these alternative ways to reason seem appealing.

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