Ups and Downs of Adapting
©Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Nothing is as stressful as trying to be a different person from whom you are.
--Michael Levine, MD
Human beings are able to adapt. That's a good thing. Some adapting is desirable. It allows you to develop skills and change in a way that permits you to fit in to a new or specific situation. It increases your options and give you opportunities to accomplish a variety of tasks and activities. There is a big difference, however, between desirable adapting and excessive or prolonged adapting. In some ways it is simple to figure out which is which; in other ways, maybe not so much. This may be because there is a tendency to think, that if you've learned to do something well, the task must also be energy-efficient for your brain.
Adapting represents the quintessential different strokes for different folks. Tasks that require adapting in one individual can represent innate giftedness in another. Activities that energize one person can exhaust another. When an individual is born with a style of brain function that typically is rewarded by or approved of by society for their gender they tend to adapt less. They are more likely to identify with, develop, and use their innate giftedness the majority of the time.
In the United States, especially in the WASP cultures, there are very clear rewards and expectations for performance based on gender and brain function. For example:
- Males tend to be rewarded for and expected to evidence competence in tasks that draw heavily on the left frontal lobe of the brain, and secondly for a double left hemisphere pattern
- Females tend to be rewarded for and expected to evidence competence in tasks that draw heavily on the right posterior lobes of the brain, and secondly for a double posterior-lobes pattern
Consequently, a female with a brain lead in one of the frontal cerebral divisions and a male with a brain lead in one of the right hemisphere divisions are the most likely to adapt—especially if they are extroverted and are able to do so.
Following are examples of tasks that could represent either temporary (desirable) adapting or prolonged (undesirable) adapting based on an individual brain's own innate talents and energy advantage.
Offer a listening ear – typically accomplished most energy-efficiently by a brain with a lead in the Harmonizing Division.
On the other hand, to open a family-counseling office or become a grief-recovery counselor would likely represent undesirable adapting.
Learn to balance the checkbook - typically accomplished most energy-efficiently by a brain with a lead in the Maintaining Division.
On the other hand, to take a full time job as an accountant or bookkeeper would likely represent undesirable adaptiing.
Write a short article for the newspaper - typically accomplished most energy-efficiently by a brain with a lead in the Right Frontal Lobe.
On the other hand, to try to earn a living writing short stories or scripts for a stand-up comic would likely represent undesirable adapting.
Note: A brain with a bent in the Prioritizing Division might write an article if it involves an “analysis” of something.
A brain with a bent in the Harmonizing Division might write an article if it involved a “story” about people or animals involving emotions and feelings.
Develop a financial budget - typically accomplished most energy-efficiently by a brain with a lead in the Left Frontal Lobe.
On the other hand, to take a job as a chief financial officer would likely represent undesirable adapting.
Note: Adhering to and maintaining the budget after it is developed may be accomplished most energy-efficiently by a brain with a bent in the Maintaining Division.
What types of tasks do you tend to procrastinate? Procrastinating can be a symptom of the brain attempting to avoid excessive adapting. The brain knows the way in which it works most energy efficiently, even when you have not yet identified that consciously, and it will try to push you away from activities that require excessive expenditures of energy.
The key to success involves your ability to manage judiciously the amount of time you spend doing tasks that require functions outside your innate giftedness, because those functions tend to consume significantly larger amounts of energy. A desirable overall goal is to match the majority of your activities in life with what your brain does energy efficiently. Achieving this goal requires awareness, knowledge, choice, commitment, and willpower. It also requires being able to manage who you are innately in the face of expectations of others who believe they know what is best for your brain.
Falsifying Type is a term that refers to a specific type of excessive or prolonged adapting. Coined by C. G. Jung, the term describes an individual who has developed a non-natural pattern of habitually using cerebral divisions other than the one containing the person’s innate brain lead. Jung observed that people tended to be interested and energetic when “leading” with their brain’s division of energy-efficiency. Conversely, when they tried to lead with one of the other three divisions, they experienced fatigue, frustration, and ultimately exhaustion. Jung believed that Falsifying Type represented a serious and potentially life-threatening problem with both practical and psychological ramifications.
Since it is possible to develop skills through practice, why not aim for equal skills in all four cerebral divisions? Because too much adapting can exact a huge price. Remember, you pay for everything in some way or another. The cost may be recognized immediately or only become apparent somewhere down the line. And you pay primarily in energy (as energy is the basic medium of exchange in life). Metaphorically, the differences in energy expenditure appear to be as great as pennies on the dollar.
Expend $1 per second when doing tasks that match what your brain does energy efficiently
Expend $100 per second when doing tasks that are NOT a match with what your brain does energy efficiently
At some level you need to use all of your brain all the time. So how can this work? If you must complete a tasks that requires higher energy expenditures, book-end it with tasks that are more energy-efficient for your brain. The non-preferred tasks may still require 100 times the energy-expenditure but since it is book-ended by activities that are more energy efficient it ‘doesn’t seem so bad.’ You may want to do one of your higher energy tasks early in the day when your brain and body have more available energy. Remind yourself that you are choosing to complete the tasks as part of your total life-activities package, even though it may not be a favorite. Do some brain breathing before you begin the task to energize your brain.
Remember, you do have a whole brain—it’s just that you want to manage the amount of time you spend completing activities that require higher expenditures of energy. Be consciously aware of those tasks and manage them more effectively, trying to limit them to a minority of your life's tasks. Pay attention to your relative energy level after you complete various tasks. You may find it helpful to complete the Work Task-Energy Evaluation for several tasks. Before long you'll likely be able to do this in your head.
Awareness is the first step on the continuum of positive change. The famous lines from Hamlet may be as profound today as in Shakespeare’s time:
To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to anyone.