Head and Heart

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

I love taking personality tests. I don’t know why they fascinate me so. Perhaps it’s because they generally seem to be spot on when it comes to describing me. I’m definitely an introvert, but only in the sense that when I become exhausted I have to refuel by spending quiet time away from people. Otherwise I really enjoy time with others. About once every three months my mind and body tell me that I have to become a hermit for a day or so and then I’ll have all of the energy that I need to be the life of the party again. 

I also appear to have a dual brain. My thinking is almost evenly determined by rational research and emotional experiences. I’m the kind of person who spends a great deal of time studying a situation before acting, but when I reach a decision I become passionate to the point of extremes. My teaching style was to be methodical in delivering lessons but aware of the socio-emotional needs of my students almost to a fault. Having such a nature can be demanding, which is why I need my quiet time as often as I do. 

I just experienced a death in my family. I carried on with my stoic side in full view until the day after the funeral when I literally became physically ill. My body shut down with so many symptoms that my daughters urged me to take a Covid test. Since I have several at home now I willingly subjected myself to the hated nasal swab. The result confirmed that I was Covid free but I still wondered why my symptoms were like a checklist of the virus’ signs. 

I sometimes have seasonal allergies and I suspect them as a culprit, but I rarely get as sick as I did after my emotional bout. It is as though my psychological pain made me hurt all over with headaches, nausea, chills, a runny nose, achy joints and assorted digestive distresses. The power of the heart side of our personalities can be overwhelming and I seem to be particularly prone the being often ruled by the right side of my brain. Eventually the left side notices and pulls me back to a steady state. 

I sometimes wish that I were either one or another, someone who exclusively makes decisions by either head or heart. Because my nature is to use a combination of both I am often confusing to the people around me. Just when they rely seeing on my usual logic I become impassioned about something and they can’t decide who I really am. I am that person who holds together like Spock in the most challenging times and then completely loses all sense of rationality once the danger or the test is over. 

I don’t cry at funerals. I never have. I suspect that people have noticed and wondered if I have any feelings at all. What does happen with me is that days or even weeks or months after the burial of someone I love I will totally fall apart, sobbing and shedding tears until my body aches. My left brain keeps me in control but the right brain suddenly kicks in and says that it’s time for a whole lot of heart. To keep things even the left brain then rescues me again just at the moment when I appear to be on the brink of falling off of a precipice. 

In a sense the battle between head and heart is a constant one for me. I rarely just buy into political personalities or charisma. I don’t care how boring someone may seem to be or even which party is their home. Instead I study their moral courage, their integrity and their concern for the health of our nation and its people. Once I have chosen sides based on an analysis of character I delve into facts and I am never ever willing to vote for anyone based on a single issue unless that issue is the preservation of democracy. Nothing makes me more wary than a galvanized party that covers up lies and punishes those who speak the truth. 

I was a mathematics teacher in both private and public schools. I taught the algorithms and processes but I also understood that I had to teach with heart. I understood that many students came to me with deep fears of math. I more often than not heard my new students say, “I’ve never been good in math and never will be.” I had to help them to overcome their relentless fears of numbers. I had to learn when they first began to believe that somehow their ability to comprehend that many facets of math had become broken. Then I had to repair the damage. That took appealing to both their hearts and their heads. Anyone who thinks that learning mathematics is only about getting the right answer has never worked successfully with students. Sometimes the route to knowledge travels right down the right side of the brain rather than the left. 

I appreciate those who are all logic as well as those ruled by emotions. We need both sorts in our world. I’m the person who like Goldilocks doesn’t like anything that is too hard or too soft. I look for that sweet spot that combines both features and feels just right. It’s been a wonderful way to view the world albeit tiring at times. It’s who I am and I have learned how to live with it and maybe even understood the people around me a bit better than most because of who I am.