Here are a few shells we found on a beach recently.
One of the ways we see the world is by looking for similarities. See how these different shells have certain similarities – if you wanted to, you could classify them according to one or two of their characteristics.
We do that with people too.
In fact, I think there’s way too much of that approach in the world today. We look for some similarity, label it, classify it, and then stop seeing the individual. You could look at that photo and say, oh yes, shells. And move on. Or you could cluster together the ones which have similar shapes, and move on.
Iain McGilchrist, in his “Divided Brain”, shows us how we use our left cerebral hemisphere to do that. It’s a fantastic tool for spotting similarities, and for classifying things according to what is already familiar. Fortunately we have another cerebral hemisphere, the right, which seems to have a completely different set of priorities. It notices uniqueness, sees the connections and contexts of whatever we are looking at, and prioritises a more holistic appreciation of what makes something different.
I reckon this is particularly important when it comes to people.
You are unique.
You have certain similarities with others but there is not another person alive who is exactly the same as you. Nobody has the same story that you do. Nobody has the same particular connections to others, to places and to events, that you do.
And you know what’s even more amazing? There has never been another person in the whole history of this planet who is exactly the same as you. There never will be.
I was very lucky to do the work I did. Every patient I met was unique. Every person had a different story to tell. Nobody was the same as anyone else. I think that reinforced the importance of the right hemisphere approach for me.
What are you going to do with your uniqueness? What are you going to notice, how are you going to respond, what choices are going to make, what story are you going to tell?