Where You Were Raised and Who Raised You: Culture and External Expectations
No matter how we try to fight against it, we are, to some extent, a product of our environment. When it comes to developing certain personality traits or suppressing our natural ones this can have the largest effect on us. Often times we do not even realize to what extent this is so. Let me illustrate by relating a story.
Sally was a giving and open-hearted person. It was the highlight of her year when she was able to entertain and prepare the holiday meal for her family. As she did every year, she labored over every detail, desiring to make it all perfectly. (Possible firstborn?) As she shopped for the yearly turkey she made sure that she chose just the right one. It had to be the right size, have no added artificial ingredients, and be the right price. As the day approached she worked tirelessly to decorate the house and be ready for her impending company. The morning of the holiday gathering, as she did every year, she pulled out the highly valued family recipes that had been handed down over the generations and began to prepare the meal. At the top of the list was, of course, the turkey. She gently set it on the counter and began to prepare it for the oven. As she did every year she sliced off the legs and placed it in the pan, and then into the oven with the legs in a separate pan beside it. Although she knew that this caused the turkey to be drier, she did it anyway. After all, it was tradition.
When the time came and the food was moved to the table Sally looked over it all with pride. The center piece of it all…the turkey with its unattached legs on a plate next to it. As the dinner began Sally’s daughter (the youngest one, of course) pipes up and asks her mom, “Mom, why are the turkey’s legs cut off? Did they break?” To which she replied, “No silly. I cut them off before I cooked it.” The young one then asked her favorite question, “Why?” At this very moment it hit Sally, she had no idea why she did it. All she knew was that she had meticulously made sure that she followed the traditional family recipes down to the last detail. The recipe said to remove the legs and so she did, never stopping to ask why.
Without an answer she turned and looked at her mother with a puzzled look on her face and said, “Mom, I always follow your recipe. Why do we cut off the legs?” Mom also had a puzzled look and said, “Honestly, I do not know. That is just the way that your grandmother always did it, so I just followed suit.” Now all eyes turned to the matriarch of the family. Although up in age, she had heard clearly the entire conversation and at this point had a cute little smirk on her face. “Granny tell us, why do we cut off the legs, and why are you smiling?” In her soft voice she replied, “You see back in my day the ovens were not quite as fancy as they are now. They were also a lot smaller. So every year when I would cook the turkey I had to cut off the legs in order to get it to fit in the oven.” Sally quickly realized that what she held close as a family tradition was simply an act of necessity. One that was no longer needed.
This story, in a cute way, illustrates the huge impact an individual’s upbringing has on what we do. For generations the cooks in the family were following a tradition that they held onto with value never realizing the reason behind it or how silly it was to follow it. In the same way, in an effort to gain approval, acceptance, or praise, people will also either develop non-preferred functions connected to their personality or suppress natural ones.
As an example, let’s consider culture. Different races or even different regions within a country have their own cultural expectations. One of the most notable is the roles that gender are expected to play in society. In most cultures it is primarily expected for the woman to do the bulk of the care for the home and children. This can put pressure on a woman to adapt away from her natural BPC to one that culture dictates.
In some families, there is a feeling that children should follow in the footsteps of the previous generation. Grandpa was in the military, dad was in the military, and therefore you should join the military. Perhaps it is a family business, one that has lasted for generations, and it is expected of a person to step up and take over when it is their turn. Maybe it is the opposite. It could be that the family has not yet produced a college graduate and a person’s parents are hoping beyond all hopes that their child will break that pattern and get a degree.
It can even be a “play it safe” type of family expectation that the parents have. They may encourage their children to just get a safe job. Start at the bottom, work their way up, stay with the company all their life, and retire when the time comes. Don’t even think about running your own business or becoming an artist. There is no money or future in that.
Recently I was listening to the news on the radio and heard a report about a small town outside of Nashville, Tennessee. The interesting thing about this city is that it has a very low rate of college entrances. For decades most of the high school graduates went to work at the local factory, never even considering higher education. In fact, parents often discouraged their children from looking outside of the town because they wanted the family to stick together. The culture of that little town had a strong enough influence to effect the lifelong goals of all in the community.
In the end, everyone is desirous of acceptance. There is not a person anywhere that will not feel good about themselves when they receive that pat on the back or the ‘job well done’ compliment. It is human nature to want to fit in and have the approval of friends, family, and colleagues. Even the most introverted person still has those select few people whose opinion they highly value.
Dominant personality characteristics of an influential family member can also have a strong effect on the molding of who a person becomes. For example, suppose you naturally have a kinesthetic sensory modality, however, your mother is powerful visual. She is very meticulous about how the home looks and how you looked every time you walked out of your room. Every day you are receiving strong pressure to develop your visual skills because your mother’s influence is so great.
Another example: You are a strong right-brained individual being raised by left-brained parents. You may naturally be more flexible with time and very connected to nature. But that is not the environment you are allowed to explore. Everything in your life is structured, organized, and primarily non-emotional. Your father is very rule-based and time conscious. There is no patience for being late or need for a pet. This will mold you into adapting those traits even though they are not natural for you.
Life circumstances are also a factor to consider. A great example of this is, again, my son Kasey. When I first began learning about the BPC I studied each of my children to determine what their gifts were. Kasey appeared to me at first to be a kinesthetic. He often chose the comfortable clothes and learned well tactilely. However, by the time he was 10-or-so I noticed his insatiable appetite for reading, an auditory gift. He started devouring books like they were candy. This began to confuse me; how could he display such strong characteristics in both sensory modalities? Then it hit me: his birth. You see Kasey was born 5 weeks preterm with pneumonia. He spent 8 days in the neonatal unit. During this time the nurses were constantly stroking his little head and arms and encouraged me to do the same.
At that time major studies were emerging that showed how important touch was to preterm infant mortality. So, all day every day Kasey was receiving high amounts of kinesthetic input, thus raising this sense higher than it might naturally have been if he had a normal beginning. Due to poor health for the first several years of his life, he continued to have a lot of extra cuddling and handling that continued his development in this area.
In the same way, different traumas or circumstances can cause a person to develop strong traits outside of their natural gifts. Sensory abuse, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, loss of a loved one, or becoming a caregiver for someone; all of these factors will tend to lead a person to make choices and do things that may not always match their natural gifts.
They may even suppress their giftedness in order to fit in or receive the praise they so desire. The auditory that is continually told to be quiet. The anterior left female that is never allowed to take the lead. The extrovert that is always told to sit down and be still. The person who’s BPC may not be a good fit to take over and run the family business but, if the pressure is great enough, they will do it. An individual may have a BPC that is the opposite of what role family or society expects them to fill. In the next unit I will discuss the extreme danger if this happens and what to do about it. But, for now, let’s move on to the overlays and strong seconds.
Overlays and Strong Seconds
Now comes the part when we start to connect all of the dots. Hopefully you have gained a good feel for what makes up a person’s BPC. However, because of what I like to call ‘the overlays,’ every piece of the personality puzzle does not always fall perfectly into place. For this reason, you have to keep all of the factors clearly in mind and resist the urge to discard the information. There are three factors to take note of: 1) how a more dominant natural trait can override another, 2) strong seconds, and, 3) the results of the effects of nurture.
Let me give you a few examples of how one natural trait can override another:
An introverted, anterior left, visual, male: Typically an anterior left male will be quite competitive. However, if they are strongly introverted they will resist being put into a situation that will result in too much stimulus. Therefore, their introversion can override their BQD and they will most likely not be overly competitive.
An introverted, auditory, posterior left male: A main characteristic of most auditories is that they will enjoy talking. However, an introverted male will be a man of few words. Remember that men typically speak ¼ the amount of words of a female. Add to that the introversion level and even an auditory most likely will not talk much.
An extroverted, visual, posterior right, female: Because her sensory modality is not auditory you may think that she would not necessarily speak all the time. However, a posterior right is all about connecting to people and the posterior rights tend to talk a lot. Add to that her extroversion and those factors can make it appear as though she is an auditory, even if her auditory score is low. Her extroversion and BQD override her sensory modality.
An introverted, kinesthetic, anterior right: Remember, one of the gifts of the anterior right is three-dimensional mental imaging ability. They will see things very clearly in their minds. This may trip some people up if they score low in the visual sensory modality but still have the mental visual ability.
A posterior left male: Because he has the male brain he has a strong gift in mentally visualizing; remember men out-score women 75% of the time in mental spatial abilities. This is generally not a gift of the posterior left, but the natural gift as a male might give him an edge in visually mental rotation.
The posterior rights are rarely competitive. However, let’s say you have a highly extroverted posterior right. Their extroversion level will cause them to seek out any external stimulus they can. This may result in their exhibiting competitive-type behavior because competition will provide stimulus; their I/E level can override their BQD.
In general, anterior rights are not overly concerned with organization. But, let’s say that you have a strongly visual, anterior right. He/she may have everything in sight organized because it looks good and the way things look are very important to a strong visual. Their sensory modality will override their BQD.
Are you getting the picture? You have to take into consideration ALL of the nature factors. They are all parts of the whole. At times the sensory modality will be so strong that it overrides the gender, BQD, or I/E level. At other times their BQD will be so strong that it overrides the sensory modality, I/E level, and gender. The key is not to get too hung up on the little differences. It is these differences that create the beauty of each individual personality.
There will also be times when a person scores or relates very strongly with two BQD’s. This is where you will see what I call the ‘strong seconds.’ Most of the time you will see them both in the same hemisphere. Meaning that some will score evenly, or close to, in the anterior and posterior left (left hemisphere) or the anterior and posterior right (right hemisphere). You will also see anterior and posterior close scores; meaning the score in both the anterior left and right are high, or both the posterior left and right are close.
I feel, even in this case, you will still see that in one they spend the very least amount of energy, with the other a strong second. This is very common and helps with gaining a clear understanding of their Brain Personality Connection. You can call these double rights, double lefts, double anteriors, or double posteriors. I myself tend to be considered a double anterior with a right dominance. This means that the area in which I most likely spend the very least amount of energy would be my anterior right.
However, I can slide to the left anterior region with some ease and work there as well, burning slightly more energy than the right side. But, please, do not ask me to use the posterior regions much, especially the left. These areas use too much energy for me and I will burn out quickly.
I know it is confusing but the more you work with people you will see these factors show up. Then the more you see them, the more you will be able to identify and explain them. You may even, at times, find someone who relates or scores well in three separate quadrants or in rare occasions you will see someone who is utilizing all four quadrants equally. This will most likely be the result of developing skills in non-preferred quadrants due to some of the factors we discussed earlier in this chapter.
When you are faced with this type of situation it is best to have them identify what tasks they LEAST like doing; those functions that they procrastinate or find especially labor intensive. Now that you have identified the most difficult tasks, it will very likely be the diagonally opposite BQD that is their natural gifted area.
You now have a complete picture of what is involved in identifying an individual’s brain personality connection. Their I/E level, sensory modality, gender, and BQD, all combined with the influence of family and culture. The impact that this information can have on a person’s life is huge. The understanding and clarity it can provide will improve every aspect of their life and relationships. However, not living true to your natural BPC can result in unhappiness, low self-esteem, and even poor health.
This is the topic that I will discuss in the next unit.