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  • Dutch Thomson

Intellectual Flexibility

Updated: Mar 28, 2020



One of the markers of a healthy brain is the ability to maintain intellectual flexibility. This means that we are faced with complexity, we have a powerful, adaptable brain that can roll with the punches. Our brain should be able to pivot to change directions, jump to an alternative way of thinking, and weigh options in the face of adversity.

This skill should not necessarily simply be expected. Life's circumstances and personal trauma can cause a brain to forget or lose the skill of intellectual flexibility. Furthermore, if someone has this skill, it should not be taken for granted that she will keep it. Maintaining intellectual flexibility takes work to maintain, and improve. Sometimes it takes a crisis to demonstrate our need to cultivate it.


The present global crises with Covid-19 provides us with an opportunity to consider our ability to be intellectually flexible. Certainly life has changed dramatically. Many of us are now working at home. Instead of the quiet chatter of co-workers in nearby cubicles, young children are chasing each other down the hallway with less professional acumen.


While we need to be careful to prevent our exposure to the virus, and to be helpful to those who may be suffering, we also need to maintain perspective.


In writing this today because I have friends and clients who are feeling significant fear. Maybe it's because they are watching the too much TV, or perhaps because they have lost savings and income. Then again, maybe another life trauma has preconditioned them to be fearful.


Feeling fearful can be good when it's necessary. For instance, when we need to slow down to heal from a wound. Appropriate "fear" should make us move carefully, so we can heal. However, many of us today have inappropriate fear, and we're letting that fear consume us.

Considering ways to recognize and strengthen intellectual flexibility can help us overcome irrational or inappropriate fear.


If anxiety has you in it's grip, make sure you aren't strengthening it's grasp. Ask yourself if you are seeing accurately. If you are not in immediate danger, stop, breathe and look at what you have. Consider if you really have cause to be anxious. If you have shelter and some food to eat, you have your essential needs.


To help shed light on the accuracy of your vision, ask yourself if you realize how powerful you are. Do you realize your body and brain are built for survival? You are incredibly tough! If you can't see this, you may need a friend, or a counselor to help recalibrate your perspective.


Human are fighters, born to be overcomers, and the apex creatures on the planet. This is who we are - what we are cut out to be. We are not frail. We are unstoppable. Intellectual flexibility means that our brains are adaptable, and more limitless than limited.




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