Is living in your head doing you any good?

Or what they should have taught you at school

A photo by David Schap. unsplash.com/photos/W5TJpNKI9c4

“As I grew up everything started getting grey and dull. I could still remember the amazing intensity of the world I’d lived in as a child, but I thought the dulling of perception, was an inevitable consequence of age.”
Keith Johnstone

Did you feel like Keith Johnstone – that life lost it’s colour and magic as you were growing up? That this was just a fact of life. Life is a serious business, and it gets more serious the older you get.

How many times were you told by a teacher or a parent that you needed to work hard if you were going to make anything of your life?

So that’s exactly what you did.

Perhaps you’re a parent of yourself and you find yourself saying the same thing to your kids?

Or perhaps like Keith Johnstone somewhere in the back of your mind you knew that this wasn’t quite right – that there had to be another way. Perhaps like him you found it. Another adult – maybe even a teacher helped you find it. Perhaps you stumbled on it yourself?

If so you were one of the lucky ones.

Piles of paper on a desk - Overwork
When you live in your head life can feel rather overwhelming

What They Didn’t Teach Us At School

Yes, they taught you lots of things at school – some useful and some not so useful. But what they were convinced of was the utter importance of developing your mental and logical capacities. And this all boiled down to you becoming left-brain dominant – which means you became adept at thinking, analysing, examining, strategising, calculating etc.

They didn’t tell you also had a creative brain (even though creativity may have been encouraged when you were younger). They didn’t teach you how to access that brain or how magical your life could be if you learnt how to use that brain. They didn’t teach you how to use and balance both your brains, so you could live an empowered life.

Creative brain
Your creative brain

This was because they simply didn’t know. In spite of the fact that this knowledge has been around for rather a long time, children are still being taught the old system – even though it doesn’t work very well.

The Damaging Effects of Living In Your Head

And currently thousands of young people are waiting for exam results that will have a major impact on their future. They have worked incredibly hard, they have crammed enormous amounts of information into their heads and regurgitated it in different forms.

How do these young people feel at the end of this enormous effort? Alive, their minds razor sharp, full of excitement at all they have learned and eager to learn more?

Man with his head lead on books -Eexam stress
Brain dead

Perhaps like me you still remember how you felt – exhausted, deadened, your senses dulled, your brain unable to take another thing in. Is this a good way for young people to enter into the most exciting times of their lives?So whilst they taught lots of really valuable things at school which do indeed benefit some people, they also taught us things that  were really quite damaging.

The result of going through this process most people:

  • Believe only in logic and what their minds can work out and therefore many become completely helpless when life doesn’t follow a logical pattern.
  • Learn how to live in their heads, constantly analysing everything they say and do,  acutely self-critical and afraid of “getting it wrong”. These habits becomes so deeply ingrained that they don’t know how to be any other way, and as a result, they never get to discover the real treasures that live inside them.
  • Believe they are not creative and as a result are incapable of expressing themselves creatively.
  • Find it very hard to be spontaneous, and to respond naturally in any situation – and believe that this is a failing on their behalf.
  • Find it hard to express emotions, because their feelings are not “reasonable”. As a result many people don’t know how they feel.
  • Get depressed or find themselves dipping in and out of depression.

All this is tough but the biggest damage as Keith Johnstone describes is the dulling of our senses and perceptions so we lose touch with the rich and imaginative life we had as a child along with our ability to live in the moment – to live life as an adventure instead of as a trial.

This is unfortunately the “system” that most people grow up in. – because that’s the way the system is – because that’s how your teachers  learned, and that’s how their teachers learned before them etc.

A Deeper Brilliance

But there is another way.

When I discovered Keith Johnstone’s improvisation work in my late twenties, I realised that much of what I had learned at school was a complete waste of time. I couldn’t even remember half the things I’d learned there. But what I learned from Keith Johnstone has never left me. It wasn’t easy because like many of the people I work with, the left brain way of thinking and being was deeply ingrained in me. I took some work to unlearn those habits.

What I learned through improvisation  was that there was a deeper brilliance that lived inside me, that was so bright and dazzling – but because it had become so submerged by my ingrained habit of operating from my logical left brain, I couldn’t access it.

But bit by bit as I began to unlearn those habits, my natural brilliance began to emerge, along with my capacity to live in the moment and experience life as a joyful and magical adventure.

Woman jumping in the air in excitment
Would you love to live life joyfully?

And the result of that is that I have completely reversed the track I was on. I feel in many ways more vital and alive than when I was a child – because there were many aspects of my childhood that was really quite difficult.

If only I had learned such things at school, and if I had, maybe many things in my life wouldn’t have been such a struggle.

Where does this habit of struggle come from? Way, way back in my childhood when I struggled to learn something through my logical left brain – when instead I could have accessed my more fluid, creative and expansive right brain.

So imagine what your life would be like if you had learnt how to access your creative right brain at school?

Learning it is so easy – anyone can do it. The more intelligent may find it harder because they have often been rewarded for living in their heads. But when they discover how to also live outside their heads and able to access their intuitive brain, then they start experiencing more joy, pleasure, freedom and happiness in life.

Going with the flow of your natural instincts

And it’s never too later to learn. You can start learning now. You can start practicing today

Start Living Outside Your Head Today

This is a very simple. Every time you meet a situation when you have to work something out, or you have a choice and you don’t know what to do, or you find yourself encountering a difficulty…

Take a moment and breathe. Breathe way down in your belly. Empty your mind of any thoughts. Just let yourself be empty for a while. You may notice how hard this is for your head.

In this empty space connect with your solar plexus, or your belly or you heart. Listen to this place.

Gently and don’t be in a rush, float the problem into you solar plexus, belly or heart.


Listen to the guidance of your solar plexus, belly or heart. If you’ve worked with me you’ll find this easier. It takes unlearning your left brain habits and practice to really master this – so forgive yourself if this doesn’t come easy to you.

Follow this guidance and notice how your day is when you live from your intuitive, creative  brain.

Join one of my I Don’t Know What to Say improvisation courses and start experiencing this for real – and start living from your creative right brain.

Have a wonderful day.

If this article has spoken to you, or if you have any questions, or there’s something you’d like to share please do leave a comment. I love to hear from you.

© Claire Schrader 2011
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