Few people can naturally use both hands equally well in performing tasks. These people are called ambidextrous.
If you ever wanted to become ambidextrous, the good thing is that you can learn with practice.
Now, how cool is that?
Here’s Why You Can Learn To Be Ambidextrous:
You can learn to be ambidextrous because handedness depends on the brain and not on the hands. Half of our brain controls our fine motor movements, opposite our dominant hand.
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This means that the left-brain hemisphere dominates right-handed people (like me!) and vice versa.
If the brain dictates our handedness, then it’s also possible to remove this barrier.
The brain is capable of learning and growing, according to a study from Harvard. Also, learning and growing is actually perfect for the brain!
So, it’s possible that with constant practice, a right-handed person can teach themselves to work deftly with the left hand.
Performing new activities will also force the brain to learn and think. Regular practice is an excellent way to keep the brain in optimum condition.
Based on this information, there’s a good chance that one can learn to be ambidextrous, but it’s not going to be easy.
There is a lot of practice and patience required if a righty also wants to be a lefty.
How Long Does It Take To Become Ambidextrous?
The time needed to learn to be ambidextrous is relative to the individual’s skills and goals in attempting this feat.
If you’re planning to write well with your non-dominant hand, then with constant practice, it should presumably take a shorter time than, say, balancing the motor skills of both hands.
Learning to become ambidextrous can take as short as several months to a few years.
The time needed to learn to work with the non-dominant hand isn’t the same for everyone because the difficulty of these tasks also varies from person to person. Each person is unique in skills, strength, and other physical factors such as muscle mass or bone density.
However, if you’re determined to do this, a systematic approach should make this feat possible.
How Can I Learn To Be Ambidextrous?
To become ambidextrous, you can start practicing with simple activities. With patience and practice, you can eventually use your non-dominant hand for other simple movements.
When you’ve perfected the tips below, you can move on with more challenging activities like playing the guitar with your weaker hand.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Exercise Your Non-Dominant Hand:
Because you’re not always using this hand, it’s safe to assume that it’s not as strong as your dominant hand. Thus, it makes sense first to address this issue.
You can lift weights with the non-dominant hand, focusing on keeping a tight grip with your hand. You can also try tossing a ball using your non-dominant hand to get comfortable.
- Do tracing exercises:
After improving your non-dominant hand’s strength, it’s time to get started with simple tracing activities.
Think about a child just beginning to learn how to write.
You can start tracing shapes or letters for practice using any book you have. Or you can also try printing out writing activity sheets for your daily routine.
- Use a computer mouse:
As an added practice, try using the non-dominant hand with your computer mouse. It’s just another way of tricking your brain into thinking that your other hand is now more dominant.
- Practice daily tasks:
To ensure that you’re getting enough practice, use your non-dominant hand to perform everyday tasks such as brushing your teeth.
In practicing this, I realized that it’s awkward to use my left hand, even for simple things like opening the door. So, try doing all simple daily tasks with the other hand.
- Move to more complicated tasks:
Now that you’re comfortable using the non-dominant hand for daily tasks, it’s time to try more difficult ones. Why not practice using the other hand in playing a musical instrument or when playing a sport?
Practicing the non-dominant hand in sports can be very handy, I imagine.
Are you determined to use your other hand as adeptly as the dominant one? Keep up with daily practice.
Are There Negatives?
The benefit of using both hands with ease is obvious, but are there drawbacks? Like with anything in life, yes, it also comes with disadvantages.
Is Becoming Ambidextrous Harmful?
In the past, it was common to hear about people being forced to use their right hand even if they prefer their left.
As a result, some people developed a level of ambidexterity — using their right hand to hold the spoon when eating but using the left for drawing, writing, or other activities.
Eventually, the hype died down over time when this practice failed to show that it improved brain function.
It may also harm neural development.
The risk of training yourself to be ambidextrous is that you may develop difficulties performing cognitive tasks. The two hemispheres of our brain aren’t interchangeable, and each handles different tasks.
Attempting to tamper with this natural setup may lead to psychological problems.
It’s alright to teach the non-dominant hand to become more skillful at handling certain activities.
However, this shouldn’t be overdone so as not to affect your dominant hand.
Disadvantages of Being Ambidextrous
What about people born with ambidexterity?
There was once a belief that ambidextrous people were superior to right- or left-handed people. This stems from the assumption that using both hands adeptly has to do with both sides of the brain working equally well.
Unfortunately, according to a Scientific American article, people born ambidextrous are associated with developmental problems.
In a study involving 11-year old children, those naturally ambidextrous showed a higher tendency to have academic difficulties than those who are right- or left-handed.
Here are other disadvantages of being ambidextrous:
- Easily angered or influenced emotionally
- Higher chance of developing ADHD
- More likely to experience age-related decline
However, keep in mind that despite these potential disadvantages, many of the most famous artists, leaders, business minds, and athletes were ambidextrous.
Some Famous Ambidextrous People
Using both hands expertly is undoubtedly beneficial for people doing music, arts, and sports.
Here are some of the most famous people known for their ambidexterity:
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Benjamin Franklin
- Albert Einstein
- Adam Levine (writes with the left hand and does other activities with the right)
- LeBron James
- Michelle Kwan
Can You Teach Yourself To Be Left-Handed?
So what about when it comes to picking a side? Can you choose to have a dominant hand?
Hand preference starts before birth, becomes progressively apparent in childhood, and usually becomes consistent over time.
Science has determined that handedness is a complex trait influenced by various factors such as environment, genetics, and chance.
However, genetics contribute only 25% to handedness. (Sources listed at the bottom of this article)
So, yes, a right-handed person can train themselves to do things with their left hand.
Our preference for the left or right hand has already been determined before birth. With exposure and experience, handedness becomes more consistent with time.
However, with the help of constant practice and a lot of patience, you can learn to use your non-dominant hand more proficiently.
If you want to use both hands well, keep working towards improving your non-dominant hand’s strength and skills.