Life

How To Teach Yourself To Be Left-Handed

Turns out, left handedness is only 25% genetic.

How To Teach Yourself To Be Left-Handed
Grace Cary/Moment/Getty Images
Updated: 
Originally Published: 

If you're a right-handed person, you might be curious about what it's like to be left-handed. After all, it still seems like something that is quite unique, as even science says it's still a pretty rare trait. Maybe your curiosity has reached a point where you actually want to learn how to write with your other hand. Teaching yourself how to become left handed if you're right handed can be extremely tricky, and it's going to require a lot of patience and training — but it's not impossible.

There are a few reasons someone might want to learn how to be ambidextrous. Some people believe that learning how to use both hands interchangeably can be better for brain function, while others simply want to say that they can write and use both hands. And then there are more practical reasons: some get injured or sick, lose the use of their right hand, and have no other choice.

According to Sebastian Ocklenburg, Ph.D., a professor of biopsychology at Ruhr University's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in Bochum, Germany, and blogger on handedness at Psychology Today, left handedness is “determined by both genetics (25%) and non-genetic factors (75%).” He explains that this has been determined by “large-scale studies comparing handedness in twins, with siblings and parents.”

If you're determined to become left handed as a righty, then doing so can be possible, however, as Ocklenburg explains to Bustle, “while some parts of the brain of converted right-handedness resemble activation in left-handers other parts will stay in the typical right-handedness pattern forever.” So, keep in mind that this isn't exactly the easiest task in the world, and if you’re naturally right handed, you will forever exhibit some right handed patterns. This is due to the fact that these two parts of our brain are not interchangeable, and so you're basically going against your nature when learning how to use the other hand properly.

There are certain steps you can attempt to take, and remember: be patient. This isn't going to happen overnight!

1

Start By Tracing

You might feel anxious to just start the hard stuff right away, but going immediately into writing full words and sentences with your non-dominant hand isn't going to end well. You'll most likely fail, and then you'll feel frustrated. Instead, start by tracing letters and shapes. You can use writing workshop books that children often use to learn how to write, or you can simply grab any book and just start tracing with your left hand. It will help make the movement feel a bit more natural. One women told the BBC that she learned how to be left-handed by doing exactly this — tracing.

2

Work On Holding The Pen Comfortably

The way you hold a pen or pencil is a crucial part of how well you write. If you have a super tight grip on your writing utensil, you're going to create tension in your hand and make it more difficult to write (that's why your handwriting gets all weird when you're been writing for a long time). Train yourself to hold the pen comfortably in your left hand, which is going to be difficult, because it's something you aren't comfortable with. Keep your hand loose and relaxed, making a conscious effort to take breaks.

3

Practice Writing With Your Left Hand Every Day

If you're going to start writing with your non-dominant hand, you need to be committed to the training. That means it's something you're going to need to work on every single day. Set aside about 20 minutes or a half hour to writing with your left hand each day, whether you're tracing or actually writing. In this case, practice definitely makes perfect.

4

Practice With Your ABCs

Again, you can't just jump into full words and sentences. Start out writing on your own, not tracing but writing out your ABCs — take it back to kindergarten! Keep drawing out your letters every day until it starts to feel a little bit more normal. Give yourself some time. You need to adjust to figuring out how to create these shapes when your brain is working against you.

5

Build Up Strength With Your Left Hand

Since you have always used your right hand for everything, it makes sense that it would have more strength than your left. So, work on building up strength in your left hand. You can do this by lifting weights, of course, but an easier and more practical way to do it is just to use it more often. Instead of using your right hand to do daily tasks like brushing your teeth, washing dishes, and making the bed, use your left hand. It will definitely feel awkward at first, but just work through it. And be conscious — your brain is going to tell you to move to the right when you're struggling.

6

Move On To Sentences

Once you've started to feel more comfortable using your left hand to trace, write out letters, and do basic other tasks, you can start using it to write actual sentences. Take it slow, be patient, and stay focused. It's not going to be as easy as it sounds.

7

Use A Computer Mouse With Your Left Hand

Let's be real: Many of us barely actually write anymore because of modern technology. We all use the computer! So, practice using a computer mouse with your left hand to really make that connection. It's just another way to train your brain to think of your left hand as more dominant.

8

Write Backwards

If you're really struggling, you might want to try writing backwards. In most languages, people write from left to right, which feels natural if you're right-handed. If you're left-handed, this does not feel natural, and so left-handed people usually end up writing backwards. So, practice writing backwards as well — you might find it to be easier to figure out.

9

Practice A Sport

If you typically play a sport and use your dominant right hand, try to switch over to the left. For example, if you are throwing a ball, use your non-dominant hand instead. In fact, this practice is one that is quite common. “This is sometimes done [among] tennis players, for example, who want to be more flexible for returning a ball, but they usually train for ambidexterity, not exclusive left-handedness,” says Ocklenburg.

Additional reporting by Siena Gagliano.