Are you: Always finding excuses not to do something important?
Being insanely critical of yourself?
Hiding behind perfectionism as an excuse not to get stuff done?
Yes....? NO! Wrong it’s not you it’s that pesky lizard! It was never you!
DO NOT IDENTIFY WITH THE LIZARD.
First we'll formally introduce you to this pesky little doubting gecko and secondly we'll teach you some tricks to out wit him
& freezing-up are all textbook traits of the average lizard.
They are not exactly behaviours you’d require when giving a presentation, having a debate, speaking publicly , planning a venture or just dealing with human contact in general. But when the limbic cortex is driving the boat, that is exactly the kind of behaviour you can expect.
The limbic cortex was first mapped in 1954 dubbed “The Lizard Brain” because the limbic system is about all a lizard has for brain function. But you as human have so much more. Realising that is step one. (congratulations)
Have you ever noticed the magical irrationality that is the human race?
Have you ever developed unhealthy habits as coping mechanisms?
Well you won’t be alone in admitting that.
We crave success yet we inadvertently sabotage ourselves. Whenever we mention the word diet we go running to the fridge. We are cataclysmically contradictory.
We know we are. But do we know why?
One potential root cause to all our bad decisions...
People don’t like change.
Most people believe they don’t need to change, 95% of the population directly avoids any change. We naturally resist changes of any kind.
That is down to lizard brain.
The lizard brain is the oldest part of the brain it hasn’t had to make changes over the years.
It is hell bent on making sure we don’t either.
This part of the brain is charged with our stress response it only wants to know if we should attack, defend, hide or just s**t ourselves! (Literally! It’s a genuine defence mechanism built in to shed weight and move fast!)
Have you ever seen a lizard move house?
Ever even seen one with a suitcase?
I think not!
Lizards don’t like change either.
The irony of our beautiful brains in their infinite wisdoms is that the closer you get to achieving your goals, the more risk you take, the more vulnerable you become. The more the limbic cortex thinks it need to protect your from danger.
This is when the lizard starts kicking up sand.
The lizard doesn’t live alone, some of his favourite house guest are fear, rage and resistance. Author Steven Pressfield wrote: “Resistance in an active intelligent , protean, malign force – tireless, relentless and inextinguishable – whose sole object is to stop us from becoming our best selves and from achieving our higher goals” Damn! Steve was not sugaring that pill!.
So.. basically then... all hope is lost?
If you stop reading now then I could see why you'd drop the dreams of 7 figure salaries, chuck on your onesie and slump back into bed with a packet of cookies, a huge tub of Ben & Jerries and settle in for a Netflix marathon.
No-one’s judging! Life get's tough.
But hold on a second...
...the lizard may be the oldest animal in the brain but it doesn't mean it's the most powerful.
Want to stop the lizard?
The trick is to catch him at it.
Unless you're face to face with an armed man in a dark alley then you probably don't need the lizard brain to be steering the ship.
The lizard is a resistant creature but you are naturally inquisitive, curious and just plain wonderful.
You can beat the lizard without ever even needing to fight him.
That’s what he wants, the sassy little forked tongued reptile, he likes a fight.
We’re not going to give it to him.
We have an entire tool kit at our disposal and lizards? Well lizards don’t even have thumbs!
In 2007 Harvard Medical School proved some pretty exciting things to do with rewiring our brains.
Giving us back the power.
2 groups of volunteers practiced a 5 finger piano piece.
Some were told to play within a certain rhythm as fluidly as they possibly could.
Some were just told to keep their hands still and think about playing it.
Both for 2 hours a day 5 times a week.
Both groups showed new brain pathways and stretches in the motor cortex, practice whether real or imagined rewires the brain.
Mental training may indeed have the power to change the physical structure of the brain! So to hell with that lizard! Here’s what we’re going to do instead.
Practice non judgement.
Give yourself a break. When you start to hear that inner dialogue of doubt. Remember it's not personal it's just a mechanism built to protect you. The end goal is to appreciate the Lizard's critique and eventually become comforted by it, it's good to know the system is in place just learn when you need to use it.
Bring yourself to the here and now.
The lizard might be causing a stress response but are you actually in any danger ? Look around you see what is real, your breathing, the floor, a tree, a pen in your hand, the sky, wind. Anything tangible and and non threatening you can focus on in the here and now to help you quiet the lizard before it properly kicks in. Read the signs recognise them for what they are, acknowledge them and allow them to pass. Try repeating "Not today lizard" There's no need to for a fight.
Have fun with your inner dialogue. You might need to jog yourself out of the procrastination pattern. Imagining this mechanism as a comical lizard helps to dwindle its power.
You can even envision yourself shouting "that’s not me, that’s my lizard!”
Even say it out. You might feel mad. You'll certainly look it! But hey learn to laugh at yourself and your lizard.
If someone asks you to dance, dance immediately. Waiting for just 5 seconds triggers a cascade of rationalising and stress responses that can leave you ultimately glued to the chair.
Act before the lizard had time to counteract.
Learn to fail.
Failure isn’t worse that not trying.
The inventor of Spanks millionaire Sara Blakely was asked by her father “what have you failed at this week?” he encouraged to take risks and fail as much as possible. Look what she’s squeezed into to her life! (terrible pun,)
Practice acceptance – the weirder the idea the better. Go with it.
The aptly named Samantha Fountain made millions with the She Wee, someone has got to have told her along the way that was a bat-Sh** crazy idea and to pack it in.
Blessed are the weirdos for they will inherit the Earth.
Have a bit of day dream
This is not an excuse to procrastinate.
Visualise yourself at you end goal. Become familiar with the feeling of wining even if it’s only in your mind. Manifest those millions or whatever it is that get’s your motor running. Act first! Say yes and iron out the kinks as you go. If you wait too long you’ll think your way out of it.
IN FACT STOP READING THIS NOW! GET OUT THERE AND GET ON WITH IT, THERE’S SOMETHING IN YOU THAT THE WORLD NEEDS!
F**K THAT LIZARD!
Not up for immediate action?
No worries. Not everyone loves the tough love!
Hang out for a bit and read this wonderful cartoon by the oatmeal.
Yoga Puerto Banus
Warrior Women World Wide