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Meet Your Frenemy, The Lizard

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Feeding time at the reptile park is a sight to see!  I spent the day at one such park in India back in ’08. I saw crocodiles and alligators, iguanas, lizards, turtles and snakes from all over the world. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of reptiles—although turtles are cool. The whole experience was one of being intrigued by these scary-disgusting-fascinating creatures and marveling at their behavior with each other.

Alligator Park, Southern India

Interestingly, human beings actually share a significant trait with these reptiles. Did you know that? We often draw comparisons between ourselves and other mammals, but reptiles? Yep. And it’s our brain! It’s not our complete brain, but it’s a significant part in the subconscious area. All reptiles have it, and so do we. Meet your Lizard Brain. What is the Lizard Brain? I’m so glad you asked.

The Lizard Brain is the part of your subconscious that responds to threat.

The Lizard Brain is the part of your subconscious that responds to threat. It is designed to keep you alive, get you through crisis and out of danger. When the Lizard Brain perceives a threat, it shifts into automatic. The logical and reasoning brain is virtually inaccessible at that point, and you’re left to draw on whatever has been pre-programmed into the subconscious brain through experience and habit. Which is AWESOME when a bear is chasing you. Its full purpose is to keep you safe enough to survive. And at the same time, this Lizard Brain has zero capacity to help you thrive.
This is where many of us get stuck with fear in our everyday lives. Our response to perceived threat actually becomes an obstacle to our success. We will see conflict, opportunity or risk as though it was a bear and act accordingly. We have three options once the situation is determined to be a threat: we will fight it, run away from it or freeze in indecision.

Dr. Daniel Goleman described this as the “Amygdala Hijack,” in his book, Emotional Intelligence. The amygdala is the part of our lizard brain that sounds the alarm to set our automatic reactions in motion. It’s considered a hijack when it takes over the rational brain and has us behaving as though a bear is chasing when instead we’re being offered a promotion at work. See how this can get in the way? Take a moment to notice how this keeps you from going after things you truly want in your career, relationships and health.

..the full purpose of the Lizard Brain is to keep you safe enough to survive. It has zero capacity to help you thrive.

But here is the good news! When you really get and accept what the Lizard Brain is there for, and what it’s not there for, you can master it instead of it mastering you. Remember, the full purpose of the Lizard Brain is to keep you safe enough to survive. It has zero capacity to help you thrive.

Next week’s conversation will help you recognize the Lizard Brain in operation and identify the impact it’s currently making on your life—cuz one of the things it’s really good at is remaining anonymous. So your ability to identify when it’s at work is a critical step in dealing with it. Stay tuned!

When you really get and accept what the Lizard Brain is there for, and what it’s not there for, you can master it instead of it mastering you.

Be Great!

Becky

Becky Henderson
Becky Henderson
I am a catalyst to uncover the blocks and barriers getting in your way of creating the life you desire. Together we can transform the obstacles into opportunities. I listen to what you say…and what you do not say. Similar to a mirror, I show you what you cannot see on your own right now, and tell you what is necessary to create the results you are looking for. I value who you are and where you want to go in life.
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