Are You A Victim of Your Lizard Brain?

Author and life coach Martha Beck has a wonderful way of thinking. I am fortunate I had a chance to get to know her as part of Dr. Lissa Rankin’s Whole Health Medicine Institute inaugural group of doctors in 2013.

And, I am proud to be part of Martha’s Life Coach Training tribe. Becoming a Certified Martha Beck Life Coach has helped me to help doctors like you make sense of things.

One of the things that Martha talks about is the Lizard Brain. As Martha states in her book, Steering by Starlight, the lizard brain is our amygdala. It’s that reptilian part that works in the fight or flight mode.

It’s the part that goes into overdrive when things aren’t going well.

It’s the part that goes to the most awful, woe-is-me place and blows things all out of proportion.

Martha’s developed an interesting way of looking at her lizard brain. She calls him Mo. And notes that he is fond of grapes. She’s been known to throw a few grapes his way, when Mo is feeling out of sorts.

Our daily life is a Wizard vs. Lizard battle for our brain.

I’ve named my lizard brain, too. I call him Sam. He’s the one who warns me, if I eat even one chocolate chip cookie, I will end up eating the whole bag in one sitting.

He’s also the one who reminds me that my skinny jeans will certainly become too skinny to fit if I indulge in that cookie.

Sam’s the one that says the healthcare system is so out of whack that it will never be fixed and will lead us to our ruin. We’ll end up living in a tent and eating insects soon; he’s sure of this.

Sam whispers in my ear when my husband is late or my mother hasn’t called back or the message light is blinking on the voicemail. Sam makes everything out to be a disaster, for sure.

The thing is, I know Sam has my best interests at heart; he’s simply trying to protect me from the saber-toothed tigers and other lurking predators who have it out for me.

He doesn’t realize we no longer live in a world where danger lurks at every turn. He’s a lizard, after all.

What if, instead of believing our lizard brains every time they shriek, we just shrug, thank them for being so diligent, and move forward anyway? What if the next time your lizard brain sends you the red-flag warning, you find a way to feed it grapes or make it run up a tree or hide under a rock?

Next time your lizard brain takes you down that dark hallway, just stop. Turn the light on and shoo him out on the porch.

Thank him for trying to rescue you. But remind him that you are out of the jungle.

And in the mean time, I’ll be here, eating that chocolate chip cookie.

CATEGORIES: Blog on July 28, 2014 by Starla Fitch, M.D.

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