Why do we insist on thrashing when we’re so close to shipping? Why is it easy to always find excuses? Why do we procrastinate? Why do we sabotage our own success? Well, the answered is wired into our system – literally so – It’s our Lizard Brain, also known as the Amygdala, or the reptilian brain!
The amygdala operates behind the scenes, regulating our survival needs: food, oxygen, heart rate, blood pressure and reproduction. It is also responsible for our fight or flight reflex. It’s been described as your personal bodyguard, always scanning your surrounding environment for potential threats. So why on earth would I want to shut it up?
I think of the Lizard Brain as more of an overprotective parent, who won’t let you ride the bike because you might end up hurting yourself. It’s the part of your brain responsible for your fear, anxiety, and negativity. The Lizard Brain hates my to-don’t list, cause that’s like its credo. The closer we get to shipping, the louder the cries of the Lizard Brain. I’m certain you’ve heard it before, actually, you hear it more than once every day – it goes something like this:
Don’t quit your job, where would you get money from?
Don’t go up on stage, they might laugh at you!
Why don’t you take a nap now, it can wait … don’t worry about!
You have to keep your ego at the door, try to blend in more …
How many times do you need to fail to understand that you’re just not cut out for it … give up already!
They told us to follow the instructions to the letter … I wouldn’t recommend you do try that!
Start a blog, why would you do that … who’s going to read anyway?
Dancing, that’s not a profession, are you kidding … if you want respect in society, you need to be a doctor or an engineer … not a dancer, get real man!
You want to quit practicing medicine to pursue cooking as a career … have you completely lost your mind?
If people ask you what it is that you do, are you seriously going to tell them you’re a photographer … that’s a hobby man, not a profession, go find a job!
And the list of excuses goes on forever … we all do it – I’m certainly guilty of doing it often too, but they say, acknowledging the problem is the first step in solving it, so how do we do that? Before I answer that question, let’s first highlight the tactics used by the Lizard Brain to sabotage of success:
- Being overly critical of our work
- Invent Anxiety
- Obsess over details
- Create Excuses
Identifying the tactics allows us to recognize early on a strike by the reptilian brain and build up a defense against it. Here are some of the ways you can silence the lizard brain:
- embrace failure and learn from it – Allow yourself to have bad ideas – see the thing with ideas, it’s not hard to come up with them, the hard part is doing something about it … don’t worry about it being the perfect planned idea, most of them aren’t, but you’ll never know until you ship. So what if it fails, you’ll come up with another one, and another … most successful people today have failed one too many times before they made it!
- do something you would have never thought of doing? get up in front of a group of people and sing (even if you can’t, actually specially if you can’t) … or take something you have at home and try to sell it to someone, and see how it makes you feel, note down what you learn about yourself in the process … surprise yourself, you might actually like it!
In short, I would recommend that you do everything your Lizard Brain tells you not to do …
More often than not, the negative results of a “What if” scenario are far less than positive outcomes. Here’s only one example, of which I have many:
You’re in an elevator, your boss is there, you have this idea that you wanted to share with her … your lizard brain tells you to shut up and go to your office and let the day go by without embarrassing yourself … do the complete opposite to that, tell her about it – what’s the worst that could happen? She might completely ignore the idea, or laugh at it? Now, think of the magnitude of positive outcomes that might come out of it – she might tell you to schedule a meeting to discuss it further, she might ask you to prepare a study and present to the board, she might ask you to join her for lunch to discuss it with the partners … and so man more possibilities!
The Lizard Brain sabotages your success by camouflaging itself with logic – tell it to Shut the F*** Up!
Think About It!
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