Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Going Forth

The Lizard King                                                Image Credit: Art Car Central

Have you heard of The Lizard Brain? (Stick with me here, this IS heading somewhere...)

I read about the Lizard Brain a few times in 2010. What I'm talking about here is what is known as the Amygdala, the part of our brains that is in charge of the Limbic System - our fear, anger, revenge, instinct centre - functioning on the level just above the stuff in our brains that keeps us breathing.

Seth Godin talks a lot about the Lizard Brain. When the Lizard Brain is in charge, all higher mental functioning shuts down. I think of it as the "panic button." It will provide us any excuse to be afraid, to stop, to stall, to fight or to run away. It helps us to survive, but as Seth puts it, "survival and success are not the same thing."

I realize that the Lizard has had a few too many hours in the driver's seat of my life. Maybe you are in a similar situation? Tell-tale signs are procrastination, sticking with a course/job/plan/routine that doesn't make you feel happy or fulfilled, always putting off what it is you really want to be doing with your time, etc.

So I got to thinking about the New Year and what my resolutions would be for 2011. In so many ways, I faced several of my biggest and most obvious fears in the past year. And you know what, these things weren't as scary in the end as I thought they were going to be.

It helped me come to understand that living in fear of letting go of the stable and the constant things in life was not worth the trouble. Now, granted, here on the side where there is no longer any real "secure" future, things are not necessarily comfortable, but I'm less panicked about the future than I was when I feared losing that security.

This brings me to think about my resolutions for the coming year, 2011. There are so many things in my life that I have done that were big and scary and a hell of a lot of fun. At the same time, there are so many more that I've never made a serious effort to go about because of what the Lizard Brain tells us about fearing failure, fearing art, fearing to go "off track" in life. The fear that comes from not simply jumping though hoops, but choosing to chart a new course.

This year is going to be about listening to the Lizard Brain. Acknowledging the fear. But taking away his car keys for a while. He and I are going to be doing some trip planning in the next few months, maybe it will even take longer than that. 

Seth Godin sometimes calls the Lizard Brain the Resistance. He writes: 
"Making something that matters is hard. The resistance will help you find the thing you most need to do because it is the thing the resistance most wants to stop."

My resolution for 2011 will be to look for the resistance, question it and use it to guide me toward the things I need to be doing.

DIY Rating: 
10 for having coffee with the Lizard Brain!
0 for doing this all by yourself;
as with all good resolutions, 
get some friends to help you stay on track!

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