In 2007, I travel 92,000 miles on United Airlines. In 2008, it was 102,000 miles and in 2009, a whopping 117,000 miles. This year…not so much. I have only logged 17,000 miles and it’s already the middle of July. The bad news is that I won’t get the “red carpet” treatment in 2011. The good news is that I have time to do whatever I want.
Not traveling 100,000 miles a year means a minimum of sixteen hours each week that I don’t have to be occupied with travel. That’s a lot of time. I’m now free to tackle all the things I’ve wanted to do when I was too busy working other people’s agenda.
You would think I would be ecstatic but I am miserable. Why? Because doing the things that are truly personal to you, like writing a book, starting a business, telling the boss the truth or writing a controversial report at work, means that the real you is exposed. Your ideas, your passion, your thoughts are out there for the whole world to judge. And that’s scary!
It’s the reptile brain that is responsible for the fear we experience when we step out on a limb. I recently ran into an old friend who had made the leap from advertising consultant to full-time fine artist. I am sure his “lizard brain” went crazy…”What if no one buys your stuff? What if people laugh? What if you can’t support your family? Let me protect you. RUN!”
First of all, did you know you had a “lizard’ brain? We all do. It’s referred to as the oldest part of the brain because it is similar to the brain in some of the oldest creatures on earth like lizards and other reptiles. It lies deep in the anatomy of the brain and is the part of the brain known as the amygdala.
In contrast to the newer parts of your brain, the cortex and the cerebellum, which produces conscious, intelligent analysis of your situation, the lizard brain is quick to react to danger and has been known to hijack the newer more sophisticated thought mechanisms in your head.
Have you experience your lizard brain lately? I bet it was around doing something that allowed the real YOU to come through. I can tell when the lizard takes control because I procrastinate, stall, sharpen pencils and generally do anything that is safe. Well, here are a few tips on taming the lizard.
1. Be still. The lizard brain’s primary response is to get you to fight or flee. So don’t do either. Don’t fight your self (negative self-talk) or flee (do anything but what you really want.) Just stay with the resistance.
2. Acknowledge the fear. Recognize the resistant for what it is. Acknowledge that fear has its place but not here. Remind yourself that what you are about to do is not scary but exciting.
3. Breathe. The lizard brain loves it when you are oxygen deprived. Its thinks you are in danger remember. So fill your brain with oxygen and stay calm.
4. Do it anyway. Feel the fear but do it anyway.
The next time you feel that fear and agitation, you’ll know it’s because you are on to something great, so face it down and do your thing. There is so much in you that the world needs. Don’t let the lizard win.
I don’t have to go anywhere today, so I guess I will have a go-round with the lizard. I’m learning to win on a consistent basis and that means I get to DO whatever I want.
Here’s to your success,
Linda Sommer, MBA