This morning I was reminded of two scenarios having to do with fear.
The first has to do with lizards and our inner critical voices.
Do you have an inner critic? An inner fearful voice? One that says helpful things like, “It’s too late!”,
“You always were the messy one.”,
“There’s not enough.”,
“What will people think?”, or the best one:
“I have two words for you: Bag lady.”
Martha Beck says these voices come from a very primitive part of our brain designed to protect us and keep us alive. This part of our brain was especially useful when our main foes were saber-toothed tigers, but it’s not as helpful now that our stressors are a little more complex and don’t tend to improve when we simply run away from them. Martha calls the part of our brain generating these thoughts the “lizard brain” because it’s so ancient even lizards have it. It’s designed to send up alarm signals when it perceives any evidence of lack or attack.
We’re always going to have input from our lizard brain – after all, it’s there to protect us, so it thinks. But we can learn not to listen to it. Some people like to name their lizard – Mo or Shirley or Gertrude or whatever suits their fancy. When they have a lizard thought, they say something like, “Thanks, Shirley. I appreciate your input.” , and then they can go on with their original plans, before their frightened lizard weighed in. It’s helpful to remember that the lizard voice is fear-based and listening to it can keep you from living life to the fullest.
The second scenario is about a monster.
Last night, I read a parable about a farmer who couldn’t take care of his crops because of this giant monster living in the woods. He built walls around his house and stayed away from the monster, but he was miserable and his crops were failing and his family left him. A fairy godmother came along and told him he had to go find the monster and embrace it. He was so scared to try it, but nothing else had worked, so finally he did. He found the giant monster and once he put his arms around it, it shrank to the size of his palm. You probably get the moral of the monster story.
So this morning I was sitting in the yard with the cat on my lap enjoying my ten minutes of grass time. Suddenly, the tiniest lizard I’ve ever seen (a newborn green anole, I think!) hopped up onto my knee from the surrounding grass and sat there for a moment. Thankfully the cat’s eyes were closed and he missed the whole thing, giving the lizard time to jump back into the grass. Here’s her photo with a pen in the background for size comparison:
To put the two stories together, here, literally jumping into my lap, was a tiny lizard that I could hold in my hand. Not a Komodo Dragon but a just-hatched baby! It made me think of how important it is to keep stretching, keep facing my fears, keep trying things – keep hugging the monster so it gets small and pacifying my lizard so she doesn’t try to derail my plans. What strategies do you use to “hug the monster” or “calm the lizard”?
P.S. I did draw today. My “paint by number” project will be revealed soon. It’s not done yet! I also finally hugged the monster and took my ten minute paperwork time to have a good hard look at our finances- I’d been a little remiss lately. And surprise, just as the monster story goes, there’s nothing to fear. Things are really ok – better than ok – in the finance department. And I’m excited to set some new financial goals and make it fun – the way I’ve done over and over for the past 12 years to allow us to live debt free, pay off our house, buy two new cars with cash over the last 10 years, and still live what feels like a very indulgent and pampered lifestyle. More on that sometime soon, I promise! It’s an easy system that involves little more than paying attention (that’s true about healthy eating and time management too, lol!) and I love to show people how to do it! I’m thinking there’s a course on the horizon about the indulgent path to financial security – that would be fun! Now I’ve said it so I need to hug the monster and do it, right?