Seth Godin + Your Inner Lizard & Fear

Seth Godin, Sherold Barr
Sherold Barr and Seth Godin in his NY office

I had an amazing opportunity recently to spend a whole day with Seth Godin, Internet marketing guru, and 11 other entrepreneurs in his New York office.

Each of us got a laser coaching session on a marketing issue we brought to him.

We learned so much from each other and Seth did a fantastic job of coaching each one of us.  Our group was an interesting mix of half women and men, and brick and mortar companies and online service companies.

It was nothing short of a truly remarkable experience that I will savor for a long time to come.  This is an example of the kind of dreaming I’ve been doing lately.

I see myself playing a much bigger game and the Universe (woo woo alert) is responding back.

Why?  I am on my path.  I feel it, believe it and have taken inspired action to make it happen. This is how it works.

What is important about this event is that if I had listened to my inner critic (reptilian brain), I would never have pushed the button to submit my name and sign up to be coached by Seth.

Right after I was signed up, I noticed the fear.  I sat there and asked myself what was it telling me. There was some adrenaline mixed with what felt like fear.

When I noticed it, I smiled and thought to myself, this is the best thing I can be doing.  It felt like the good kind of fear.

Each of us has an inner critic that is so pervasive and constant that we can miss out on some of the peak moments of our lives.

We think it’s our voice telling us “who do you think you are to be doing….” or “who are you to be doing this.”

It’s the voice of your left brain, your storyteller and your ego fighting to keep you playing small. It drowns out the voice of your soul if you let it.

How We Are Wired

Neuroscientists call the left hemisphere of our brain the interpreter or the narrator because it’s our language center.  This is where our thoughts come from.

It produces a constant stream of chatter, and I like to call it our Monkey Mind.

Our right hemisphere creates moment-by-moment images of our sensory perceptions – what it feels, smells, tastes and sounds like.  It thinks in pictures.

Moments are rich with sensations.  No time exists like the present time.  We are all connected – there are no labels or separateness.

The left brain sequentially compares details by organizing them in a linear fashion.  The left brain thinks in details.  It’s the home of your ego.

This part of our brain creates thought patterns and interprets large volumes of data.  It predicts what we will think, how we will act and what we will feel in the future. It judges good things and bad things.

Your Reptilian Brain

The reptilian brain is our limbic system or as Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke of Insight says – it’s the emotional brain. 

It takes 90 seconds for us to think a thought and send the physiological effects throughout our body.

This is how we get to choose – do you want to think that same thought again?

When we experience feelings of sadness, joy, anger, frustration, or excitement, these emotions are generated by our limbic system.   The entire purpose of your reptilian brain is to continuously broadcast survival fears—alarm reactions that keep animals alive in the wild.

These fears fall into two categories: lack and attack.

On one hand, our reptilian brains are convinced that we lack everything we need:  We don’t have enough love, time, money, everything.

On the other hand, something terrible is about to happen. The other shoe will drop, or we will lose something we now have.  Someone is out to get us.

Our reptilian brain served us well when we lived in caves and were hunters and gatherers.  But when we wake up at night worrying about the job market, the economy or the Axis of Evil or Code Orange if we are about to fly across the country, this doesn’t serve us.

Because the reptilian brain is hardwired in place, and it’s wrapped around our brain stem, and we have no way to stop it from broadcasting fear impulses.

These fears are the reasons we don’t follow our passions and our dreams.

What to do about the Reptilian Brain

Martha Beck’s inner lizard is a winged dragon named “Mo.”  Mo is always wringing its claws together and saying, “No one likes me.”  Martha says she just feeds Mo a grape and gets back to work.  She notices it’s Mo talking and goes on with whatever she was doing.

If we know that it’s our inner lizard trying to keep us playing small and you name it, you can begin noticing what is driving you when you feel fear.

When you think a fear-based thought – “I’ll never get well, or I will never find a job.”  Just observe that thought and be compassionate with yourself.  It’s your inner lizard talking.

Be The Watcher/Observer

The only way you can gradually go beyond the conditioned thought processes is simply to be there as the witness.

Eckhart Tolle says, “Noticing a negative feeling state means you being aware.”  When thoughts, emotions or reactions are recognized – your sense of self undergoes a shift.

Anytime you feel negative emotion, stop and ask yourself: What am I thinking?

Decide – do I want to keep thinking this thought and feeling bad or do I want to think a new thought.  Notice the thought, breathe and let it pass.

Notice if you are in charge of steering your life or your ego (left brain) is steering the wheel of your life.

If it’s your inner lizard running the show, ask yourself a Dr. Phil question, “How’s that working for you?”  You get to choose.

Next up: I interview Seth about his new book, Weird Is The New Normal.

Watch me talk about Fear:

  1. How timely. I’m heading out to get some grapes for Mo–maybe he’ll leave me alone too. LOVE THIS VISUAL.

  2. Great breakdown on how the two sides of our brains work together. Surprisingly, as a right-brained person, the logical explanation here really makes sense and is a nice reminder that I need to play Dr. Phil on myself a lot more often!

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