Awww, isn’t she beautiful? Cannot Chameleon is my own personal lizard brain. I learned about the lizard brain from both Martha Beck and Cynthia Bourgeault. It’s a biological brain structure, and it is responsible for almost all our worries and fears.
I’ll skip the neurology lesson, and go straight for the application. The lizard brain is constantly sending you survival messages and while there are many variations, those messages can be boiled down to two main thoughts:
- You don’t have enough
- You’re in danger
All of our fears, worries, concerns, irrational actions, and emotional triggers can generally be traced back to these two messages. The bad news is that these messages are constantly broadcast and cannot be stopped (as discussed in Steering by Starlight). The good news is that we can learn to effectively handle these messages.
The answer is not in positive thinking, or resisting those thoughts, or denying them. Your brain interprets these messages as essential to your physical survival and will not just ignore them. Instead, you must strip the messages down to the core and then soothe your lizard. This is why we name our lizard brains, so we can soothe them.
So when Cannot Chameleon comes out, ready for battle, and screams at me: “DALE IS GOING TO DIVORCE YOU!” I don’t ignore her, or try to put a positive spin on her message. I smile at Cannot and mentally embrace her. I thank her for her concern for my marriage. I then invite her to relax under the sun lamp that I’ve just turned on and go back to sleep. Gradually she feels the warmth penetrate her skin and goes to sleep, and I am able to go back to my life. It is only at that point, once Cannot is soothed, that I turn to the content of her attack and rationally evaluate it. What is the state of my marriage? Do I need to be concerned? Or did Cannot Chameleon base her worry on the fact that Dale forgot to give me a goodbye kiss that morning?