The Lizard Brain


How often do you want to just sit on the couch by yourself and watch TV? How easy is it for you to turn your brain off, turn on TBS and watch reruns of Friends all day (pretty easy, especially when you love Friends, like me)? How about this one. How many of you actually use your brain at work regularly? And by use your brain I don’t mean remembering what step comes next in the manual. I mean open it up, throw out the rule book and create your piece of art every day? It is so easy to get caught up going through the motions every day, go to work, turn off the brain, turn on the machine you’ve been trained to be, clock out, rinse and repeat. Welcome to the Lizard Brain. In his book Linchpin, Seth Godin states,”The Lizard Brain is the reason you’re afraid, the reason you don’t do all the art you can, the reason you don’t ship when you can. The Lizard Brain is the source of the resistance.” Yes, the resistance. It lives in all of us and shows up more often than it should. Let’s take a look shall we?



So, you know how every animal has a natural fight or flight instinct? Well, the flight instinct, which most animals (and humans) use most often, is the resistance. What is the resistance exactly? It lives within your Lizard Brain, it’s the reason you procrastinate, fear, hate, over rationalize, get angry, and it will control you unless you make it go away. Sounds crazy right?! Let me explain it to you in biological terms, because the Lizard Brain does exist in all of us.


You see, there are four major systems to your brain, each of which has it’s own function. First there is the brain stem which controls functions we don’t control such as breathing, pain sensitivity, and alertness. Next in the list is the Limbic System. This is where the Lizard Brain lie. The Limbic System is what controls emotions and motivations related to survival, which include,but are not limited to, fear and revenge, and also feelings of pleasure related to survival such as those from eating. Third comes the cerebellum which controls coordination and motor skills. And finally the cerebrum which is the most complex system of the four brain systems. Within the cerebrum you have four lobes. These lobes are what bring out the good in us, the artist:


1)Frontal Lobe-reasoning, planning, problem solving

2)Parietal Lobe-movement, rocognition, perception

3)Occipital Lobe-eyesight

4)Temporal Lobe-hearing, memory, speech


The closer to the Brain Stem the system is, the less powerful it is. Therefore, the Lizard Brain within the Limbic System has first say in your decision making unless you learn how to make it quiet. The resistance comes out and suddenly you’re stuck, locked up, shut down, unable to make any decisions.




How many times have you decided to get back in shape? To start eating healthier? To start making better choices for your quality of life? How many New Year’s Resolutions have you wasted on getting yourself healthy again? And how many times did you give up? Welcome to the resistance! The resistance tells you exercise is too hard. It’s so much easier sitting and watching TV, going to the bar and having a couple beers, going to the mall for a little shopping (shoe shopping for me). The resistance tells you eating healthy is no fun. It feels so much better having that piece of cheese cake, warming up that DiGiorno pizza…so much more convenient than having to sit and cook chicken and broccoli. Yes, it is the Lizard Brain inside you that keeps you from achieving your goals.


OK, so maybe you’re already working out, already eating better, getting some slow results which you’re happy with but not completely satisfied. What’s stopping you from being satisfied? We all know taking that next step, being completely dedicated, is the hardest step. But who’s to stop you from being the best you can be, from being in the best shape of your life. Just one person….yourself, the lizard brain!




So what’s the next step? How do you go from being just happy with your results to being completely satisfied? Well, you have to understand that each person has their own set of talents which they’ve acquired through years of study and experience. That’s why at a certain point you go to someone that’s knowledgeable. To help with your exercise routine you go to a personal trainer, but not just any personal trainer. These guys trying to sell you personal training packages at your local Globo Gym don’t care about you as a person, they care about your money. You have to be able to find someone who is willing to go that extra mile with you, someone who understands that exercise isn’t about how tired and exhausted you can make somebody. Sure you could just go buy P90X and have the knowledge you want, right? Will it work? Sure, for a finite amount of time, because you slowly lose interest, you have no obligation to do it except to yourself, which should be good enough. But your lizard brain tells you to wait for tomorrow, wait till next week, that’s a better time to workout. You have to continually increase your intensity or your reps or progress your exercises and you have to have someone that knows how to do this and to hold you accountable. To help with your diet you go to a nutritionist, but not any nutritionist. You have to find somebody who will put a diet together that is specifically built for you, because one body does not equal another. Not everyone responds to low carb diets or low fat diets. Not everyone wants to eat lean ground beef and potatoes or chicken and broccoli. That’s why you need someone to tell you what to do.


There is someone out there who wants to help you, no matter what your goal is. So before you give into your lizard brain and let the resistance win take the next step. Write your goals down and find someone who is willing to help you with those goals. Whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle, or just simply getting into the best shape of your life there’s someone who will help. But you have to have goals, a number, an event, or it won’t happen because you won’t have anything to work towards.


Hopefully some of this psycho babble has helped in some way, whether it’s to help you take the next step or that you decided that I’m completely insane (you wouldn’t be the first). Feel free to contact me with any questions, I certainly look forward to hearing from you. I hope everyone has a great day!

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