Seen, Heard, and Judged (Who Put This Lizard Here?)

There’s more good than harm in doing the work that only you can do.

But there’s a lizard in your brain, and it’s trying to convince you of the exact opposite.

Who put this lizard in your brain? Not you. Why would you put a creature inside your brain, knowing that it’s going to try to keep you from doing the work that only you can do? No, evolution put this lizard in your brain (and mine).

Originally, the lizard in your brain was supposed to keep you away from the threat of lions, tigers, and bears. Now that lions, tigers, and bears no longer exist, the lizard in your brain is supposed to keep you away from new, scarier threats: being seen, heard, and judged.

Being seen, heard, and judged are the new lions, tigers, and bears.

Do you see how ridiculous this is? What the lizard in your brain now detects as threatening isn’t nearly as threatening as the old threats were. A nasty YouTube comment isn’t going to put your life in danger like a tiger would. But the lizard cannot tell the difference between a tiger and a nasty YouTube comment. The lizard detects only what you perceive to be threatening. And there lies the key to silencing the lizard: changing what you perceive to be threatening.

Easier said than done. The lizard is great at making its case. It’s going to use rationalizations and emotional appeals (simultaneously) to try to convince you that yes, your feelings of inadequacy are justified – you aren’t as good as everyone else, so you should keep your head down, and continue living a life of ‘safety.’

But there’s no safety in keeping your head down. There’s no safety in keeping your head up, either. You’re at risk either way.

But keeping your head up is more fun, more thrilling, more rewarding. Keeping your head up is going to take you far. And maybe all the lizard wants is not to be left behind.

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