If you’ve started to become aware of the self-defeating messages from your lizard, if you’ve begun to identify its “Tunes O’ Terror,” then you’re ready for the next step. You’re ready to put your lizard in its place (which is on a leash), where it can do as little harm as possible.
How does one tame one’s reptile? By proving it wrong. And boy oh boy are there a lot of lizards who need to be proven wrong.
Lizards say ridiculous things. They’ll tell you that no one wants you. They’ll say that you are doomed to a life of rejection. They’ll point out all of your imperfections, exaggerate your flaws, and relentlessly compare you to people who they perceive are doing better than you in order to point out your inadequacies.
They’ll convince you to stay in crappy relationships. They’ll persuade you to end great relationships. They won’t let you share your vulnerability, they will try to keep you stagnant in your old habits and ways (no matter how destructive) and they will totally freak out if you even start to think about changing.
If you let them run wild, wild they will run until you’re so convinced of your inferiority that you’ll decide love is just not worth the risk. See what I mean? These lizards can do some serious damage. And they can be a tricky. Just when you think you’ve got yours under control, it will find another way to sneak in with another tactic to keep you stuck. (By the way, feeling stuck is almost ALWAYS a lizard issue). I would be remiss if I did not say that taming a lizard requires a great deal of self-awareness.
And not only that. Taming your lizard also requires you to be aware of the implied meaning behind its negative messages. Therein is the way you prove the lizard wrong.
Let’s say, for example, that your lizard tells you that you’ll be rejected by the next person you’re interested in and that person really does reject you. You may be tempted to claim that the lizard was right all along. But if you look at this situation closely, you’ll realize that you’re not upset so much about the rejection as you are about what you’re making that rejection mean.
What are you making that rejection mean about you? Let your lizard answer that question and then you’ll have the story you need to disprove.
What Buddha said, and what I’ve found to be true through my own experience, is that it’s not reality that causes us suffering. It’s the stories we tell ourselves about reality. It’s not the events of life that hurt us; it’s the meaning we assign to these events. Here, listen to this lizard stuff:
The person I loved doesn’t want to be with me which means there’s something wrong with me.
My marriage ended which must mean I’m a failure.
The woman I have a huge crush on doesn’t reciprocate my feelings which means I’m a loser.
The love of my life fell in love with my best friend which means she’s better than me.
I haven’t been on a good date in years which must mean I’m deeply flawed.
The “one” I prayed for to come into my life is now gone which means God has abandoned me.
This is the stuff we need to disprove. These are the painful thoughts and beliefs that keep hurting us. These are the destructive stories that keep us very, very far away from love.
Remember, these thoughts are products of a part of our brains scientists call “the reptilian brain.” I don’t know about you, but I’d rather my thinking be associated with something more sophisticated than a reptile’s.
So when the lizard pipes in with its stuff, it is up to us to challenge the validity of its statements. Put these lizard thoughts up against the clarity of truth and suddenly the lizard loses its power. Once you get the hang of this process, you’ll start to find that the lizard thoughts are incredibly funny. Yes, that’s right. After some practice, you’ll start laughing at the lizard because the wiser part of you will recognize the truth. This, my friends, is how we evolve.
Questioning lizard thoughts is pretty simple. All you need to do is ask yourself 4 questions and turn around your original thought. (You can thank the enlightened Byron Katie for these questions and visit her website for more information on how to do “The Work”). Here are the 4 questions:
1. Is that true?
2. Can I absolutely know that this is true?
3. Who am I with this thought? How do I react when I think this thought is true?
4. Who would I be without this thought?
Then the Turnaround (where you state the opposite of your original thought).
In the weeks to come, I’ll show you how you can question your lizard thoughts and turn them around to truth. Some of my clients have even given me permission to share their lizard thoughts with you, so that you can see how this process works with some of the most common fears we all have about ourselves.
There is a lot of love waiting for you in the world. And all you have to do is get your lizard out of the way so that you can have it.