This post is part of my cornerstone content, written years ago, updated for today, and still inspiring wisdom and deep understanding.
Described by marketing genius Seth Godin, the lizard is “the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise. “ Doubt, fear, and anxiety all come from the ancient part of our brain, called the amygdala. It causes us to stop writing, second-guess ourselves, or sit watching television instead of doing the necessary work of getting our project done. The lizard is responsible for the self-sabotaging behaviors keeping our dreams from becoming a reality.
Steven Pressfield, the author of Do the Work, calls it the resistance. It’s the natural but annoying part of the creative process. Everyone feels some resistance when working on a project, but successful people learn to ignore it. Instead, they focus on the details of their project and the eventual benefits of that work to themselves and everyone else. Successful people spend time every day envisioning their dreams and using that vision as a path out of feeling stuck, scared, and bored.
sometimes still struggle with this part. The voice of my lizard/resistance likes to tell me I’m not doing enough, I’ll never get the words “right,” I need to work harder, and keep polishing, but I’ll never figure out how to make a “real” difference in the world. Despite knowing about the lizard, that doesn’t stop him from continuing to show up to try to undermine my confidence. After more than ten years of writing, I recognize it’s simply a part of the creative process, whether I like it or not!
Don’t let the lizard drive!
In her book Big magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about the creative process and especially the pitfalls of moving past our fears.
Here’s a wonderful passage where she gives us a little look into her own process.
“I even have a welcoming speech prepared for fear, which I deliver right before embarking upon any new project or big adventure. It goes something like this: “Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting—and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Do the work.
The lizard isn’t going away. In fact, the closer we get to achieving success, the louder and stronger the lizard gets.
For example, as I sit here, getting ready to republish this website after a five-year hiatus, I can tell you my lizard is screaming his bloody head off! He’s trying to convince me I still haven’t done enough, or maybe I’ve said too much. He’s telling me I need to keep editing and polishing because my words need to be “perfect” to be effective. However, my Captain and I have been working on this website for months. From this perspective, I realize, rather than perfect, my audience (meaning you, my friendly blog reader) needs a clear, resonant message that is light enough to be helpful and relatable enough to be meaningful.
Instead of focusing on the fear of what might happen if someone doesn’t like what they read, I’m sharing the truth of my internal processes, stories, and life lessons, offering the best energy of my intentions from a place of love and service to combat the darkness and fear out on the stormy seas of life.
“I am exactly who I am meant to be. I offer the gift of myself through my writing, my service to others, but most especially through the pure intention of my heart reflecting the Divine source of energy that lives within me.”Pam Belding
Maintain integrity and balance
Standing on the ship’s deck of my awareness, adjusting my attention to what needs to happen next, I know in my heart this Boat analogy and the lessons it’s taught me over the years can inspire healing and help people to understand themselves better, to simplify their lives and navigate their relationships. While it’s not my intention to tell anyone what to do or how to live, I do want to offer the people searching for a light in the darkness a deeper understanding of themselves to inspire integrity, balance, and hope for the future. With my Captain by my side and my hands upon the ship’s wheel of my heart, I promise to continue maintaining my own balance and integrity as I share this website out into the world with the best energy of my intentions.
I’m going to take my screaming lizard as a sign that I’m almost to the finish line. The world needs more love, light, and inspiration, and I’m here to offer my best. There’s no stopping now!
If you’re feeling stuck and scared, remember to separate the truth of who you are from the lizard trying to keep you quiet and shy. Your life is a gift! Don’t hold back. The world needs you!
What do you think, my friendly blog reader?
What’s your lizard been telling you?
What dream are you focusing on making into reality?
I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.