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15 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Think Like a Dog, not a Lizard

I have a great Dog named Timmy.  He’ll be seven years old this August (2015) and he’s generally a quiet dog, but he is protective and when my neighbor goes in there backyard, or somebody is walking by at night when it is usually still – sometimes he’ll start to bark.

Now what you’ll see a lot of people with barking dogs do, is start yelling at the dog.  “Stop it, Knock it Off, Bad Dog!”

But what I’ve found works really well, is to thank him – I give a Timmy a nice “Good Boy!” when he barks, he instantly stops barking and walks proudly to me so I can pet him, and if he’s sneaky enough he finds a way to lick my cheek.

So what’s happening here?

There’s a part the Lizard’s brain, which is part of the Lizard’s brain too, that has the sole purpose of PROTECTION. It’s job is to keep you safe, it’s at the root of your brain stem.. it doesn’t “think” like we do, that voice we discuss with in our mind.. it acts.

The difference between the Lizard and the Dog, is the Dog has another part of the brain, that let’s it “think” on how to react to the signals.  A Lizard will only respond by reaction, a Dog will be able to get the thought, and make a choice on how to respond.

So what’s happening here, is the dog is barking because it is is acting on that part of the brain, it’s saying SOMETHING IS WRONG, and barking.. when you yell at the dog, you’re saying SOMETHING IS WRONG and you’re strengthening that signal.

When you say Good Boy, Timmy’s mind says “Oh, cool, it’s ok now.” and that overpowers the protection, and he goes back to his normal routine, after a reward.

Now the reason I’m telling you this, the reason it matters is that this same part of the brain exists in Lizards, and Cows, and Horses, and Sheep, and People.. in everything living.  It is why it’s so hard to stick to that diet, why after a night of drinking you try to take a girl home, and why you triple-spell check your resume.  It’s whole purpose, is to survive.

It’s important to understand that this part of your brain is the FIRST responder.. think of it like this, if you are watching a Football game and the announcer is doing a play-by-play of what is happening – so Smith passes the ball, then the announcer says “And Smith Passes the Ball”  ..this is how it works in your brain too…

The part of your brain that creates the first thoughts, is designed to rationalize the sensation created by your Lizard Brain.. it’s already decided this is a stressful situation, so then your mind tries to come up with ways to reinforce that, to come up with what could go wrong, what is stressful about it.. it manufactures this based on just pure instinctual responses to signals that could be perceived as a threat.

So when you go up through life, and you go through school, you’re trained to follow the crowd, to blend in, to do what is “safe” go to school and get a job and you’ll be fine.

The problem though, is that it’s actually not safe, and the whole paradigm has been turned on it’s head. 32,000 people though it was safe, they went to school, they got a job with a retirement plan and dental insurance and boy they had it made.. but they walked in to work one day in 2008, and it was all gone.  What they had thought was safe – had failed them.

So the challenge now, is overcoming that part of your brain.. because it doesn’t work anymore.  We don’t have to run from bears, and hiding in the back of the crowd doesn’t work anymore.

It’s so much easier for us to blame somebody else, to want to have an employer.. those 32,000 people.. none of them blamed themselves, they blamed the company for laying them off which is much easier and much safer feeling, even though they all lost their jobs.  It wasn’t their fault, so that makes it less painful, and that lessening of pain is exactly what your Lizard brain is designed to do.

When you have your own businesses, it’s nobody else’s fault but your own, you have nobody else to blame, and that is absolutely terrifying to your Lizard Brain… so now it sends signals of Protection, and your brain is responding by coming up with reasons why you’re going to fail, poking at your every insecurity and every potential negative situation, to try and get you to back down.. to do what is “safe” to just go to school and get a job.

But as we learned in 2008, that’s not REALLY what’s safe!  It’s an interesting contradiction because the things that we were taught were “safe” and that our brain tries to emphasize as “Safe” aren’t safe anymore.. and the things that seem like dangerous risks, to walk on the edges, to step out into the sunlight, things that seem dangerous – are where the magic is happening.

So how do you overcome this?  Well.. you Think like a Dog.

The Dog that you yelled at when it was panicking – panicked more.  When you get that invisible signal of protection, and your mind starts telling you those reasons that you’re going to fail.. don’t feed it.  Instead say “Good Boy.”

When your mind is telling you “It won’t work, you’re not good enough, you’re hair is too long, you’re too fat, you’re too tall, you’re a failure.. you can’t do it.. and on and on and on..” Stop and say “Thank you, I understand that this may be dangerous.  I have it all under control, and it will be perfect.”  Acknowledge it, and let it know consciously know that you have it all under control, but take it a step further and understand that you may be stumbling into something that is really great.

When you take a big enough step that your mind jumps in and tells you “NO NO NO! YOU’RE GOING TO FALL ON YOUR FACE”  That is where Magic happens.  It doesn’t happen by hiding in the herd, it happens by taking a risk big enough that you can fail, and you can only do that — if you think like a dog, instead of a Lizard.

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