Understanding and Maximizing Your “Lizard” Brain

Examining the six habits to most efficiently and effectively utilize your "lizard" brain

The human condition is informed by our navigation through a constant flow of change. If we don’t change for the better, we will most certainly change for the worse. Similarly, if we ignore those areas of ourselves that can be improved, we digress.

The phenomenon of Lizard Brain has been studied by my very dear friend and longtime business coach Steve Scanlon. He incorporates an effective approach to addressing these and other concepts that are central to leading productive and continually evolving lives. The Lizard Brain was the first part of the brain to develop. Dating back to prehistoric times, its purpose was to help humans survive.

Steve’s company, REWIRE, Inc. (rewireinc.com), leads workshops specializing in the tools that Lizard Brain uses to bring about positive change through understanding the primitive core of human nature. REWIRE has refined some tools that suggest counterintuitive action designed to help us to achieve an extraordinary life at home and at work.

The enemy of good is great. Why do we often settle for good when we can be great? Fear of change – which, as I mentioned earlier, is inevitable – is a prime reason. Change can be brutally difficult, and as such, our brain works against us when we try to change. The brain wants to maintain the status quo. But that predictability hinders our ability to achieve and to improve. Improving is challenging, but it has a big payoff.

“The enemy of good is great.”

There are four things our brains do that make up the Lizard Brain:

1. Familiarity. The Lizard Brain wants familiar things. It likes us to do the same things the same way. An example would be driving to a destination we drive to often. The brain likes going the same way every time. To challenge this, try driving a different way for a week. Try crossing your arms the opposite way you usually do.

2. The Lizard Brain looks to be right. The Lizard Brain creates stories to convince ourselves that we are right in our thinking. An example of this is how many times we choose to be “right” over having “peace.”

3. The Lizard Brain looks for habits. It looks for good habits and bad habits. The brain is about conserving energy. Thus it reverts to the path of least resistance. We have the power to stop bad habits by creating new neural pathways (where we think and feel) which when done daily for 30-45 days will replace the old bad habits. Discipline and consistency are the keys to eliminating bad habits in the Lizard Brain.

4. The Lizard Brain likes to be in control. Our Lizard Brain wants to control everything in our lives. We are all control freaks. None of us want to feel out of control.

Just because we know we need to change doesn’t mean we will. Knowing and doing are vastly different. Being as specific as possible in the changes we want to make will make each step easier to take.

There are six things we can do to help our Lizard Brain:

1. Rest. Sleep and relaxation are key components to enabling our Lizard Brain to be able to muster the energy to create new neural pathways and thus new and positive ways of doing things.

2. Enjoy. Do things you love to do. Enjoying life enables us to create new neural pathways and thus new and positive ways of doing things.

3. Work out. Working out allows us to shed stress and improve our overall health.

4. Invest. Invest time and money into people. Be abundant. Give of yourself for the greater good of our society and to help as many people as you can.

5. Release. Forgive people in your life. We must forgive in our hearts. This doesn’t exonerate them. We don’t have to allow them into our lives. There are people that are bad for us. The vital thing is that we don’t carry the anger and resentment in our hearts.

6. Execute. To help our Lizard Brain we must make a plan and execute that plan. When we execute our plan we prove to ourselves that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to.

“Just because we know we need to change doesn’t mean we will.”

Life is a process of working on areas of ourselves that we can improve. The characteristics of the Lizard Brain and the ways we can utilize to help our Lizard Brain can be helpful in living an extraordinary life!