Friday, April 26, 2013


My husband and I have made some big changes in our life recently.  They aren’t obvious to the casual observer but I have been reeling a bit as a result.  Reeling and getting anxious.

I have realized that I am highly susceptible to stress.  I have an anxiety issue that I keep in check with a combination of medication and natural means.  Occasionally, however, the stress level peaks and knocks me off my equilibrium.  This causes the typical symptoms of anxiety like the adrenaline rush, stomach upset, dry mouth and jitters.  Some episodes are worse than others.

My anxiety seems to flare up when I am unable to see the path ahead.  Chaos freaks me the hell out.   It feels like bumping around in a dark and scary basement with noises that are very likely zombified mutant spider people coming to kill me. 

Then the lights come on and the basement is actually quite cozy and the noises are just the hot water heater.

So the light came on in my brain and I may not be able to see the destination but I am on the path and it’s rather nice, a little bumpy, a few curves,  but I know I have the strength to navigate it and no matter where it ends I will make it and be a better person for it.


Anxiety is the enemy of a positive outlook.  It will creep into every area of your life and poison it.  Anxiety is the zombified mutant spider people that lurk in your brain waiting for the opportunity to strike.
In Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny, author Martha Beck explains that we each have an inner lizard, stemming from the reptilian brain, which inundates us with frightening messages of "lack and attack" which is the primal way we keep ourselves fed and safe from saber tooth tigers.  Unfortunately for most of us, lack has become, "I don't have enough money!"  And by attack you might think people have it in for you or are going to hurt you in some way .  Attack fears might make you defensive -- or offensive -- at times, or it might give you anxiety ranging from mild to curling up in a ball and sucking your thumb.

I have pictured and named my inner lizard, in order to become able to soothe the lack and attack thoughts using the higher, more ‘evolved’ brain.
Beck says:
“This silly visualization is actually a very serious, powerful exercise, rooted in sound psychological and neurological evidence. It may in fact, physically change your brain. By calling on the non-reptilian part of your neural complex to watch the reptile, you subtract neural energy from survival fear and move it to a more highly evolved portion of the brain.”
When your lizard starts wringing it’s claws and bleating terrifying predictions stop and ask yourself “What am I really afraid of?”
What am I really afraid of?  When I started identifying the fears that were causing this particular bout of anxiety I realized how ridiculous they each were once in the full glaring light of reason.
Usually when I follow these thoughts to their source I find that they all stem from the same basic fears that are part of every human: fear of debilitation and painful death all alone, poor, and nobody loves me. 
Okay, maybe this is just me.  But I am sure your core fears are really along the same lines.  
So that is when I need to comfort my lizard and remind her that everything will be okay and she doesn’t need to freak out. 

My lizard is Louise.  She is technically a chameleon, not a lizard, since she is afraid of being a target.  She tries to hide, she curls up tight and hunches over almost fetal.  She has a medical condition so I need to be very careful what I feed her.  Her favorite thing to eat is fear.  She will eat it until she is full and fat and completely terrified.  

Which leaves me feeling like I want to crawl into a hole and die. 
It is vital that we see the lizard brain for what it is, a survival tool to keep us from jumping out of windows or playing computer games for several days straight until we die of thirst.  But every fear it chirps must be scrutinized for truth.  Be like a wise cow, eat the straw and spit out the sticks.


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