Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fighting Back Against the Lizard Brain

I am a big Seth Godin fan. Last weekend I read something in his book that I had read before but it really made sense to me this time. He discussed the lizard brain which if you know Seth Godin, you understand what this is. This is one of his quotes.

“The lizard brain is hungry, scared, angry, and horny.

The lizard brain only wants to eat and be safe.

The lizard brain will fight (to the death) if it has to, but would rather run away. It likes a vendetta and has no trouble getting angry.

The lizard brain cares what everyone else thinks, because status in the tribe is essential to its survival.

A squirrel runs around looking for nuts, hiding from foxes, listening for predators, and watching for other squirrels. The squirrel does this because that's all it can do. All the squirrel has is a lizard brain.

The only correct answer to 'Why did the chicken cross the road?' is 'Because it's lizard brain told it to.' Wild animals are wild because the only brain they posses is a lizard brain.

The lizard brain is not merely a concept. It's real, and it's living on the top of your spine, fighting for your survival. But, of course, survival and success are not the same thing.

The lizard brain is the reason you're afraid, the reason you don't do all the art you can, the reason you don't ship when you can. The lizard brain is the source of the resistance.”
Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? 

Last weekend I was feeling frustrated because my long run was 17 miles and I found myself quitting at 10 miles. Was I sick? No..was I injured? No. In fact, with 100% certainty I believe that I could have physically finished 17 miles. Why didn't I? Something about running a distance I have never run before scared that crap out of me. I had walked it, sure, but I hadn't run it. Running is harder, running takes a lot of focus, running hurts.

The Lizard Brain told me not to. Seth Godin talks in his book about how quitting isn't bad but quitting at something when you are emotional is bad. Quitting at something when you are emotional is listening to the lizard brain. You should only quit when you have thought out why quitting is the best option and why you will have more benefit from quitting then sticking around.

I had an epiphany during this time.

I tend to quit when the going gets tough. I am the mile 26 quitter. When I can see the finish line, I tend to quit. This doesn't just apply to running in my life, but it tends to apply in a lot of ways. I will work hard until it takes something that feels too hard to finish, then I will quit. There is something very scary about going outside of myself, facing fear and pushing past my limits to get somewhere.

So I made an agreement with myself this week. Whatever mileage I said I was going to do, I do. Yesterday it was 8 miles of pure boredom around a track. Today it was 10 miles in the scorching hot afternoon. But I did it. Both days I wanted to quit extremely bad. Today, I ran a little too long in the heat without enough water. (I learned my lesson and won't do that again:). But I have decided that I am fighting back against the lizard brain by facing my fear and reaching my goal even when the end seems completely outside of myself.

Saturday, I have to do 20 miles. Not only will this be hard because I have never run 20 miles but it will be more difficult because I didn't do my 17 miles last week. But I don't care because I said I am going to do it and I will.

Screw the Lizard Brain

Here is me after my run today. You see that blank look on my face? That's because I couldn't think of anything except for "water, water..."

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