Thursday, July 01, 2010

Lizard Brain

I believe the first step to my conquering my fear of lizards, is to understand my lizard brain.

I was pleasantly surprised to know that a primitive organ in the brain called the amygdala - the centre of our basic emotions: fear, anger and sexual desire. To learn that this is what we have in common with the lizard was a bit disconcerting.

To think that the reptile has the same 'lack' and 'attack' mechanisms with which I operate in the modern world was bit too far fetched at first. Gradually, though, after thinking and reading further about it, I realised, that it was possible. More so, definite.

I typed 'overcoming fear of lizards' in Google, this afternoon to realise that as I scrolled past the usual online community boards that just affirmed fear and had no real solution to the problem, I was able to find more helpful links to understanding what exactly happens when I am cornered in a room with a lizard.

And in a modern context - considering I'm not exactly faced with a Komodo dragon (or a chameleon!) - is irrational. The dread, is related to a single or few extreme emotional experiences, that can either be traced through the parent or the self, depending on the circumstance.

So what am I to do? How the flip does one overcome this?

The article link, I've made as the title of this blog, discusses it from another stand point. It resonated with me because whether I face it as a literal fear or metaphorical, both have a tyrannical hold, which I'm in the process of overcoming. Although I've made major progress when it comes to the latter, the former is a challenge.

Davender is right when he writes 'the lizard brain does not like the unknown'. I agree, I don't like it at all. I've never liked the unknown.

After reviewing major and minor life-incidents of note, I can now say, I don't like NOT being in control of most things. I attribute that to emotionally having to fend for myself from a young age. In other instances, I was able to get things done better and more efficiently when I did things myself. One thing led to another and the reinforcement worked its magic.

I am now beginning to realise that I can let things breathe and work themselves out, especially when it comes to shared experiences and circumstances. Although the maxim 'I can only be responsible for myself' soothes the nervousness that preludes one letting go, what I have come to understand is that when I allow others to do their part (however, well or sub-standard), it has no bearing on me or the circumstance as a whole. It is what it is. Therefore, it is not unknown, but an occurrence.

Wouldn't my lizard brain then immediately react and say, that then each occurrence would present itself as a bomb from which we cannot protect one-self without being smacked with an outcome first?

How does one rationalise one's fear here? How do we prepare for it? The link talks of reducing or avoiding the unknown. Reducing I get. does one do that?

I could let go of the unknown completely. It's like saying I know everything there is to my life - nothing is unknown. It's impossible, so then I do not think about it, but face each part of my life as it presents itself.

Where do I go from here? I don't know, I'm here now typing. I'll probably be assigned another task and then get to go home, bathe, watch some television, read or sleep. Past that and a reasonable expectation of a routine, I do not know what else. It is unknown.

Why does that not induce fear? And yet at the same time, I am that much closer to a heart attack when a lizard presents itself on a wall?

On reading further, I learned that the irrational fear response has a lot to do with my associating reptiles with a/a few extremely negative emotional experience(s) in my life. Possible. One can't rule it out.

I think a major part of my fear of the reptile was passed down to me from my mother. Watching her almost bring the house down when a lizard was either on the wall, floor or behind the cleaning supplies, must have reinforced an extremely negative perception of the harmless thing.

Then on seeing larger versions of it, the fear only compounded itself. Followed by harmless jokes and chiding from friends, made me internalise it further, until it dissolved into my very psyche.

Understanding this, helped me see how deep the rabbit hole can really go. From this branches and roots take form, mutating into other irrational fears, until finally, the real reason for fearing a reason is no longer visible and the lizard becomes the innocent recipient of repulsion, hate and disgust.

I'm only looking at the branches right now. If I have to get to the roots, I've got to start cutting faster. The lizard now presents itself as a reminder of the unfinished business I have inside.

For the most part, I'll probably prefer if the actual reptile and I mutually acknowledge our differences and stay a good distance from each other. Otherwise, I must say, that whenever I have encountered it, my mind immediately brings something I need to deal with to the surface.

If I can continue to look at it positively, I'm looking at making peace with this creature and not have it pop up when I least expect it. I just need to 'remove the risk, and the lizard brain goes back to sleep'.

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