Now that I have said, “get the courage” and behaved like a PR person for the Nike commercial, “Just Do It!”, it is time to talk about why we don’t change, even when we know to stay stuck will suck the life out of us.
Thank God for that “lizard brain” of ours. Technically, it is called the amygdala or pre-frontal cortex. I want you to know this because it is like the beauty and the beast. We would die without it and yet, if not understood, we will die without ever really living. I am going to give you the short version, and hope that Google will do the rest.
Change is scary for human beings in general, and more so for some of us. We love the warm comfort of the familiar, even when there is a big old world out there screaming for us to take a bite. A little like turtles, we poke our heads out when we think it is safe, take a peek around. The moment we hear or see something, back in we go. This is called self-preservation and it is not a bad thing. Our gratitude to the “lizard brain” for keeping us safe! It keeps us from running in front of cars, burning ourselves and if we are lucky, from dying because we are texting and driving!
Bless that lizard, it also over-functions at times. Sometimes the world is safe enough for us to come out, leave our shell behind and take a chance, but that poor creature just won’t give it up. And so, our higher brain must now take the reins, or perhaps the remote and tell us we won’t die if we take a chance. That does not come with a guarantee that we won’t make errors in judgment, will get what we want when we want it, or that we won’t have our hearts broken. Alas, that is the down side.
When we are looking backward at our lives, seeing only our mistakes, feeling only our regrets, it often feels like we failed somehow. Missed opportunities, relationships that might have been if we had but….children we might have had if we had…. can haunt us. We forget that there were at the time a myriad of reasons, circumstances and things happening within us and outside us that may have been the “director” on the set of our lives.
Be kind to yourself about past decisions and actions and remember something that is always true about you…”if you coulda, you woulda…” And now, you have opportunities to make very different decisions because you are in charge of your life. Thank that “lizard” every day, but remind it to take a vacation once in awhile!