The Fear and the Love and Why I Hate That Damn Lizard Brain
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” – Marianne Williamson
Last month, I had a call with a book editor. I met her two years ago at a nonprofit conference where I was speaking. After my speech, she came up to me and gave me her card. Asked me I’d ever thought about writing a book. In my mind I was screaming, “I’m a writer, of course I’ve thought about writing a book! It’s the first thing on my bucket list!” I don’t think I said that to her, though. She told me she’d be back in town later in the year and to keep in touch.
I never did contact her.
At the time, I’d only been blogging professionally for a year. I couldn’t believe that someone might seriously want to talk to me about writing a book. Who did I think I was? I was 25 years old. What could I possibly have to say that would fill an entire book that anyone would ever buy? I convinced myself that there was no point in staying in touch with this crazy book woman. Instead, I kept her card on my desk as a reminder of the possibility that one day, someone might think I was awesome enough to write a book.
I was too afraid to believe that I already was.
Fast forward two years later and me and the book editor paths cross again. This time, it’s the announcement of my new blog on the Chronicle of Philathropy website, Leading Edge. She emails to congratulate me and suggests we schedule a conversation to talk about book ideas. Book ideas!
This time, I’m elated. After blogging for three years, I now have enough evidence to convince myself that people really do want to hear what I have to say. And last year, I even began working on my own book project, tentatively titled Getting from Entry Level to Leadership: 50 Ways to Accelerate Your Nonprofit Career. The first concise guide of its kind, the book will weave an inspiring path for young professionals who want to build meaningful and rewarding nonprofit careers.
But the thing is, I didn’t really tell anyone I was writing the book. I just wrote a little blurb about it and put it on my blog. Very few people noticed it. Except the universe. The universe notices everything. Once I finally put finger to keys and started writing the damn thing, the universe has been moving in all kinds of amazing ways for me. And for that I’m incredibly grateful. It’s time to face my big dreams, even when it’s easier not to. It’s easier to be afraid and unsure of myself. It’s easier to suffer from Imposter Syndrome.
Fear is easy.
That’s why there are so many decisions we make out of fear. Lizard brain choices. Seth Godin describes the lizard brain this way:
We say we want one thing, then we do another. We say we want to be successful but we sabotage the job interview. We say we want a product to come to market, but we sandbag the shipping schedule. We say we want to be thin but we eat too much. We say we want to be smart but we skip class or don’t read that book the boss lent us.
The contradictions never end. When someone shows up and acts without contradiction, we’re amazed. When an athlete just does the sport, or when a writer just writes the words, we can’t help but watch, astonished at the purity of their actions. Why is it so difficult to do what we say we’re going to do?
The lizard brain.
See? That’s why I hate that damn lizard brain. It’s the epicenter of fear. Because when we listen to the lizard brain, we make the kind of choices that lead us on a path away from our big dreams. These days, I’m much more interested in how we can move toward them. I’m interested in how we can push past that fear into the kind of love that reminds us of who we really are. The kind of love that can change our lives…if we let it.
Love is hard.
Loving ourselves enough to face our big dreams is even harder. The lizard brain is amazingly powerful. I mean, just think about your life right now. Are you making most of your choices out of fear or out of love? Do you ever wonder how much more awesome it would be if you finally took the plunge and did the thing you’ve always wanted to do?
I want you to believe me but more than that I want you to believe in yourself. The world is yours if you want it. I know – everyone has to get there on their own time. But what I’ve come to find out is that if you take the first step, everything else falls into place. I just finished the book proposal and I’m so excited about the possibilities it could open up for me.
When you let go of the fear, the love will come after you.
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