This week I found myself wandering from one room to the next, and as I wandered into the living room, I kind of ‘came to’ and wondered what I was doing. Was I looking for something? Was I going somewhere? Was I going to tell someone something important? Maybe it was lunchtime. . . but why was my heart beating fast and a slew of fragmented thoughts running through my mind?
That’s when I realized I had just gotten hijacked - I was in the lizard brain!
Before I became lost in my own house, I had just read about security violations and a new term in our global vocabulary – Zoombombing. And before that, emails with messaging around ‘better act fast to secure a PPP or EIDL loan before federal funding is gone’ and a picture of empty streets in London with the death toll ticker underneath. No wonder I was wandering around in a daze – my nervous system was on overload. Can you relate?
This is a state many of us are visiting right now. It makes it really hard to navigate new territory if a lizard is driving your brain.
So, how can you tell if you’ve been hijacked by this ancient nervous system survival mechanism? Here are some clues:
- Everything looks scary.
- You believe all your scary thoughts.
- Everything is urgent and LEVEL 10.
- There’s evidence of half-finished tasks wherever you look.
- You’re irritable with the people around you and the ones on your screen.
- Thinking is fuzzy, jumps around and operates in either/or mode (good/bad, black/white).
- Scarcity mindset is LARGE AND IN CHARGE (toilet paper, need I say more?)
As my dear friend Byron Katie says: we fear what we believe will happen, not what will happen. (read that twice, it’s really good)
So what’s the opposite of the hijacked brain you ask? Well, it’s the resourced state of heart and mind. It looks like this:
- The ability to see multiple perspectives.
- Awareness of your emotions and their impact on your body and behavior.
- Knowing when you need a time out or asking for what you need.
- Curiosity and spaciousness.
- Calm mind, calm body.
- The ability to prioritize and make choices from a grounded place (not LEVEL 10).
- Seeing the people around you and the ones on the screen through the lens of “they’re doing the best they can right now” (aka compassion).
Back to the wandering fog I was in. Those symptoms told me I needed to find myself in the present moment. I took a deep breath, put on my running shoes and took a walk around the block while tracking the colors of trees, the shape and scent of flowers I passed, the sounds of hammering somewhere nearby, and the feel of the ground under my feet, and could slowly feel myself returning. I wasn’t trying to figure anything out in that moment – just taking in my surroundings and being.
It certainly isn’t always easy to resource once the reptile has the keys to your bus. In fact being in an activated state is one of my biggest pet peeves about the current human model we’re walking around in. But until we evolve out of it, we’ve got to learn how to work with it.