Day 5: How To Be Helpful by Bob Newhart (and Martha Beck)

My friend Jessica is a life coach and I have been part of her coaching sessions for more than two years. Thanks to her sessions, I have learned the proper tools to help deal with the existing issues I had, as well as to tackle any of life’s problems that has come at me since. I have also gained an amazing support network where I can reach out for help if I should need it.

One of the resources we used during the sessions was Martha Beck book’s Steering By Starlight. The book is a great resource that provides sound advice, simple exercises and witty anecdotes. If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend that you do.

One thing that Martha tackles in her book is how to calm our lizard brain. Our lizard is located deep inside our brain and provides us with survival alerts when we’re faced with danger. These warnings were really helpful back when we were hunter gathers and somehow, they’ve stayed with us ever since.

Now, I know what I’m saying may sound weird but before you dismiss it, this theory was coined by neuroscientists in the 1970s and it still holds a lot of truth. You can read more about the lizard brain in this well-written article here.

Our lizard brain is that part of us that tells us negative thoughts. We all have them. You may think that this voice is keeping you safe but it’s actually holding you back. This has nothing to do with a gut feeling where you might be in actual danger; this has to do with the fears that creep up on you when you’re contemplating big decisions. It may tell you that you’re too old to go back to school, that you can’t take that dream vacation, that your can’t quit your boring job and do what you want to do, etc. That voice can be very hurtful and it can prevent you from achieving your goals.

In her book, Martha teaches us how to calm our overactive lizard brain. What we have to do is to acknowledge it and say to it, “OK, lizard, I hear ya. Now, go back to sleep.” Sometimes that works. But sometimes it doesn’t, and you need to be firm and tell it to shut up. This is where Bob Newhart steps in.

Jessica played this video during one of our sessions and it cracked us up. Because the idea behind “Stop it” applies to our lizard brain yapping its head off to tell you that you can’t do something. You have to be like Bob and say, “stop it”.

So, the next time your lizard tells you that you can’t, just tell it to “stop it.”

Go ahead and try it. Trust me, it works.