The Mental Shift: “From Lizard to Wizard”

Vital Shifts: Part Four in a Series of Five

This series exams how shifts in consciousness impact various key aspects of our lives.

I am an old man now and have had a great many problems. Most of them never happened.  Mark Twain

The mind is the most powerful tool we have to shift our experience of reality and to increase our vitality. This is true, and yet does this mean it is wise to change your mind, open your mind, expand your mind or leave your mind (as one writer put it, “sometimes the mind is like a bad neighborhood and you just have to leave it”)? It’s all enough to make you lose your mind. I’d like to offer an analogy that I have found really helpful in making sense of our minds: the mind as theater, which comes from David Rock in his excellent book, Your Brain at Work.

Brains audienceThink of your mind as a theater production. Your everyday awareness is what is playing on stage. There is an audience watching the play that is full of actors, many of whom are eager to jump on stage. This audience is your subconscious mind. This is a band of wired, wild and shy folks, many of whom are certain they need to rush the stage to say their parts: there is the hurt child; the victimized adult at work; the wild adventurer who wants to run away; the stern inner-critic. And then there are the talented, helpful characters who often defer to the bossy ones and stay in their seats: the shy, wise one; the peaceful and playful ones; the relaxed and imaginative characters.

Offstage is the director, the choosing part of your conscious mind. The poor director has taken on a huge task in trying to manage this unruly production. When the director is weak, the crazy characters run the show. When the director takes charge there is clear command of who can and cannot take the stage. There is clarity about where this production is going, there is a strong plot, and the key lines are delivered powerfully. When my director is strong, I find myself exercising more, going to bed on time, getting my priority tasks done first. When my director is weak so are my efforts around exercise, bedtime and important tasks.

Life coach and author, Martha Beck, says that our mental journey is that of moving from lizard to wizard, from scared and reactive to wise and mentally magical.  The key to this shift is thinking about our thinking. The task with this shift is to choose life-giving thoughts and actions, and to be both compassionate and clear, to ourselves and to others, when the crazy characters come into our minds or our lives.

Exercise that leads to the Mental Shift: Choosing your life-giving story. Become aware of the negative, critical, abusive story that you tell yourself about yourself. Write down the characters, the lies, and the experiences that have given birth to and make up this destructive story in your life. In contrast, there is a beautiful story that is true and will change your life if you embrace it more and more. Write down the characters, the truths and the experiences that describe and breathe life into your beautiful story. When the old story surfaces in your mind, intentionally counter it with your new story. By telling yourself this new story over and over you will rewire your brain, empower your strong director, and shift your mind and your life from lizard to wizard.

Categories Brain shifts, Productivity, Thriving, Vitality | Tags: | Posted on September 15, 2013

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