Meet Huey. Huey is a rattlesnake. Huey is what Martha Beck calls an Inner Lizard, and he is my inner lizard to be exact. An inner lizard is the part of you that “speaks” with the voice of your Reptilian Brain. The reptilian part of your brain evolved around 500 million years ago in all modern animals’ common ancestor, and it is found in the brains of all animals. The Reptilian Brain is the deepest part of the human brain. It is responsible for unconscious acts such as breathing, the heartbeat, swallowing, etc. It is also the home of fears of “lack and attack” and the fight, flight or freeze response to fear.
The Reptilian Brain is a wonderful part of the brain to have. It is what keeps us alive! However, its responses to lack and attack are not as helpful for humans living in modern society as it is for an animal out in the wild. For example, for an animal out in the wild a lack of food can be a reality that justifies a fight, flight or freeze reaction. For humans in modern society, a perceived lack of food is more likely to involve resisting eating an entire packet of Oreos. Resisting eating an entire packet of Oreos is not a lack fear that justifies the fight, flight or freeze response, but our Reptilian Brain does not know the difference between the actual lack fear of starving to death and the lack fear of denying ourselves the entire packet of Oreos. Picturing, naming, acknowledging and comforting your inner lizard is a powerful way to avert the physical, emotional and mental stress brought on by the fight, flight or freeze response.
It is significant both to me and to the realities of most humans’ Reptilian Brain fears that Huey insisted on being a rattlesnake:
- Lizard fears (such as: I’m not making enough money! I don’t have enough time! My fiancé is angry with me!) give off vibrations into the world that myself and others can feel and react to. Such vibrations are not ideal for happy, healthy relationships, business, etc. Similarly, rattlesnakes respond to vibrations in the ground by attempting to flee them. If they cannot get away from the vibrations, they curl up and rattle their tail as a warning before striking. How Huey responds to my lizard fear vibrations on his “ground” is how other people and the universe as a whole react to me if those vibrations are my primary gift to the universe.
- If you know me, you know that a horse is my animal, my spirit guide, my totem animal, however you’d like to think of it. Significantly, I learned AFTER Huey asserted himself as a rattlesnake that snake bites are even rarer in horses than they are in
humans. To smash this point home, I had a dream recently that I was going to see my horse, Uno. I went to the turnout where he spends most of his time, entered the stall attached to the turn out, turned into the stall after closing the door to see Uno standing in the turn out completely unconcerned and completely surrounded by rattle snakes. I froze, terrified. All of the once napping rattle snakes began curling up and rattling their tails. I grew even more frightened. Uno remained standing among them, resting a hind leg. He turned his head to me knowingly and took a deep breath. I found the horse in me automatically doing the same, disengaging my freeze reaction. The rattlesnakes immediately ceased rattling and spread out to sun bath once more. Moral of the dream, when I am my Authentic, inner horse self, Huey feels safe to sun bath. When I am my more “human” self, I am more likely to worry him with my fear vibrations.
What is your inner lizard’s name? What does it look like? What are some of its most common worries? What messages does your inner lizard’s name, appearance and worries have for you?
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