#005 WHAT DOES THE LIZARD BRAIN MEAN

  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • #005 WHAT DOES THE LIZARD BRAIN MEAN

Last updated on May 18, 2021

Let’s start with a question.  With which of these do you most identify?  A.  You have some questions about whether your child's symptoms of picky eating, feeding refusal, and vomiting are all due to reflux.  You think that your child has reflux, but you also wonder, "Is there a secondary disease process?"  B.  You have a young child with all kinds of symptoms, and the thought of it being reflux has not even crossed your mind.  You have concerns about vomiting, feeding challenges, and lots of crying, but you don’t know what these symptoms mean  C.  You have a diagnosis - or almost have a diagnosis - for your child.  This diagnosis can give you many of the symptoms that your baby is showing,  but you’re not exactly sure what to do next or where to turn.  Which is it?  A, B, or C? A combination of two?  All three?

I’m here to tell you that no matter which of these describes you best,  what I am about to share also applies to you.  Everyone of us experiences confusion and fear. These emotions can be part of our brains.  I imagine these emotions are emojis.  For instance, when I think of fear, I imagine a fear emoji.  However, not all people think about fear and imagine an emoji.  Some people refer to the fear emotion as being part of the brain.   They call it part of the lizard brain.   I say “lizard” in quotation marks.  In reality, lizards have many of the same brain structures that we have except that ours are bigger, and we don’t actually have lizard brains that are responsible for the fear or some of our other less-than-pleasant emotions.   Our emotional responses are generated within multiple structures of the brain - not just the structures in the brain near the neck.  However, for the purposes of visualization, it’s good to think of this internal voice that is fearful as something that we can actually see!  Whether it be a lizard or a fear emoji!  It's easier to talk to and visualize a lizard or an emoji than an entire brain and all of its neurocircuitry. 

Today I want to talk to you about struggling through some of these negative emotions such as fear.  No matter how you would describe your situation, there’s gotta be at least a little bit of fear going on… 

No matter whether your fear is based upon not knowing if your child is getting enough nutrition,  is about to have another reaction to food, or has some major diagnosis that you just can’t seem to be able to figure out, the fear is there.   It's not the subject that seems to matter the most when it comes to fear.  We all experience fear.  What  seems to matter more with fear is what you do with it. 

Some of the most successful stories regarding how caregivers helped their young children’s "reflux-y" challenges went something like this.   The caregivers acknowledged the fear and did an action anyway. They saw that fear for what it is - knowing that it’s just part of your brain - and decided to befriend it.    They acknowledged it.  They talked soothingly to it with other areas of their brains.    Then with that fear fully present, they did what they needed to do most for them and their children at that moment.  They acknowledged the fear and then did the action anyway.  

On the Doctor Evka platform, you will hear stories about fear in the lives of a caregivers with a children who have "reflux-y" symptoms.    You’ll hear how caregivers knew that there was fear but they did what they needed to do anyway. Now, while you listen, I don’t want you to just be listening.  No way!  Let’s make this more interactive for you.  Try to imagine yourself in the shoes of those whose stories I share.  I want you to see the similarities in these stories.  Within these stories, the same themes  come up over and over again. Can you guess what those are?  

The caregiver often says,  “Hey!  I have fear…. It’s so normal for what is happening… but I’m going to take the next step.  I’m going to do what I need to do on my end to get closer to these feeding-related goals, and of course, there’s going to be some level of fear.  Yes, of course, I know that I won’t be able to control everything, and I will be afraid. For one, I can’t really control my child.  I can only do the best that I can, and I am going to do that despite the fear.

How about you?  What do you tell yourself when you encounter fear?  Sometimes, when we are afraid, we can deny that the situation exists.  In doing so, we are getting past what is bothering us.   We are just ignoring it.  We can't necessarily make our challenges magically just go away by ignoring them.  In fact, if we ignore them, we might wind up in the opposite predicament:  our concerns getting worse.  

Often time, to conquer life's challenges, we have to live with the fear.   We have to allow that emotion into our lives.  We have to acknowledge that fear, talk to it, and then do the fearful action anyway... especially if we know that the action is for the best.  Think about that?  Be mindful what you do when you next encounter fear.  Do you live with it, or do you try to run away?  

Three "legal" things:  First, either a male or a female could consider themselves to be a mother.  My job is to serve and not to judge.  Second, although I am a family physician, I am not your doctor or therapist.   Please see your and your child's doctor.  Third, the information presented here is for educational purposes only.  It does not constitute professional medical advice. 

>