The other day I was sitting at my desk deep in concentration on a project when a rustling sound entered into my awareness - a consistent rustling coming from inside the house.
Full disclosure: I do live in the desert and have had mice in my space over the years and even the occasional woodrat has breached the premises. I am NOT a fan and usually need to get outside help and support when these creatures appear.
So - needless to say my concentration was shot and my eyes were pulled directly to the corner that was the source of the rustling. It was persistent. And loud. My mind went towards thinking it must be larger than a mouse. I moved from my desk chair into my bedroom to hide and escape. I did NOT want to deal with this or face it.
When I finally got up the nerve to poke my head back out the rustling had ceased so I cautiously approached the corner ready to jump or scream if something furry popped out. What I saw appeared to be a trailing of dirt. Oh no! Only something large could make that mess! But upon closer inspection I discovered a LIZARD! Whew - hallelujah!
I opened the door he was closest to and proceeded to sit on the couch and observe. He was quick! And he ran in the OPPOSITE direction. Oh no - what to do? Well, if you’re me and you’re skittish, you continue to sit on the couch and observe.
He stayed away from his escape route darting to and fro eventually coming to rest behind the bookshelf with his head cautiously peeking out. I waited. The lizard waited. Eventually it made it’s way back toward the door but did not escape. It just stood there with it’s nose pointing out the crack under the door - but not making it’s move. I waited. The lizard waited. I waited. Several minutes passed as I thought about helping him along the way and moving the door a bit more for him. I was afraid I’d scare him back across the room though. Eventually he ducked under and was back out into the big wide open air.
So what lessons can we take away from this lizard encounter?
7 Lessons from a Lizard
The problem isn’t always what you think it is.
Case in point: I was freaking out that I had a mouse in the house when in fact it was only a scared lizard. Often in our lives we look at something and view it from the lens of our conscious mind when in fact there is a problem/issue/behavior/pattern that is operating in the background on a subconscious level. Remember to ask yourself: What else may be going on here? What might be driving the problem as I see it? You may be surprised to find that the problem at hand isn’t as big as you think it is - or even something altogether different!
Our fears grow in direct proportion to the attention we place on them.
As I sat there wondering what the sound was I became more and more afraid that it was a mouse or something larger. I was obsessed with the sound - but I was only paying attention to the sound. I was not facing the problem and facing my fear.
Hiding from the problem at hand only keeps us stuck.
Hiding out in my bedroom and not addressing the rustling only served to increase my level of anxiety as I wondered what type of creature I was dealing with.
Sometimes staying stuck seems easier, safer, less stressful than facing reality full on. Let me tell you though, my anxiety increased the longer I stayed hidden as my curiosity conjured up all sorts of scenarios for what was going on in my house. If you find yourself doing this, ask yourself: How am I holding myself back by staying stuck? If I come out of hiding, what is possible once I move beyond the problem at hand?
Running from the problem doesn’t work either.
Once the door was opened, the poor lizard was so afraid he ran the opposite direction.
We all know people who run the other way from their problems only to slowly retrace their steps. This is the longer, less direct path to getting where you want to go!
Facing our fears head on takes courage.
The lizard was at the door for a long time before taking the leap to duck under and head out to freedom. He clearly wasn’t certain if the air he was breathing was truly on the outside. He built up his courage and then took the leap.
“Helping” others may only serve to push them further from their goal. Opening the pathways to expanded possibilities and allowing them to cross the threshold on their own is more empowering.
If I had jumped up after several minutes and tried to open the door further there was the possibility of sending the lizard backwards. He could also have ducked out way more quickly. Allowing him the opportunity to build his courage and do it on his own was more empowering and allowed him to take the step toward forward momentum and get out of my house!
Pushing past fear opens up our world and reduces our feeling of anxiety and stress.
Once I came out of hiding and inspected what was really going on I was able to sit back and watch the lizard as my anxiety and stress levels decreased. I can only imagine that once the lizard ducked under the door he too felt better to be back into the big wide open world. Once we push past the fear in our lives we are able to feel excitement and relief rather than stress and anxiety.
Food for Thought:
I encourage us all to live boldly and follow the path of the lizard.
Cross the threshold and open up to the possibilities that await us.
Coach - Speaker