After more than a decade of being a recovering lawyer, I have finally caught on to a few of my inner lizard, Guido’s, methods of operation. I’ve learned how to (mostly) ignore his various iterations of “you’re not enough:”
- That’s a stupid idea (you’re not smart enough);
- Someone else has written about this already (you’re not original enough);
- You don’t know what you’re talking about (another version of you’re not smart enough);
- You’re just whining, life isn’t as hard as you’re making it out to be (you’re not tough enough).
At the very least, I now recognize Guido’s voice for what it is, even if it gets up my left nostril. But one M.O. that I’ve only gotten savvy to in the last few years is the Lack Blitzkrieg.
When Inner Lizards Attack
I’m quite sure I experienced the Lack Blitzkrieg many times before, but the first time I recognized it for what it was happened on my way to life coach training. For various insane reasons, I opted to drive the 500-odd miles. I literally almost turned around at least twice: I was going to be getting there too late, and have to wake up my BigLaw friends with the toddler when I finally rolled into D.C. Great guest behavior, your friends will hate you. And, Guido continued convincingly, what was the point, even with training I wouldn’t have enough capital to start the business. The only thing that kept me driving was the substantial chunk of change I had paid in registration and hotel fees. Couldn’t throw that away, could I?
During and after the first half-day of training, I was a wreck. I was never, ever going to be able to do this. I didn’t have the right instincts. Everyone else in the class was better at this than me. Everyone else was emotionally braver than me. Everyone else was more enlightened than me. No one was more screwed up than me. Even with instruction, I couldn’t think what to ask next when we practiced various coaching skills. Great, a mute coach, that was going to work well. I had wasted money I didn’t really have, apparently so I could be a huge, honking failure. Those are only a small percentage of the lack thoughts that pounded at me for hours.
Fortunately I had read some of my training materials beforehand. They talked about how when your client is on the verge of something big and momentous, the gremlin, aka inner lizard, often shows up with a monstrous splash. I now call it a Lack Blitzkrieg.
The Lack Blitzkrieg is a close sibling to Point Blink, but the dynamics are a bit different. In a Point Blink moment, you back away from action that your true self knows is your right path. A Lack Blitzkrieg, on the other hand, happens shortly after you’ve courageously decided to pursue that right path. It’s easy to recognize, because it is a full-on assault of every doubt you’ve ever had about yourself. Your inner lizard pulls out all the stops. After all, its very survival is on the line.
Withstanding the Assault
Withstanding a Lack Blitzkrieg is simple, but not easy: You need to hold fast to your faith. Tell yourself, mantra-like, “These fears are not reality. I am going to continue walking this path. This path is my right course.”
Yes, it sounds all airy-fairy. But it’s the only thing I’ve tried that works. You can’t logic your way through a problem of the heart and soul.
You may be tempted to ask your friends or family for help through this difficult stage. Be very, very cautious about doing so. What we tend to do is ask precisely the people that our inner lizard knows will amp up its crescendo of negativity and lack, so that we leave the path.
It’s also very tempting to try to self-soothe in the midst of a Lack Blitzkrieg. As long as that soothing and comforting allows you to stay on your path, that’s great. Just remember the point is not to feel better, it is to keep moving forward. If you start getting distracted by the soothing and stop walking on your path, ditch the soothing and start moving again. Lean into the discomfort, as Brené Brown talks about.
As Martha Beck points out, your soul is only imprisoned when it is silenced. People around you—people you love and respect, people you answer to at work, random people on the street—may not approve of your soul’s true path. That will hurt. But, as Beck says, that hurt will heal. And then, your heart and soul will be where they need to be for you to shine and prosper.
Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who helps unhappy attorneys through their Lack Blitzkriegs and Point Blinks. She offers discounted sample coaching sessions, to see if coaching can help you through your own career doubts. Contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your sample session today.