DEV Community

Cover image for Silencing the lizard brain
Michael Lee πŸ•
Michael Lee πŸ•

Posted on

Silencing the lizard brain

Cover photo credit: Nandhu Kumar

Seth Godin describes a phenomenon of what happens when someone gets close to shipping something. He calls it the lizard brain or plainly, the resistance. The lizard brain is what often sabotages a project. It tells you to slow down, be careful or back off.

And it’s something I’ve been dealing with lately. There’s a project that I’ve been thinking about for about two years. Two years ago when I came up with the idea, I got really amped about it. I told my wife about it, I told my friends about it, I even worked on it for a few days and then the lizard brain came in and it fizzled. I don’t even remember why I stopped but I stopped.

Recently the idea popped into my head again and for some reason I’ve felt compelled to pursue it again. Again I told my wife and I told a different set of friends about it. My wife rolled her eyes, my friends think it’s a great idea and I’m off to building it.

But as the days go by, and as I chip away at the idea, I noticed the lizard brain is starting to kick in again. I have been dealing with the fear of what if it actually works? I’ve been focusing on the hypothetical and trying to think through so many future scenarios that my brain can’t possibly understand. This sort of thinking actually almost left me paralyzed in fear to keep working on it again.

I spent 15 minutes working on it tonight and that silenced the lizard brain. I think being in the state of concentration of working on the project was good for silencing the lizard brain temporarily. I’m now at a place where I’d like to get to shipped faster in order to subdue the lizard brain. The more I let the project drag out the easier it is for the lizard brain to get louder.

Have you dealt with lizard brain before? If so, how did you go about silencing it?

Originally posted on

Thanks for taking the time to read this article! I'd love to stay in contact and send you tips on programming and design and making side projects through my newsletter. Click here to sign up.

Top comments (4)

pbouillon profile image
Pierre Bouillon

Gosh, this is so relatable.

I had this a couple of time (and still have for some projects). Usually I take a break from it: if I am not able to do it with passion then I should probably not make it (speaking for personal projects of course).

Eventually I come back to it after improving my skills on various subjects and I'm feeling way more confident and keen to finish it.

The best way I found, for me, to overcome the lizard brain is to work in team: no matter if I'm down or not, I'll never let my teammates down too and I'll urge myself to help them, whether should it be by coding or managing the project.

michael profile image
Michael Lee πŸ•

That’s a great tip Pierre! Accountability is definitely a great motivator to see something to completion.

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

Never heard this term before, but I no longer feel alone in this sensation!

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Damn, this definitely made me aware of a few lizard brain thoughts in my life right now.

Thanks for the kick in the pants.