Using the Lizard Image

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The Lizard is, of course, a metaphor, a model.  It’s a way of looking at the part of all of us that manages safety and trust.  My primary article on the Lizard was written after I detailed all it’s components and had tested teaching the material with perhaps two hundred couples.  I think this is a great and useful model.  I’ve heard often of people using the Lizard in their teaching and in their lives. I’m very glad this has been useful to so many.

Below is a letter I received recently that touched me deeply.  I’ve left the original names in it so please be respectful. Enjoy.

Dear Al,  

When Laura Lavigne was my life coach several years ago, Laura shared your work on the Lizard. I  am writing to thank you, since I’m not able to attend your workshop this Saturday.  Your paper on The  Lizard is on my desktop for easy access.  Knowledge of the Lizard has been meaningful to me in many  ways, but I must tell you how it changed nurses, doctors and physical therapists in Las Vegas, Nevada, in  2013.   

My sister at age 63 had fallen into a coma after a simple facelift procedure.  When she  eventually returned to consciousness, she was very different.  I found her in the hospital failing to thrive.  She was difficult to manage. She wouldn’t eat. She screamed in excruciating pain whenever she was  touched.  She was incredibly paranoid and angry.  She had exhausted the doctors’ and nurses’ patience.   They tried to reason with her, but she was unresponsive to their requests.  

As I studied her behavior, I recognized that her conscious brain had been replaced by the Lizard  in full Flight or Fight mode.  I began to approach her in child like ways. By simplifying my language,  talking softly, feeding her, reassuring her and encouraging her to accept my touch with the application  of lotion on her arms and legs she began to respond.   I cornered her nurses and doctors as they came  into the room and explained what I perceived had happened.   They got it!  They gave me full rein.  

In a matter of twelve hours, she had improved enough to be moved to a rehabilitation facility  across the street.  Again, I found myself having to educate the doctors and nurses about the Lizard.   When I arrived one morning, I heard that she had refused physical therapy.  [On Medicare, if one refuses  three times, the facility is not obligated to provide it.  Sad, but true.]  I raced to their office to explain the  Lizard story to the PT folks.  She desperately needed physical AND occupational therapy.  She was in no  condition to make any decisions at that time.  She couldn’t feed herself much less hold a fork. She  couldn’t sit up. She couldn’t walk or toilet herself.  She needed to learn how to do everything again.   

A speech therapist sitting nearby overheard my story and volunteered to help her learn to eat.  This angel of a man encouraged his PT team mates to forgive her first refusal and begin a different  protocol….. a protocol based on a much simpler, primary level.  Progress ensued.  In two months, her  conscious brain was back in control.  Her sense of humor began to emerge. She began to feed herself, to  ask for help and to smile.  The Lizard receded.  JoJo was with us once again.  

I have wanted to sit down and tell you this story face to face, but my care giving duties for my  husband once again prevents me from meeting with you this weekend.  Laura suggested I write my story  and she has agreed to forward it to you.  

Thank you for sharing the Lizard with us.  Thank you for giving me the language to speak to the  medical team in a way they could understand.  Thank you for giving my family my sister back for an  additional four months before her passing.  I am ever grateful.      CHEERS!     Jan Taylor




Using the Lizard Image — 2 Comments

  1. Pingback: A man named Turtle and his excellent website – Al Turtle’s Relationship Wisdom – The Self-Help Whisperer

  2. Hi Al

    My Name is Sumeeth and I feel really depressed and confused at this moment. My wife and I have been married for almost 3 years now and during this time she has left me to go back to her parents for more that 5 time now. When she feels that she can’t take it anymore she calls her dad and then she goes however this time she has went and she say she is considering a divorce as she is tired of us arguing and with me have contact with other females (which I work with) and with me always putting my parents as “priority”. We have a beautiful baby girl who is 2 years now and I feel really sorry for as she is going to be really affected by our actions.

    My wife is a person who hates me having any contact with female even if its work related, to her it means I have something to do with them other than work as she knows I’m a friendly person and she thinks that I would proberbly cheat on her with them because she has a low self esteem about herself.

    I always tell her that I won’t do that as I love her and her only and I would never to anything of that as I wouldn’t have chosen her if I wanted to do that. She also feel that every finance decision needs to be comunicated to her even if its a mere cool drink that I may buy and tell me that she has the right to know. Yes I do tell her but after I buy the stuff and that’s only because I don’t think it would be a problem but lately that is becoming a huge issue and I’m not sure if that’s the real issue or if she was looking for something to make a problem so that she can leave?

    I really love my wife and I’m really missing her allot and my baby girl as well and all I want I’d for us to be happy as a family without unnecessary issues which becomes problems. I never beg her to come back as in the past that’s what I used to do and she would come back but I want the arguements to slow down as that really robbes us from spending quality time together.

    Please can you help me with dealing with this situation as to whether I should run after her or stand my ground show her that all needs to stop. But in doing so do you think that she will drift away and I will be making her decision more easier to file for a divorce as she will be seeing that I am not worried about her? Please help me as I am very depressed and feeling down and out.

    Thank you for your assistance

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