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How the Lizard Brain Influences Negative Self-Talk and the Power of Gratitude Journals

Updated: May 8

Understanding the Lizard Brain

At the core of our being lies a primitive part of our brain, often termed the "lizard brain". This component, also known as the amygdala, is responsible for our most basic survival instincts like fear and aggression. In the modern world, where physical threats are less imminent, this part of the brain frequently manifests in less helpful ways, often leading to negative self-talk.

Negative self-talk is a byproduct of the lizard brain perceiving threats where there are none. It's that little voice inside your head that says, "You can't do this," or "You're not good enough." This is your primal brain trying to protect you from harm, but in doing so, it often holds you back.

The Consequences of Negative Self-Talk

This kind of internal dialogue can have a profound impact on your mental health and overall well-being. It can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and even depression. It can also stifle your growth, both personally and professionally, by creating a mindset that avoids risks and resists change.

The Power of a Gratitude Journal

The good news is that you can retrain your brain to manage these instinctive responses better. One effective tool in this journey is the practice of keeping a gratitude journal.

A gratitude journal is a simple, yet powerful tool. By regularly writing down things for which you're grateful, you're training your brain to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This practice helps in rewiring your brain to move away from negative self-talk.

Here’s how it works:

1. Shifts Focus: Instead of fixating on fears and failures, gratitude centers your mind on your achievements and the good things in your life.

2. Reduces Stress: By acknowledging the positive, your body reduces the production of stress hormones like cortisol.

3. Enhances Self-Esteem: Regularly recognizing your own achievements and the beauty in your life naturally boosts your self-esteem.

4. Improves Sleep: A positive mindset can contribute to better sleep, as you're less likely to ruminate on negative thoughts at night.

5. Reprograms the Mind: Engaging in daily gratitude journaling and writing down three things you are grateful for each day can slowly reprogram your mind. Over time, this consistent practice alters your brain's default response, moving it away from negative, self-critical thoughts to a more positive and appreciative outlook. This mental shift is a powerful testament to the brain's plasticity and its ability to adapt to new, healthier patterns of thinking.

Getting Started with Your Gratitude Journal

Starting a gratitude journal is easy. All you need is a notebook and a few minutes each day. Write down three things you're grateful for each day. These can be as simple as a beautiful sunrise or as significant as a personal achievement.


While the lizard brain can lead us down the path of negative self-talk, it’s important to remember that we have the power to change this narrative. By incorporating self-care practices like gratitude journaling into our daily routines, we can shift our mindset from negative to neutral or even positive. This simple act of focusing on what's good in our life can be profoundly transformative, leading to greater happiness, reduced stress, and a more fulfilling life.

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