Is “Critter Brain” holding you back from the life you deserve?

I’m sitting here on a plane to Denver, getting ready to celebrate two wonderful people say, “I do,” and I noticed a word document titled, “Critter Brain” saved on my desktop. I opened it to see the below blog post I wrote in the beginning of June reflecting on the month of May. The Funny thing is, as I read this, I realized my own words were exactly what I needed to hear. So, although it’s a few weeks late, I’m hoping this post inspires you at the level it (re)inspired me. Enjoy, friends.

May was a great month of growth for me.

I made some decisions that really put myself out there in my personal space and in my business, my husband and I finally moved into a place of our own, and I started to prioritize gratitude over anything else.

I know that life can be crazy, hectic, and chaotic. We throw around the word “busy” far too often – usually as an attempt to claim a higher social status or an excuse to get out of doing things you don’t want to do. We’re applauded and praised for working longer days and more hours per week. Taking vacations is almost impossible to do without a touch of guilt and a boat load of anxiety for everything you’ve left behind. And the things that we say we’re working for, keep getting pushed further and further back.

I made a decision about two months ago at a coaching conference to go all in with myself. To trust myself, believe in myself, and know, without a doubt, that I am deserving, worthy, and enough, just as I am, to have all of the goodness in my life now, and all of the goodness that I will create in the future.

I decided that I’m WORTH IT. That if I didn’t validate myself, I wasn’t going to get anywhere. Because the truth of the matter is, you can have all of your closest friends, family members, coworkers, etc. tell you how awesome you are day in and day out, but if YOU don’t believe it yourself, it won’t matter. 

It’s only the times where you tell yourself, “I can do this” that work out. The times where you’re scared out of your mind, and you have no idea what is going to happen or how it’s going to happen, but you know that you want it so badly, so you jump anyway.

Success = fear + doing it anyway.

The problem with most of us is that we see or think of the thing we want, we dream it up real big and get super excited, and then when it comes to actually doing it, we freeze. And in that moment, everything vanishes – the excitement, the vision, all of it. And all we’re left with is that paralyzing feeling of fear. Of rejection, shame, guilt, anxiety, overwhelm. Those feelings are actually MEANT to be there. They are meant to keep you safe. Our bodies and our brains do not like to be in the presence of fear, discomfort, and uncertainty. We like the easy button.  

So, what is “Critter Brain”?

When things get scary and when we are forced to step out of our comfort zone, we have NO IDEA what’s going to happen. This place of fear is what I like to call your “Critter Brain.” Your critter brain tries its best to keep you safe from anything that’s unfamiliar. Which can be helpful if you’re trying to survive being lost in the woods, but when it comes to going after your dreams, critter brain is just another excuse holding you back.

When I have potential clients come to me for a free breakthrough session, and we have this amazing conversation and incredible connection and I cannot wait to start working with them, 90% of the time I get to the investment conversation, and all the sudden all the excitement and the go-getter attitude turns into fear. I can’t spend that kind of money on myself. I’m not sure if I can actually commit to a call each week. Maybe now’s not the time. Etc., etc.  

And for some, yes, I 100% agree that now might not be the time. But in most cases, this has critter brain written all over it.

We are the number one reason why we don’t do the things we want to do. It’s not money, it’s not time, it’s not your schedule, it’s not your family – it’s you.

We constantly are self-sabotaging because we don’t think we are worth it. We don’t believe that spending time and money on ourselves is time well spent. We don’t believe things will work out the way we want them to.

Because if we start to really believe, that’s the scary part. Actually exuding confidence and telling people about your plan, and REALLY visualizing it. It’s finally out there in the world, and it’s scary because, well, what if it doesn’t work out? What if I fail? What if I let everyone down? What if I let myself down?




But what if you succeed?


What if you get everything you imagined and dreamed of, plus more? What if it all works out?  

It might sound like a gamble, but I’ve come to realize that if you are truly passionate about something, and whatever fuels that passion is meaningful and authentic, then it will work out. It will happen. Not because of luck but because YOU finally committed. You finally said you are worthy. You finally believed in yourself.

Although I’d love everyone reading this to be like, oh wow, I must work with Kathleen at once! What I really want you to get out of this, is that the things you desire in this world are in you for a reason. The things that I want in my life are not the same things that other people want. Why? Because we’re all here to do different things.

What I want here for you today is to come out of this knowing that you are worth it. That you are deserving. And that you are enough, just as you are, right in this moment.

I know that the bigger jumps in life seem scary, but it’s the scary things that tend to be the most worthwhile.

So, next time you feel “critter brain” coming up, simply thank it for trying to protect you, and politely ask it to step aside, as it’s getting in the way of the person you want to be and the life you were meant to live.



Kathleen Layer