Life Coaching and Lizard Brains: An Interview With Deva Coach, Sandi Amorim

I’ve been blessed to know Sandi Amorim for a little over a year now. During that time, we’ve worked together on many levels including my taking advantage of her amazing coaching skills. (If life coaching were a video game, Sandi would be a world champion. It’s not, of course, but she still is.)

A few weeks ago, an idea sprung up from a conversation she and I had right here on this very blog. We were talking about what great friends we would’ve been growing up. Then, realizing we were STILL growing up and could revert back to childhood humor (including fart jokes) any time we wanted, we concocted the super-fun S’mores Summer Camp for Solopreneurs. This is not just any summer camp, this is a camp chock-full of the most amazing, enthusiastic and inspiring micro-business owners I’ve ever met. (There are still 2 seats left, by the way.)

Sandi is an incredible person to know and to work with. She’s sensitive, intuitive, strong, sassy and always leaves me laughing…and I really love that in a person. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, go visit her blog, follow her on Twitter, friend her on Facebook and tell her I sent ya 🙂


You have over a decade of experience and training as a life coach. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey and why this profession called to you?

I had been working as a photographer for a year when I discovered coaching – or more accurately, coaching found me! I’d hear from clients over and over that they were surprised at how much they loved their photos, and I began to wonder what I was doing that contributed to this. I realized that I talked to them during the photo shoot; asking questions, getting them to think of anything other than the fact that a camera was pointed at them. It worked and helped them show up naturally rather than stiff and posed. Eventually, the conversations became more satisfying than the photography and that’s when I decided to explore coaching. Shortly after I began my coach training, I registered my business almost immediately because I was so excited to get started. I was on fire with this new passion which at the same time felt like it had been mine forever.

For the solopreneur, why is having a life coach so important?

After almost 12 years as a solopreneur, I can safely say that working on your own, often from home with little or no outside support is the greatest challenge I’ve both experienced and coached. All the structures we’re familiar with in a work environment vanish. Teamwork, discipline, accountability – gone as soon as you launch your own business. And unless you have someone in your life to talk to about everything, it can get a little crazy up there in your head!

I’m not just talking about a life coach, although a coach does provide the most comprehensive skill-set for this purpose. I think it’s invaluable to have what I call strategic support, be that a mentor, a business partner or what I call a committed listener; someone who is listening for you to be greater than your stories, reasons and excuses. Someone who hears your vision and hangs onto it like a dog with a bone when you forget!

My first expense as a solopreneur was to hire my own coach and that was definitely money well spent. She helped me get through the initial transition and shock of leaving the corporate world, and discover who I was, not only as a professional coach but also as a business person with a new range of responsibilities. I still have a coach on and off during specific times when I need extra support.

What do you find to be the most common stumbling blocks your clients struggle with?

Most definitely fear. Fear of failing, of looking bad, of others’ judgments and assessments, even fear of succeeding. I recently read a post by Josh Pais who said, “Fear is just atoms vibrating around. No biggie.” Well, I just nodded my head in agreement as I read that!

What the heck is a lizard brain? 

Yay, one of my favourite topics! The lizard brain is that primal part of your brain that exists for the survival of the human species. It usually feels like fear or resistance, but it’s actually a physical part of your brain, located near the brain stem. It’s responsible for that split second response we call “fight, flight or freeze” in both humans and animals and its only purpose is to keep us safe.

People talk about killing off the lizard brain, but first off, that’s impossible and secondly, it’s there for a good reason. In my work I coach people in how to manage it instead of killing it; almost as if you could turn down its volume. Why would you want to kill something that’s got your back?

You talk a lot about “someday thinking.” Can you explain what this is and why it sucks so hard?

We’ve all done it; it goes like this:

Someday I will…

  • Write a book
  • Lose weight
  • Start a business
  • Be in a great relationship

Then we talk about it, tell our friends, beat ourselves up when we don’t take action, refine our to-do lists, etc. Years go by…and then one day, we wake up – often due to a death or illness, usually some traumatic life event – and connect to this deep well of regret.

I’ve witnessed this at funerals. I’ve heard it from so many clients. And of course, I’ve experienced it myself, until my father-in-law’s death last year stripped away yet another layer of resistance and I woke up as though struck by a bolt of lightning. I realized that I was going to do whatever it took to wake people the fuck up so that they could experience more joy and satisfaction in life and fewer regrets.

It has been terrifying to put myself out in this way. I mean really, who the hell do I think I am to be the one to wake people up? Then I take a deep breath and thank my lizard brain for doing its job. And I take the next action.

You’re known as the Deva Coach, which often gets mispronounced (but hopefully not mistaken for) “diva.” So, what’s the difference between a “diva” and “deva?”

Great question, and I have to admit I can be a bit of both 😉

A diva is traditionally an opera singer, a prima donna. Less traditionally, it usually refers to a woman who’s not afraid to ask for (even demand) what she wants and will not settle for anything less.

Deva is a Sanskrit word that means deity or good spirit; one who plays in the light. It resonated so strongly with me when I first heard it, and immediately came to mind when I thought of a business name. Ultimately, my work is to have people shine. It fits and makes me smile whenever I think of it, even after all these years!

What are some of the techniques you use in your coaching practice?

I’ve studied Solution Focused Coaching, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and a whole range of personal development work. Learning is one of my core values and I’m always on the lookout for my next course of study. It’s one way to keep me on track in my own life, but also provides a huge toolkit for my clients.

Mostly my work involves listening and asking key questions. Sounds simple until you realize how little people listen, especially now when we’re inundated 24/7 by various forms of technology. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, but it also takes us out of being present to each other. I’ve heard hundreds of times how the way I listen makes a difference for people.

But I also use various processes and techniques to get people out of their heads and more fully into their bodies. The head has a tendency to over analyze and keep us stuck (thank you lizard brain!) but the body doesn’t lie. When you learn how to listen to it, it will guide you more successfully than any intellectual conversation you could have with yourself!

I also love to surprise people with the amount of humour, play and laughter in our conversations. Studies show that we learn better when laughter is involved. It eases fear and tension, relaxes the body and allows us to think more clearly. There’s nothing like a good belly laugh during a coaching call!

Who are your perfect people?

They are ordinary people who suddenly realize it’s time to take some extraordinary actions. They are DONE with someday thinking and are ready to kick some serious ass with regard to their dreams. Mostly women, usually solopreneurs, they are ready to take a stand and fight for what they want. They’ve had that a-ha moment and don’t want to waste one more precious minute of their lives.

What’s the single most important piece of advice you can offer coaches who are trying to build an online presence?

(Jenny’s note: Pay attention here!)

Be yourself – reliably, without apology, without comparison. When you show up authentically with all your gifts and geniusy self, people can’t help but take notice!

Didn’t I tell you she was amazing? Didn’t I??

14 thoughts on “Life Coaching and Lizard Brains: An Interview With Deva Coach, Sandi Amorim”

    1. I always admire the photos  @SandiAmorim:twitter  tweets, but I never realized she was once a pro. The more I learn about the woman, the more I adore her. Thanks, Tea!

  1. Good grief?  How did you get on pervy pros so quickly?  But that’s what I love about working with Sandi as my coach.  The turns in the conversation are unexpected and full of gold.  She has lit me up like a firecracker, and for that I’m very grateful.

    1. That’s what happens when @JennyBones:disqus and I start chatting! All hell breaks loose and we usually end up somewhere completely unexpected ;-) 

      And you lit yourself up. I just threw the box of matches at you! 

    2.  I got a lil’ titillated by the pervy reference and went searching through the entry again to see what I missed (pretty sure I just out-perved Sandi). 

      What I do know is Sandi is cooler than Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots, and I can’t wait to work with her more this summer.  Woot!

      1. Umm, looking for pervy is a helluva lot worse than stumbling upon pervy!!! Sheesh ;-) 

        That the Camp has already exceeded any expectations I had and we haven’t begun yet blows my mind! It just goes to show what happens when you attract your perfect people. Right @JennyBones:disqus ?

        1. It truly is magical!! I think people believe I’m just blowing smoke up their bums when I say that but NAY, say I, ’tis true!

  2. You amaze me every time I find out more about you! I wish all solo- and entrepreneurs were as open and honest as you. What a world this would/could be.

    1. Wow, not sure how I missed this comment but stumbling upon it today is such a nice surprise! Thanks my friend, your words are greatly appreciated. 

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