As humans we are meaning making machines! Our brains are designed to assimilate new information into our current mental models in order to generate patterns. This is evolutionarily advantageous because the more predictable our environments are, the less threatening, so our brains work hard to make sense of everything going on.
This same process applies to what we fear. When we encounter a certain situation or circumstance that provokes a fear response, we make meaning of that event and associate that environment with fear. But often that’s not actually what you’re afraid of, the circumstance just exposed a deeper rooted, core fear.
For example, let’s talk about public speaking. Is it the act of saying words in front of a group of people that you're afraid of? Or is it the possibility of embarrassment if you misspeak, and the fear of being judged for how well you do? That same core fear can be activated in a variety of different ways, public speaking being one of them.
In applying this concept to your life, it’s important to be self-aware and know what is truly gripping you. Once you discover what the fear is you can get curious about what might have happened to implant that fear in you, and how else it might be affecting you. This will help you identify what is holding you back on a subconscious level so that you can work through it.
Let me finish by asking you the obvious question - What are you actually most afraid of?
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