Why your brain needs the things it fears
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Your fears are part of your identity.
You can think of your identity as the end product created by all of the innate traits, learned behaviors, thoughts, and emotions housed in what you call your body.
Once your identity is firmly established, this is the anchor point for your brain to create your reality from. You literally see the world as defined by your identity.
Both our loves and our fears are incorporated into identity, and the brain is constantly searching for proof for each. You can think of those things you love and fear as reassurances, or proof of your identity. Your brain reassures itself that it got things right when it can find proof of your loves or fears, confirming your personal truth.
Why your brain needs proof for fear
Focusing on fear, what happens if your current circumstances stop providing the proof of your fear? Will your brain get to work seeking something new out to prove that fear useful once more?
You bet. This is why people will recreate physical spaces or experiences that align with their beliefs, including the things they fear. And if your brain can’t find something direct, it might start to make “mountains out of molehills”, using the smallest trigger to create an avalanche of fear.
Consciously we don’t like this, we don’t want this. But subconsciously all the nooks and crannies of your identity crave the reassurances to its neural programming.
Does is seem ridiculous that your brain would go out of its way to create something to fear? Of course, but brains are weird, and the universe is strange, and your brain navigates it all through a constructed reality.
Grab a pen and paper and write down the answers to these two questions:
- Have you recognized something your brain recreates that is either irritating, or even scary?
- Why do you think your brain harbors those neural instructions to keep proving that’s how life should be?
I’m going to give you a very simple example. No matter where I move to, and no matter how much I strive to change it, somehow I always end up with a cluttered junk drawer or two. They drive me crazy, but they ALWAYS end up being created. It sounds like madness, but it seems to happen under the radar.
How could this particular, seemingly innocuous behavior connect to fear? I think a lot of us deal with this one, and it comes from beliefs around wastefulness and preparedness. Thoughts like “I could need this later” and “It’s wasteful to get rid of this or throw it away” play into primal fears of scarcity and vigilant preparedness to ensure safety.
If I pulled out a drawer and dumped its entire contents in the trash, it’s guaranteed I’d still be alive. I would be safe. I would be in no more danger than I was two minutes ago. But there’s something deep in my identity that finds assurance in having a drawer cluttered with random things that could come in useful at some point.
I’ve also created extra debt in my past, because I grew up with a negative relationship to money and my family dealt with bankruptcy. As counterintuitive as it seems, living in fear of money was more confirming to my identity than not. Brains are cray cray!
Please know that if you find yourself creating similar circumstances over and over, you have a brain that is functioning normally and just trying to create circumstances that align with the deep beliefs that construct your identity. If you really want to change some of this, you have to become aware that it is even happening, and maybe develop an understanding of why it happens. Once you establish this you can make an empowered choice as to whether it’s even worth trying to change, or you can make an action plan to change it.
Simply recognizing what needs to change will allow you in real time to recognize when your brain is up to its old tricks again, and you can resolutely steer it in a different direction.
Offer to help
A coach can help you dig in and really tease those beliefs out, so you can lay the groundwork for future change. I can help you do that. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time for a no-cost chat.
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