Neurohacking Everyday Fear

Week 9

Where do our fear stories come from?

When we get curious about our fear narratives, we find that they don't always come from us. We get a ton of our fear stories from the media, our leaders, and our friends and family.


And that’s important to think about because fear is at the root of many of our world’s problems.


Fear of scarcity leads to overconsumption of resources.


Fear of failure stops us from taking risks and creating new solutions and most dangerously, fear leads to political instability and violence.


Our world is saturated with messages of fear because they grab our attention, persuade us to think and act in a particular way, and they get us to buy stuff.


Fear is a great persuasive tool which is why it appears throughout marketing theory literature as “fear appeal”.


Fear appeal has 3 parts: a threat, the firing up of the biological fear response, and a person’s perception of how well they think they can respond to that threat.


For example, the desire to fit in with the tribe is an evolutionary adaptation for survival. Before we had the very recent ability to just pay someone to get food and shelter, if we were rejected from our tribe, we would most likely die! So, there is a huge psychological motivation to belong and a deep-seated fear of social rejection.


The fear appeal can tap into that by framing a product, like a beer or a luxury handbag, as something that will help you better belong in society or advance your social status in the tribe. Let’s face it, it feels good to be accepted, even envied, and that’s not an accident because that acceptance helped to ensure our biological survival but is no longer necessary in our modern world.


Fear can be a powerful motivator for political leaders as well. State of emergencies get more attention and the public is more likely to react to an immediate threat, especially if that threat can be spun into a story with a clear hero and evil villain.


Yet the most powerful stories aren’t the ones from the media or our leaders. They are the ones we tell ourselves. Many of which we have been telling ourselves for our entire lives.


What are the stories that you repeat over and over about yourself, the world, and your success?

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