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Breaking Associations…

Temporal relationship does NOT prove cause and effect”

Now, this one’s not easy. But the reward it gives us mentally and in reality is worth the process. You know how that one time when you got up to present your heartbeat was a little TOO fast, and you started to panic? Now it seems like every time you get up for that presentation your mind jumps to that memory, as if it’s going to happen all over again. Or on a smaller level, you had a really bad day in that one red t-shirt so now you won’t put it on again…

We ALL do this. To different degrees. Some may consider it superstitious, but the psychological term behind this is called association. Associations in the psychology world means: “A mental connection between concepts, events, or mental states that usually stems from specific experiences.” So… it makes complete sense for you to connect the feeling of fear with an experience that’s safe for you because you’ve experienced it before.

I’ll share my own example.

My first semester of junior year was going absolutely amazing. I loved my professors, I loved my classmates, and I honestly loved being in school and just learning. A few hardships came along in the last few weeks of my semester, and I started to struggle a lot. My anxiety was at an all-time high due to the circumstances I was experiencing and now it was finals week so I was trying to manage WAY more than I was capable of.

I had a final presentation. I told my friend the whole day how I was so worried, my professor actually laughed because she knew how I’m an outgoing person that always loved talking to everyone around me in class and she thought it was crazy that I couldn’t present.

I ended up having a panic attack and didn’t complete my final presentation… at all.

Now, of course, more came after this. But after taking some time to heal and manage the anxiety I was experiencing, another semester came to an end and here I was faced with 4 final presentations (one that had to be 45 minutes long) seriously. It had to be FOURTY-FIVE MINUTES LONG. All I could think about was that awful panic attack. All I could fear was that it would happen again but in front of people. I didn’t know how I could even finish up my semester.

So, here’s the point we’re trying to get at.

How did I beat the fear and accomplish what needed to be done?

I faced it head-on.

First, I broke down and understood the association. I was afraid to present because I was afraid to feel the panic I had once. Now, I made myself understand this was a different time. And you know the hardest part? I let myself feel the fear anyway.

I ended up just getting up there, letting my heart beat a bit, and feeling all the feels… and then I was fine. Completely and perfectly fine. (I also got a good grade!!).

A family friend once told me:

Temporal relationship does NOT prove cause and effect”

To break that one down in simple terms, your one experience does not determine or prove the same outcome for similar experiences to come. Face the fear, and be present in the moment, because every new experience is a brand new moment. Although you might remember the fear tied to specific events, the most rewarding thing you can do is prove yourself wrong. Make the jump!

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