Uncertainty of a New Job (part 2)

In part 1 of this three part set, I explained the area of the brain that keeps you alive. It is called the amygdala.

Think of it this way – suppose you are camping in a wooded area you’ve never been to before. It is dark and you can hear noises of the creatures of the night milling about. You have your tent set up in the middle of a clearing. You are familiar with the east and south sides of the clearing, but the north and west sides are completely unknown to you. Each direction has a pathway that you can see for about 5 feet before darkness takes over. There are bushes lining each walkway and the wind is slightly blowing. Assuming there is no urgency forcing any decision, how likely are you to explore north or west at this current time? The answer is that you aren’t likely. Your amygdala would create a very intense feeling of fear to prevent you from trying those directions out. Not because they are dangerous, but because you can’t be sure they aren’t. Uncertainty of a situation hinders you from choosing rationally.

Another example is the Ellsberg Paradox. The idea is that people in the face of uncertainty will avoid it. A PBS show called Curious: Mind, Body, Planet, Universe does a great job illustrating the Ellsberg Paradox in this video clip.

So the feeling of fear is an emotional mechanism for self preservation. Change is the near term enemy of self preservation, but it enables long term viability. Think of it like exercise, when you are doing it is hard and grueling, but the more you become familiar with it the more enabled your are for the long term.

I used the example of camping above, but self preservation in today’s society looks differently. Self preservation is more centered on social interactions. Being new to a group is difficult and representing yourself in a new job is challenging. Like I said in part 1, people will stay in a bad job situation simply because they fear the uncertainty of how to represent themselves in an unknown job situation.


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