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How to Recognize and Overcome the "Don't Fears"

By Leanne Hoagland-Smith

When we hear the word "conditioning, many of us are reminded of Pavlov and his work with dogs. Over 100 years ago, Ivan Pavlov published his efforts on what he termed "conditioned reflex." Through conditioning of repeated external actions, he was able to get a dog to drool without feeding the dog.

Pavlov demonstrated that external responses can condition animals and this is true of human beings. Think back to your earliest school days when you sat in your classrooms. You learned that sitting up front near the teacher's desk resulted in you receiving more attention (external action). Students in the back of the room appeared not to be called upon as much and were not under the "eye of the teacher. Within a few years, you were conditioned that sitting in the front was not as desirable as sitting in the back. This "classical conditioning stayed with you even as an adult. Have you ever attended a conference, seminar or large meeting where very few adults sat in the front and the majority of adults sat between the middle and back of the room?

Another prime example of early conditioning centers around the parent/child relationship. Since parents are concerned about their children's health and welfare, the word "No is quite prevalent in the early childhood years. We all have heard some, if not all, of the following expressions: "Don't write on the walls, "Don't run into the street, "Don't speak to strangers and "Don't go to where you are not wanted or ask." As we become a little older, we are conditioned to receive a consequence for our failure to obey the "Don'ts". Many of us can remember that consequence as "Wait until your father gets home." This early conditioning turns us from "Don't children into "Can't adults."

Again as adults, we carry this negative conditioning into our daily lives. For example, what is the number one fear for over 50% of all salespeople including budding entrepreneurs and small business owners? Cold calling or talking to strangers. Picking up the phone and dialing a complete stranger activates two of our earliest childhood "Don'ts." Don't talk to strangers and Don't go where you are not wanted.

Another example of conditioning is taking tests. During the last 5 years, I have surveyed hundreds of adults where 80% or more believe that they are poor test takers. This belief started in school where they probably didn't do well on tests (external) action. As the years progress, this external stimulus created stress and anxiety. Mention the word test and some adults respond physically through increased heart beats to perspiration. Until the adults recognize that part of the reason, not necessarily all of the reason, for poor testing resides in their belief through conditioning that they are poor test takers, they will continue to be poor test takers.

For me, conditioning is very apparent specific to "medical shots." As a child, I was very sickly and had monthly, if not weekly, shots from our doctor who had that time made house calls. I remember one Christmas Eve that my mother and the doctor chased me around the house to give me another shot. To this day, fifty years later, I have a very difficult time around taking shots. Overcoming those early years of conditioning, is still a challenge. However, I recognize the reason for this fear and, thank heavens, no longer have to be chased around the room.

The examples of conditioning are too many for just one article. However, understanding that conditioning still continues in our lives is the first step to overcome what I call the "Don't Fears of Misery and Scarcity By looking as to why we fear something, we may discover that the fear was created years ago from our early childhood experiences. Now as adults, we can then take the appropriate actions to overcome those "Don't Fears of Misery and Scarcity and embrace "Joy and Abundance."

One of the best actions is to change those conditioned behaviors is to adopt the following belief: I will receive what I believe. By believing that I will receive the joy and abundance, I will receive what I believe. Today, I use this positive self-talk statement or affirmation to continue to overcome the affects of childhood conditioning and thereby improving my performance. You, too, can defeat your own "Don't Fears and create a life filled with joy and abundance. The choice is yours.

About The Author
Leanne Hoagland-Smith helps individuals and organizations to double results usually within 2 to 12 weeks. She secures lifelong change through proven processes. If at least doubling your revenue, improving your organizational culture or finding balance interests you, visit or ask to subscribe to complimentary copy of Power Choices a monthly newsletter at


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