Availability Heuristics The theme of availability heuristics has been coming up over and over again over the past few weeks for me. An availability heuristic relies on what we know to make a judgement.  We tend to rely on what we know, and what's easily and readily available. These things we know may empower us, or they may hold us back. We enter a situation, or have to make an important decision, but we do it based on what we know, or sometimes what we feel (which isn't always a bad thing, by the way.) We rely on the current availability of our own knowledge and understanding to help us to make a decision about something that we may have a limited understanding of. We may also have a preconceived notion about something based on what we see. For example, since shark attacks are hyped in the media, we typically have a belief that sharks will attack given the first chance, and that they are deadly and dangerous; but from 2000 - 2009, sharks killed 9 people, while horses killed 215. There are a lot of applications of availability heuristics, but the one I want to focus on is how it affects the choices we make in our own lives. I think sometimes we go about making decisions for ourselves and our families based on incomplete information. What if you have low self esteem? What if you're missing confidence? What if you don't know your own value because people in your own life have led you to believe that you don't have value? What if other people have assigned a value to you that doesn't represent who you are? Do you make decisions based on those availability heuristics? Do you know you do it if you do? Is it worth examining? The information that we have readily available may not be complete. The way we feel about ourselves is often not the entire picture. I've been giving this a lot of thought lately, and how it affects the work that I do, and the decisions that I make. The thing about availability heuristics is that they are completely rational to the owner. It makes sense to base a decision on what you know, or think you know. So now I'm re-evaluating what I know. I've learned that to do that, we often have to go outside of ourselves. As we're self-aware of how and why we make the decisions that we do, maybe we can consciously make better ones.

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