Fear occurs as a natural response to something that we perceive as being threatening or dangerous, but not everyone’s source of anxiety stems from the same place. We acquire fears throughout our lives, which can make our subconscious associate unrelated things as triggers for these unwelcome feelings.
These three illustrations speak to our subconscious fears through what we notice first when observing them. Start by looking at the above painting, “Butterfly Apple” by surrealist artist Vladimir Kush. What about the painting jumps out at you first? Below will reveal what you may subconsciously fear by what immediately grabbed your visual attention.
The Knife: If you noticed the knife first, it suggests that you subconsciously fear terminal illness without knowing it. Many who see the knife first share the same fear of suffering and the worry that they could pass at any given moment.
The Caterpillar: Those who notice the caterpillar right away are said to have a subconscious fear of the paranormal. This fear of ghosts, also known as phasmophobia, affects those who believe potential entities are of a malevolent nature.
The Butterfly: Noticing the butterfly first means that you may have a subconscious fear of betrayal. Usually, those who take note of the butterfly have been crossed more than once in the past and have an underlying dread that it will happen again.
The Apple: If you spotted the apple first, this means that you have a subconscious fear of your loved ones dying. This is usually common for those who have already lost someone close them and can’t bear the thought of experiencing that pain again.
What do you notice first in this skull illusion painting by Trevor Brown?
The Girl: It’s believed that if you spotted the little girl sitting by the tree first, you subconsciously fear to make big decisions and stress. Quickly identifying the girl is said to reveal hidden trauma experienced in childhood, which has affected these abilities that have become a source of anxiety.
The Strawberry: Strawberries are often a sign of love, but if you noticed this upturned fruit first, it means that you are likely in a complicated romantic relationship. Subconsciously, you fear that you may be in the wrong relationship or that you’ll never find true love.
The Butterfly: In this illustration, the butterfly represents a missed opportunity. If you noticed the butterfly immediately, it may be because you fear deep down that you’ll never have the chance to make up for an opportunity lost.
The Trees: If you noticed the trees on the other side of the illustration first, then it represents the subconscious fear of dealing with an inner conflict you’ve continually avoided. This inner conflict may even be guilt or depression.
The Skull: While there’s no actual skull in the illustration, many notice the optical illusion of one. If this skull is what you noticed first, it may mean that you have a subconscious fear of disappointing others. It may also symbolize fear of death.
What do you notice first in this illustration by Karl Kwansky?
The Skull: In this illustration, noticing the skull first isn’t an indication of death. Those who initially see the skull are said to be suppressing a secret or rejecting a certain truth that they subconsciously fear will become exposed.
The Girl: If you noticed the little girl in the illustration first, this could mean that you subconsciously fear helplessness. This fear could stem from a past experience where you were unable to change the outcome of something that happened to you or someone close to you.
The Trees: If you noticed the trees first, either the ones encompassing the optical illusion skull or the ones in the distance, this may mean you subconsciously fear the unpredictability of the future.
Background Figure: If you notice the distant figure in the background of this illustration first, this may mean that you subconsciously fear being exposed. Those who notice the figure often value their privacy over most things and fear being seen from an unknown source.
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