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7 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of the Unknown And Get More Out of Life

7 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of the Unknown And Get More Out of Life

The fear of the unknown can be hard to describe because all the feelings and thoughts around this fear are in our head. These negative feelings and thoughts create mental blocks. It is these mental blocks that influence the way in which we live our life and if let loose can have a detrimental impact on us living our lives to the fullest.

When we choose to live with our fear of the unknown, the choices and decisions we make do not serve us well. Any decision we make based from this fear will not be a decision that will move us forward in life.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

Living your life to your fullest potential can only be achieved when you have come face to face with your fear of the unknown. But this is not an easy thing to do. It is a bit more complicated than just choosing to ignore your fear of the unknown. To be able to conquer your fear of the unknown, you have to be committed to making the changes within yourself and that is where it gets tough.

There are many layers of emotions that are associated with your fear of the unknown and overcoming this fear requires you to dig deep to find the courage to actually step into the unknown. This is not what your fear of the unknown likes. All those deep-seated limiting beliefs will be resisting and fighting back because your actions will be challenging them and questioning their existence.

What Is the Fear of the Unknown?

There is an extreme form of the Fear of the Unknown which is a phobia called Xenophobia.

Xenophobia is when some people have irrational thoughts and beliefs about people and situations that they perceive to be strange or foreign. Essentially it is the fear of anything that is beyond their comfort zone.

People who are Xenophobic tend to have a fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures or strangers. They also have a fear or dislike of people who are culturally different from them. Their behavior can be extreme and violent; The Klu Klux clan is made up of people who are xenophobic. Since the abolition of slavery and even today they have committed violent crimes of hate.

We are not xenophobic. We do not commit violent crimes toward other people because of our fear. We do however let our fear of the unknown rule our lives. If we listen to our fear of the unknown, we choose to live our lives in our comfort zone rather than taking up the opportunity to step out into the unknown. It is when you step out into the unknown that you truly start to live your life to the fullest.

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How to Overcome Your Fear of the Unknown

To overcome your fear of the unknown is a personal journey that never really ends. However if you live your life controlled by your fear of the unknown and want to break free then here are 7 strategies that will help you on your personal journey of transformation. Where you are living life to the fullest and you are no longer controlled by your fear of the unknown.

1.Understand Your Fear

“Fear of the unknown… They are afraid of new ideas… They are loaded with prejudices, not based upon anything in reality, but based on… If something is new, I reject it immediately because it’s frightening to me.” What they do instead is just stay with the familiar. You know, to me, the most beautiful things in all the universe are the most mysterious.” Wayne Dyer

Fear is not unique to you. Fear is part of our human DNA and so it is not unusual for you to feel fear when you are stepping out into the unknown. Our brain is hardwired to prefer negative consequences to uncertain outcomes. Our brain does not like us stepping out into the unknown or living in a world of change.

However, as Wayne Dyer says in his quote above; our fear of the known is not based on reality. Our fear of the unknown is just a whole pile of self-limiting beliefs based on what we think may happen and not on what is our reality.

Accept that you have fearful thoughts but don’t let these fearful thoughts paralyse your life.

2. Find the Cause of Your Fear

Our fear of the unknown is part of our DNA and is an essential part of our survival. There is fear that will protect you and heighten your senses to threatening situations. This is a good fear to listen to. Then there is the fear that paralyzes you and stops you from living life to the fullest. This is the fear that you need to understand why it exists within you.

The fear of the unknown is made up of many thoughts and beliefs that result from negative experiences. If you have failed in business or you feel you have failed in life and have low self-belief, then your fear of the unknown will be heightened and wanting to protect you.

When you are faced with the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, spend some time analyzing the cause of your fear of the unknown. Once you have identified the cause of your fear, then brainstorm ways to minimize risk and ways in which you can cope with the hurdles you may face.. Then go to Strategy 3

3. Question Your Fear

We all know that our fears are not based on reality. The fear of the unknown is based on our perception of what might happen in the future. The future has not happened and this is where you take your fears to court and question them.

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For example, ask yourself the following 3 questions:

  • What evidence is there that supports my fear of the unknown?
  • What are 3 examples where I have successfully coped with uncertainty?
  • What evidence is there that I will fail and my fear of the unknown will be right?

I am sure you come up with many more questions, but always remember your fear of the unknown is not based on reality. – so question it and move forward.

4. Accept Failure as an Option

“The guy who takes a chance, who walks the line between the known and unknown, who is unafraid of failure, will succeed.” Gordon Parks

An underlying cause of our fear of the unknown is based on our fear of failure. This is especially true when we are about to embark on a new journey that will take us out of our comfort zone.

If you really understand your fear of the unknown and have looked at realistic risks in regard to stepping out of your comfort zone, then you just have to accept that failure could be an option.

If you cannot accept that the possibility of failure is an option, then your fear of the unknown will convince you to stay put in your comfort zone.

Remember ,your fear of the unknown prefers that you don’t do anything and live with regret than step out and possibly fail.

If we take away the idea of failure and use setbacks as experiences to draw lessons from, there will always inevitably be a positive outcome at some point in your journey.

5. Ride the Wave of Fear

It’s fear of the unknown. The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that-it’s all illusion.

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“Unknown is what it is. Accept that it’s unknown and it’s plain sailing. Everything is unknown-then you’re ahead of the game. That’s what it is. Right?” — John Lennon

Anything we try in life that takes us out of our comfort zone comes with lots of discomfort, disruption and feelings of uncertainty. This is guaranteed and you will not be able to avoid the disruption of change in your life.

However, once you accept that over time, the discomfort will subside, then riding that wave of fear becomes a lot easier. Talking to someone about your feelings is one good technique to managing your fear. Also, exercise and mediation help to slow your thoughts down and keep your mind focused on the present not what may or may not happen in the future.

6. Embrace Change

The one thing that is a constant in our lives is change. We live in a world of constant and at times disruptive change. The more we resist change, the more it will persist in our lives.

Accept that you cannot avoid the effect of change in your life. Also accept that change is not to be feared by you. The more you open up to the concept of change, the more resilient and courageous you will become.

Resisting change keeps you in a place of discomfort and that’s where your fear of the unknown likes to be. Your fear will keep you paralysed in a bad situation because it is what it knows best and where it can control you.

Stepping out and embracing change will open you up to a world of opportunities and growth. Change will become a fact of life that you will embrace and successfully manage

7. Practice Mindfulness – the Key to Quieting Your Mind

“To quiet the mind is not to eliminate thoughts, but to soften their hold us” — Jen@aimhappy.com

Your fear of the unknown is created by your thoughts and self-limiting beliefs that are all held in your mind. For some of us, these thoughts and beliefs have been in our minds for many years and have a huge influence on how we live our lives. In fact, our fears keep our minds very busy with self-talk and thoughts spinning around 24/7.

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These thoughts and beliefs will not go away over night. It takes commitment and work from you to retrain your mind so that you have peace and successfully manage the noise of thoughts in your mind.

Mindfulness is a practice that I believe is the best strategy to managing an overworked and busy mind. Some of us like mediation as a tool and some prefer to take walks however whatever strategy you choose, make sure the context of practise is to be mindful and present.

“To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.” – Deepak Chopra

If you want to learn more about mindfulness, try this article: Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness

The Bottom Line

To live your dreams and embrace life, you have to be fearless and willing to step into the unknown. There is no other way to live your life to its fullest potential. Listening to your fear of the unknown will only result in a life where you live in discomfort and dissatisfaction with life.

The 7 strategies are tools that you can use to help you overcome your fear of the unknown and become the courageous person you were born to be. Go live your life to the fullest. Embrace change, ride the wave of fear and experience life to the fullest. You will not regret it – that is a promise!

“By replacing fear of the unknown with curiosity we open ourselves up to an infinite stream of possibility. We can let fear rule our lives or we can become childlike with curiosity, pushing our boundaries, leaping out of our comfort zones, and accepting what life puts before us.” — Alan Wyatts

More Resources to Help You Conquer Fears

Featured photo credit: Nicole Harrington via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on October 30, 2020

How To Stop Being Lazy By Overcoming Your Biological Limitations

How To Stop Being Lazy By Overcoming Your Biological Limitations

Are you a lazy person?

Even if you think you’re a hardworking person, there must be some moments you feel lazy.

Let’s be honest.

Who wants to take a longer road if there is a shortcut? Who wants to do more than required if it makes no difference in the outcome? And not to mention the countless times we are just too lazy to go to gym or finish tasks way before the deadlines.

But why is being lazy inevitable for everyone?

Our Genes And Brains Are To Blame For Our Laziness

Couch Potato Gene Makes Us Lazy

Ever wondered why some people are enthusiastic about hitting the gym, while most of us prefer being couch potatoes? Actually, it’s determined by our genes.

A 2010 study[1] found that those who are reluctant to physical activity have the “couch potato gene”, which is a mutation of a normal gene that regulate activity levels.

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During the mutation, dopamine receptor in the normal gene which controls motivation and reward shrinks or even disappears. That’s why many of us cannot feel the pleasure from exercise as those fitness gurus do. And couch potato gene is inheritable. That means if you’re not fond of physical activity, your children are less likely to be athletic too.

Our Brains Save Energy By Being Lazy

Another biological limitation we commonly share is that our brains are wired to be lazy. Although our brains only make up for 2% of our body weight, it uses 20% of our daily energy intake. To make sure we’re not physically drained, most of the time our brains opted to switch off themselves. That’s why we tend to intellectually lazy and find deep thinking especially challenging to us.[2]

But More Often Than Not Laziness Is The Symptom of Unhealthy Mindsets And Behavior…

To put it simply, procrastination is another term for laziness. We put off things that are supposed to be done right now and let our future self to pay for the price. And it’s all about not having the right mindsets or behavior.[3]

Sometimes we are pessimistic and afraid of failure, so it’s better not to do anything. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the complexity and ambiguity of what we do and so we become paralyzed. Sometimes we fail to stay away from distractions. And sometimes we lack a clear goal so we easily become unmotivated. They happen from time to time.

Being Lazy Makes You Irresponsible For Your Life

Laziness is a boulder that blocks your way to personal growth and success. If you allow yourself to be lazy, you will keep making excuses for not fulfilling your responsibilities and realizing your dreams. Although you can be carefree at the present, your future self will suffer and have to pay the bill in the end. So laziness is an issue that everyone needs to tackle without delays.

Take a look at the below solutions to overcome laziness effortlessly:

Plan Your Time Well. Your Lazy Brain Does’t Like To Think.

The fact that our brains are wired to be lazy can’t be changed. The only way to trump your lazy brain is plan your time well so you don’t need too much of what to do.

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How? Have a to-do list? That’s the most typical way people do.

But a list by itself is useless. You should set clear time boxes on your schedule. This allows you to work on it within a given time without procrastinating. If you need to do grocery shopping once a week, set a time for it, for example, ‘Saturday, 1-3pm’. You might also schedule what to do with your free time as it might increase your quality of life.[4]

Have A Clear Goal Before You Do Anything

Perhaps lacking a clear goal is one of the reasons why you fail to perform well in a task.

The Goal Setting Theory of Motivation proposed by Edwin Locked tells us that goal setting is essentially linked to task performance.[5] He states that a specific, clear, realistic and challenging goal is what we need for any tasks. The specificity helps us to achieve a goal in a right direction and the challenge of it motivates us to achieve it.

Instead of saying ‘I want to write a book’, you should say ‘I want to write a 100,000-word science fiction within a year’. See the specificity? If you find it is too easy for you, then write more, or write on other topics. Always take the challenge.

Break Every Task Into Smaller Ones And Tackle Them One By One

When a task seems too big and you have no idea where to start with, you would probably put it aside and wait until the deadline.

Every task is made up of smaller components. Take writing an article as an example. You can divide the task into different small actionable items: researching for ideas, constructing the outline, writing the content, proofreading, and even more. Doing it step by step would make you feel that you have accomplished something and this motivates to do go on with the big task.

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Perfectionism Is A Trap. Don’t Fall Into It.

If you aim for perfection, it is very likely that you need to spend a lot of time to finish a task. It turns out that you complete a day’s worth of work in a week.

There is nothing wrong in striving for perfection. But you can do it wisely. Get things done first and then make tuning afterwards. Thus, you will have an overview of it and see how you can make the fine tuning to make it better. And stop spending too much time on details. The time you spent and the quality of your work might not always be directly proportional.

3 Books To Help You Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done

If you want some more concrete tips on how to overcome laziness, you can read these three books for more insights:

Get Stuff Done: How To Focus, Be More Productive, Overcome Procrastination, and Master Concentration

    Get Stuff Done teaches the one skill that makes the difference between achieving your goals and settling for mediocrity. It includes the two habits backed by science that boost productivity so dramatically that they add four HOURS worth of productivity to the average working day. A productivity hack shared by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, and Steve Job can also be found in the book.

    Procrastination Ends Now: 12 Secrets to Boost your Productivity, Increase Motivation and Develop New Habits in 21 Days

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      In this book, the author shows you how to overcome procrastination and replace the habit with productive actions step by step: accepting the fact that you procrastinate, knowing why you procrastinate, identifying the roots of procrastination, and identifying and dealing with fears that make you put off tasks over and over again.

      PROCRASTINATION: Let’s Do It Now! 10 Proven Ways to Achieve Your Goals

        Successful people plan and put in the work. The writer suggests 10 ways for you to turn your ideas into realities that you can see, touch, taste, smell, and hear. The tips in this book will help you successfully turn yourself into a goal crushing machine and say good-bye to procrastination permanently.

        Laziness is a sickness that can only be cured with the right medication. Say good-bye to it and gain more time.

        Reference

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