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Last Updated on June 26, 2019

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 August 19, 2019

9 Ways to Prepare for Change and Live Your Dream Life

9 Ways to Prepare for Change and Live Your Dream Life

Every year, many of us may have launched initiatives for change in the form of resolutions. We often feel inspired to reflect, look back, and take stock of our lives, deciding what is working for us, and what isn’t.

The changes we seek may be relatively small or short-term, such as losing those holiday love handles or decluttering the garage. We may also feel a strong desire or need for more profound, long-term transformation in the form of a career change, quitting long-term habit, or moving to a new town.

Whether we deliberately pursue personal transformation and growth or have it thrust upon us, we can greatly improve our chances of achieving success by preparing for the changes we seek.

In this article, we will look into 9 ways to prepare for change. These tips will help you navigate transitions both small and large, and set you firmly on the path toward the life of your dreams.[1]

1. Understand the Logical Levels of Change

It’s important to understand how change actually works so you know what to expect during the process.

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), we use the Five Logical Levels to understand what’s involved in making personal change. This is a simple model that gives five useful windows through which to view any issue.[2]

Here’s a quick breakdown of the five Logical Levels:

  1. Identity – Who are you? What roles do you play in your life?
  2. Beliefs – Why do you do what you do? What are your values and beliefs?
  3. Capabilities – How do you do things? What are your skills and strategies?
  4. Behaviors – What are you doing? What are your current behaviors?
  5. Environment – Where, when and with whom are you displaying your behaviors?

Changes and factors at each level impact those above and below it to a greater or lesser degree. For example, changing your environment may affect the levels above it, but altering a belief you hold will most certainly influence the levels below it.

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To shift a behavior, which is the level we typically target when we resolve to ‘make a change’ in our lives, we often need to become aware of and adjust our underlying beliefs and sense of self, build our capabilities to include new skills, and possibly support the shift by changing our environment.

Let’s use an example to walk through each level; you’re unhappy in your current career as a Chartered Accountant, and have decided to go back to school to retrain as a Registered Massage Therapist.

  • Identity – is your purpose to be happy and fulfilled, or to be the successful bread-winner of your family?
  • Beliefs – do you value helping others? How much do you value income and status vs. happiness and satisfaction? Do you believe you are capable of making the necessary changes?
  • Capabilities – how will you gain the skills you need to become a massage therapist? What training will you need? What soft skills will you need that you don’t currently have (i.e. communication, making people feel at ease)? Are you willing to do what it takes to obtain these new capabilities?
  • Behaviors – aside from physically leaving your current job, what other behaviors might need to change? Will you need to cut down on luxuries to afford the transition? Are your beliefs in line with the changes you will need to make?
  • Environment – does your current environment support the necessary changes (i.e. your spouse, boss)? Will you be able to study and work in your current situation, or will you need to move? When is the best time to make the transition?

2. Get Clear on Your Desired Outcome

Take the time to clearly define exactly what it is you want to accomplish with the change in terms of what it will look like, when you want it to happen, how long you want it to take, and a basic outline of how you will accomplish it.

This is particularly important for those who like to jump right in once they’ve made a decision; enthusiasm is wonderful and will serve you well, but you also need a clear path and solid understanding of what it is you want.

3. Create a Pros and Cons List

It’s inevitable that with big change comes fear and doubt. Even when we know a particular decision is right for us and will benefit us in the long-term, we may feel a pull back to the familiar and comforting behaviors, habits, jobs and situations we are attempting to leave behind.

Make a list of the reasons you want to change. What are the deeper desires behind your decision? What specific positive outcomes will you experience as a result of your change? And finally, what are the negative consequences of NOT changing?

Create a detailed list of your answers to these questions, and post them where you will be able to review them often. When doubt creeps in, or when your motivation lags, your list will serve as an encouraging reminder of why you’re doing all this in the first place.

4. Imagine the Outcome

In NLP, we refer to this important step in accomplishing any chosen goal or outcome as Future Pacing. Simply put, you imagine and visualize the end result of the change you are making.

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This step accomplishes two important things:

One, you now have a richly imagined successful future outcome as positive motivation on your journey; and two, from your imagined place of success, you can then ask yourself how you got there, creatively envisioning overcoming any obstacles and challenges from a place of guaranteed achievement.

Richly visualizing the life you will experience after you have accomplished your goals as a daily exercise is also a great way to practice manifesting your reality. Here’s how: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

5. Ecology Check

Another NLP term, an ecology check is simply holding your envisioned end result up to the microscope of inquiry:

  • What possible obstacles or conflicts may arise?
  • What mindsets, habits or behaviors might sabotage your efforts?
  • How will achieving your desired change affect others in your life (family, friends)?
  • Are there any sacrifices you will need to make? Are you ready to make them?
  • How will your life need to change in order for you to achieve your end result?
  • Is the end result aligned with your core values and beliefs?

Asking yourself these important questions before you embark on a significant life change can save you time, effort and heartache, and allow you to make any necessary adjustments ahead of time.

6. Build Your Assets

Make a list of any assets you currently have, such as money and other resources, skills, training, talents and supportive individuals.

Now make a list of those assets, you still need to acquire in order to successfully accomplish the change before you, including things like adopting new mindsets and behaviors, training and education, mentorship, and physical assets such as living and working spaces, loans or transportation.

Make a plan for how you will obtain any skill or resources that are currently lacking.

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7. Create Contingency Plans for Possible Obstacles

Once you’ve envisioned your desired future outcome, and scrutinized it for possible challenges and obstacles, you can come up with plans for those possibilities.

You don’t have to go into too much detail; just decide ahead of time how you might handle the bumps in the road should they arise.

For instance, if you anticipate resistance to your life decision from those around you, you might prepare a short and punchy answer to the question of why you’re doing it.

8. Create an Action Plan

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when we are facing big life changes, even those we choose and want. Any worthwhile life change involves letting go of familiarity and stepping outside our comfort zones, and this can be a frightening experience.

Having a clearly defined action plan will not only help you stay on track with your progress, but also provide you with reassuring structure in the midst of what may at times feel like chaos.

When you formulate your plan, be sure to chunk it down into manageable, preferably daily tasks and action items, and set several achievable milestones along the way towards your end goal.

Start creating your action plan: How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

9. Keep Calm and Carry On

Remember to be compassionate with yourself. Making significant personal and life changes can be challenging, and as with any journey, there will be bumps as well as milestones along the way.

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You will make mistakes, and there will be unforeseen setbacks. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Stay present as best you can, stick with your action plan, and review that Pros and Cons list you created to remind yourself of why it’s all worthwhile.

Take time each day to visualize your desired outcome, and don’t forget to celebrate those little milestones and victories along the way.

The Bottom Line

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.  — Barack Obama

And therefore, you’re the only one who is responsible to change yourself for a better life.

Before you decide to make changes, be clear about what you want and what you need. And identify the skills you need and find the environment that supports you to make the change you desire.

Keep calm and carry on, and you will be the change you’ve always wanted!

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Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

Reference

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