Why Do We Fear the Unknown?

Why Do We Fear the Unknown?

When I think broadly of the fear of the unknown what immediately comes to mind is eighteenth century born English poet and printmaker William Blake and one of his quotes, “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite”. He went on to elaborate, “For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern”. The narrow chinks of our caverns have been opened just enough for each us by our own design to see only what we can comfortably handle as an individual. The extreme alternative of course is viewing the infinite, which would be the most fearful unknown ever to face.

I also think of Aldous Huxley, the nineteenth century born English writer and philosopher and one of his quotes, “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception”. These doors exist to both keep things out and to invite things in; however, it is up to each of us to choose which doors we want to open or keep closed. Nor do we even understand what might be behind each door we consider opening. For example, do we even know if it is an entrance or an exit, or both? Choosing not to open certain doors is the fear of the unknown.  An easier way to describe this fear of the unknown is to point out the common cliché “Ignorance is bliss”. The less you know the happier you will be.


In case you didn’t notice a recurring theme here, it is from these quotes and ideas that Jim Morrison and “The Doors” derived the name for their band.

One more thing that comes to mind is Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, which is a tale of an individual daring to doubt everything he had been taught and conditioned to understand by proclaiming it was not real and that something greater yet awaited him, and everyone. Essentially, he and others were chained together facing a wall in a cave with an eternally burning fire casting shadows from behind them. These blurry shadows demonstrating their every movements were what they came to accept as the realities before them. They were born into this reality and it was all they knew, but one daring individual refused to believe that the silhouettes before him were his reality. He believed they were distorted perceptions of what his life could really be. His friends did not believe him and therein lies the fear of the unknown. They were comfortable in their fettered skins and did not seek truth or the risk to find it, but instead chose to accept enslavement because for them the unexamined life was worthlessly worth living.


1. We are designed to fear the unknown

Whether you are a creationist, athiest, agnostic, evolutionist, or paleontologist we all fear the unknown. It is by some design, although no one can seem to agree by what entity or element. Our brains have an enormous proverbial filing cabinet of past experiences that it is constantly shuffling around to make sense of new experiences. When encountering the unknown it is fear that prevails because our brains do not have a file to associate with the unfamiliar enormity before it.

2. We should laugh at fear and the unknown

Kurt Vonnegut once wrote a short story called “The Dancing Fool”, in which an alien named “Zog” came down to Earth to explain how wars could be prevented and how cancer could be cured. The thing was, this alien communicated by farting and tap dancing. The night “Zog” landed in Connecticut (as the story goes), he noticed a house was on fire and as he ran to warn the Earthlings of the trouble they were in, farting and tap dancing, the head of household knocked him over the head with a nine iron.


3. We ought to embrace the unknown

Sticking to the same routine every day and never questioning why you do it stifles the very essence of experiencing this life. Given multiple shots, we so often keep the gun on safety as a reason to not miss, when in fact the more shots taken will usually lead to a bulls-eye in time.

4. We need to challenge the unknown

Should you find yourself on the overwhelmingly large side of a particular majority then it might be time to question the premise of why you are there with all of those other comfortable creatures. When unknown becomes known it is time to learn something new.


5. We have to approach the unknown with caution

Many people do not have a large interest in broadening the narrow chinks of their caverns or opening doors of perception. Many people are also quite content to be metaphorically shackled together watching shadows on the wall in front of them and believing it is the whole of their existence. So, be warned, should you take a sledge hammer to your cavern or begin kicking doors down then those around you will likely deem you an eccentric and odd character, when in fact you are nothing of the sort. Proceed with caution. Approaching the fear of the unknown should be slow and calculated like a mountain climb. And upon reaching the top come back down immediately because you are probably not supposed to be there.

Featured photo credit: Fear via

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Last Updated on October 18, 2018

50+ Best Motivational Quotes To Prepare You For Any Challenges In Life

50+ Best Motivational Quotes To Prepare You For Any Challenges In Life

Life is filled with highs and lows —happiness and struggles that will test your resilience and integrity, push you to overcome challenges and leave you with lessons that will make you even stronger on your way up.

It’s the way you feel and think about yourself, including your expectations and beliefs about what is possible to you, greatly determines everything that happens to you.

It all starts with your thoughts. When you change your thoughts, you transform the quality of your life. (Right, Nancy’s story is a typical example!)

Below is a list of the best motivational quotes to inspire you to start your day with a blast:

Quotes for self-assurance

1. Don’t downgrade your dream just to fit your reality, upgrade your conviction to match your destiny.

    2. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.

      3. You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.

        4. The man who has confidence in himself gains the confidence of others

          5. You attract what you are, not what you want. If you want great, then be great.

            6. It’s not who you are that holds you behind, it’s who you think your are not.

              Quotes about positivity

              7. Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think of what could go right.

                8. You should never regret anything in life. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it is experience.

                  9. Falling down is an accident, staying down is a choice.


                    10. If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that.

                      11. Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.

                        12. Don’t be afraid to give up the good and go for great.

                          13. Remember that life’s greatest lessons are usually learned from worst times and from the worst mistakes.

                            Quotes for work and success

                            14. Don’t talk, just act. Don’t say, just show. Don’t promise, just prove.

                              15. Never stop doing great just because someone doesn’t give you credit.

                                16. Discipline is doing what needs to be done, even if you don’t want to.

                                  17. Work while they sleep. Learn while they party. Save while they spend. Live like they dream.

                                    18. The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire, not things we fear.

                                      19. Never apologize for having high standards, people who really want to be in your life will rise to meet them.

                                        20. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.


                                          21. Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it, time will pass anyway.

                                            22. Don’t fear failure. Fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today.

                                              23. A hill is just another opportunity to leave your competition behind.

                                                24. Don’t quit. You’re already in pain. You’re already hurt. Get a reward from it.

                                                  25. Hustle until you no longer need to introduce yourself.

                                                    26. You didn’t come this far only to come this far.

                                                      27. Be selective in your battles for sometimes peace is better than being right.

                                                        28 If we keep doing what we are doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting.

                                                          29. You will never know your limits until you push yourself to them.

                                                            30. Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.

                                                              31. The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.


                                                                32. If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.

                                                                  33. If you can’t handle stress, you won’t manage success.

                                                                    34. Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.

                                                                      35. Don’t mistake silence for weakness. Smart people don’t plan big moves out loud.

                                                                        36. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

                                                                          37. Obsessed is the word the lazy use to describe dedicated.

                                                                            38. You become who you spend your time with.

                                                                              39. Be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods.

                                                                                40. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

                                                                                  41. If you don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs.

                                                                                    42. Between stimulus and response is our greatest power –the freedom to choose.


                                                                                      43. What comes easy won’t last, what lasts won’t come easy.

                                                                                        44. Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits.

                                                                                          45. Work until your idols become your rivals.

                                                                                            Quotes about money

                                                                                            46. Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.

                                                                                              47. I create new enemies every day, it’s called business.

                                                                                                48. When you have a Million Dollar vision, don’t surround yourself with 1 cent minds.

                                                                                                  49. You can’t get rich thinking poor.

                                                                                                    50. Doing what is comfortable is rarely profitable.

                                                                                                      51. If you can count your money, work harder.

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