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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

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 June 4, 2021

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

Failure occurs everyday, in school, jobs, housework, and within families. It is unavoidable, irritating and causes pessimism.

While the thought of flinging your hands in the air and walking away is all too appealing, take a second to connect with the people who have been there and survived.

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. — Henry Ford

Here are 10 famous failures to success stories around the world that will inspire you to keep going and achieve greatness:

    1. J.K. Rowling

      During a Harvard commencement speech, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outlined the importance and value of failure.[1]

      Why? Simply because she was once a failure too.

      A few short years after her graduation from college, her worst nightmares were realized. In her words,

      “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

      Coming out of this failure stronger and more determined was the key to her success.

      2. Steve Jobs

        The now revolutionary Apple started off with two men in a garage. Years later we all know it as a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees.

        Yet, almost unbelievably, Steve Jobs was fired from the very company he began.

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        The dismissal made him realize that his passion for his work exceeded the disappointment of failure. Further ventures such as NeXT and Pixar eventually led Jobs back to the CEO position at AppleJobs said in 2005:

        “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

        Lost your job today? Keep kicking and you could be just like this guy!

        3. Bill Gates
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          Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout. He co-owned a business called Traf-O-Data, which was a true failure.[2]

          However, skill and a passion for computer programming turned this failure into the pioneer of famous software company Microsoft, and the then 31-year-old into the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

          In his own words:

          “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

          This isn’t to say that dropping out of Harvard will make you into a billionaire, but maybe that shiny degree isn’t worth as much as the drive and passion to succeed.

          If you haven’t found your passion like Bill Gates, this will help you:

          How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

          4. Albert Einstein

            The word ‘Einstein’ is associated with intelligence and synonymous with genius. Yet it is a famous fact that the pioneer of the theory of general relativity, Albert Einstein himself, could not speak fluently until the age of nine. His rebellious nature led to expulsion from school, and he was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

            His earlier setbacks did not stop him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. After all, he believed that:

            “Success is failure in progress.”

            To this day, his research has influenced various aspects of life including culture, religion, art, and even late night TV.

            Just because you haven’t achieved anything great yet, doesn’t mean you can’t be an Einstein yourself.

            5. Abraham Lincoln

              Failing in business in 1831, suffering a nervous breakdown in 1836, defeated in his run for president in 1856, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to rejection and failure. Rather than taking these signs as a motivation for surrender, he refused to stop trying his best.

              In this great man’s words:

              “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

              Lincoln was elected in 1861 as the 16th President of the United States of America.

              The amount of rejection you receive is not a defining factor. Success is still within your reach.

              6. Michael Jordan

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                “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

                This quote by retired basketball legend Michael Jordan in a Nike advertisement speaks for itself.

                It would be an easy misconception that Jordan’s basketball skills revolve around natural talent. In fact, in his earlier years,  basketball coaches had trouble looking past the fact that Jordan didn’t reach the minimum height. It was years of effort, practice, and failure that made the star we know today.

                Michael Jordan’s success all came down to his Intrinsic Motivation, one of the most invincible types of motivation that drives people to succeed.

                7. Steven Spielberg

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                  Regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, Steven Spielberg is a familiar household name. It is surprising to realize therefore that the genius behind Jaws and E.T. had poor grades in high school, getting him rejected from the University of Southern California three times.

                  While he was in college, he caught the eye of executives at Universal, who signed him as a television director in 1969. This meant that he would not finish his college degree for another 33 years.

                  Perseverance and acceptance of failure is the key to success, after all.

                  “Even though I get older, what I do never gets old, and that’s what I think keeps me hungry.”

                  Bad grades in high school aside, there is no questioning the genius involved.

                  To date, Spielberg has directed 51 films and has been awarded three Oscars.

                  8. Walt Disney

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                    Mickey Mouse creator Walt Disney dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt at joining the army.[3] One of his earlier ventures, Laugh-o-Gram Studios, went bankrupt due to his lack of ability to run a successful business. He was once fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.”

                    Yet today, The genius behind Disney studios is responsible for generations of childhood memories and dreams. From Snow White to Frozen, Disney will continue to entertain the world for generations to come.

                    The logic behind this is simple:

                    “We don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

                    9. Vincent Van Gogh

                      During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh suffered mental illness, failed relationships, and committed suicide at the age of 37.

                      He only ever sold one painting in his life, pinning him a failure as an artist. However that did not put a damper on his enthusiasm and passion for art.

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                      He would never know that years and years after his death he would become known as a key figure in the world of post-impressionism, and ultimately, one of the greatest artist that ever lived.

                      He would never know that he became a hot topic in art classes and his image was going to be used in TV, books and other forms of popular culture.

                      In the words of this great, but tragic man:

                      “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

                      10. Stephen King

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                        As a paranoid, troubled child, tormented by nightmares and raised in poverty, it is no surprise that Stephen King grew up to the title: “Master of Horror”.[4]

                        An addiction to drugs and alcohol were his mechanisms to cope with the unhappiness he felt with his life. The frustration he felt towards multiple rejections by publishers in combination with illicit substances caused him to mentally contemplate violence towards his own children.

                        These intense emotions were those that he focused onto his writing. And that’s why he said:

                        “We make up horros to help us cope with the real ones.”

                        Writing became his new coping mechanism, and this is how the master author we know today grew to success.

                        Fail More Often in Order to Succeed

                        Like Albert Einstein said, failure really is just success in progress. If you’d rather not to fail, you will probably never succeed.

                        Success comes from moments of frustrations when you’ll be most uncomfortable with. But after you’ve gone through all those bitter times, you’ll become stronger and you’ll get closer to success.

                        If you feel like a failure and think that you’ve failed all too many times, it’s not too late to change things up! Here’s how to turn your limitations into your opportunities:

                        Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, start failing, and start failing often; that’s how you will succeed.

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                        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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