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.
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What Exactly 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.
How to Overcome Your Fear of 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.
For example ask yourself the following 3 questions;
- a) What evidence is there that supports my fear of the unknown?
- b) What are 3 examples where I have successfully coped with uncertainty?
- c) 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.
“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. Mindfulness – the Key to Quieting Your Mind
“To quiet the mind is not to eliminate thoughts, but to soften their hold us” — [email protected]
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.
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:
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
- How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)
- How To Stop Worrying And Use Your Own Fear To Your Advantage
- 10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Overcome Your Fear
- 10 Thoughts Preventing You From Leaving Your Comfort Zone
- What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It
Featured photo credit: Nicole Harrington via unsplash.com