What is the Fear of the Unknown?
The fear of the unknown occurs when you are faced with something that is unfamiliar or something you don’t understand.
Being afraid of the unknown is natural; it was how our ancestors survived in caves and when resources become limited fear caused them to stop and think whether they should’ve stayed and fought or fled the scene.
Fear is a basic human emotion that is programmed into the nervous system and works instinctively when we sense danger. The fear of the unknown helped our ancestors survive when it helped them anticipate danger whether it was from limited resources or when they were about to be attacked by an animal. Their fear triggered their fight or flight response when there was a perceived threat.
It’s paradoxical that in this day and age we have more resources than our ancestors did and don’t have the same dangers either, but at the same time many of us fear the unknown more than ever before.
The modern fear of the unknown can refer to many things:
- Starting a New Job
- Job Loss/Unemployment
- New Relationship
- Moving To a New Place
- Traveling To An Unfamiliar Place
- Being in a Dark Unfamiliar Place
- Meeting Strangers/Making New Friends
- Financial Hardships
What Are The Symptoms?
The fear of the unknown is a natural response to perceived threats that may happen in the future. A normal reaction to fear is anxiety; which is the intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday and unknown or future situations.
Anxiety occurs when the fight or flight response is triggered and when this happens there are numerous symptoms that occur.
These anxiety symptoms include:
- Increased Alertness
- Rapid Heart Rate
- Rapid Breathing
- Feeling Tired
Anxiety can be normal in stressful situations caused by what we’re not familiar with. However, there are some common anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and specific phobias that share a lot of common traits associated with the fear of the unknown including excessive worry about impending doom or compulsive negative thinking about the unknown.
If you’re having problems with anxiety please click on the button below to download my free anxiety expert guide:
Why Do Some People Fear The Unknown?
Insecurity: People have always been afraid of the unknown, because it creates a feeling of insecurity. Those who don’t have the flexibility to react to unexpected or difficult situations tend to get hurt more by the unknown.
Fear is a Learned Experience: When you’re a baby or a toddler you don’t have any fear of the unknown, however due to age and experience the unknown can become scary.
Self-Doubt: When you’re thinking about making a life change you may start asking yourself whether you’ll be able to do it. Also, you may doubt yourself when you start comparing yourself with other people who had done the same thing and wondering if you can live up to their standards.
Agonize Over Decisions: I mentioned in a previous blog that the abundance of choices can cause decision paralysis due to the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). We have so many choices when it comes to making decisions that we fear being put into an unknown situation we may not want to be in.
Feeling That We Have Too Much To Lose: The fear of the known can be caused by our desire to cling on to certain statuses, possessions or perks. When this happens we fear losing these things if we leave our comfort zones.
How To Overcome the Fear of the Unknown?
No matter how hard we try and how much we plan we cannot control everything or predict what life will throw at us. I’m not trying to sound harsh, but not everything in life is a guarantee. When we try to control or look for certainty in our lives we’re denying the reality of life.
Tips for overcoming your fear of the unknown:
Understand What you Fear: Our fear of the unknown is not based on reality. Instead it’s based on a set of limiting beliefs based on what we think may happen and not what is our reality.
Accept That Failure is not an Option: The fear of the unknown is partly due to the fear of failure. If you understand what you fear and have looked into the risks associated with going outside your comfort zone, then failure is no longer an option.
Ride the Wave of Fear: Once you accept that going outside your comfort zone has its risks and discomforts you’ll overtime learn how to ride the wave of fear.
Embrace Change: The world is constantly changing whether it’s good or bad. The more you try to resist change the more likely your fear will paralyze you.
Develop Coping Skills: These include developing skills that enable you to manage uncertainty including planning, utilizing resources and problem-solving.
How do you cope with the fear of the unknown?
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