Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all?

Fear- a four-letter word that can make you feel anything from jumpy to jittery, and everything in between. Every human being has experienced fear at some point in their life. While some fears are rational, like the fear of heights or spiders shudders. Other fears may not have a logical explanation per se but still manage to grip us with an iron fist; one such fear – drumroll please – is ‘fear of the unknown’.

The Unknown- What exactly does it mean?

The unknown basically signifies any situation where we are unsure of what lies ahead. Whether it’s stepping into a new job role or moving to an unfamiliar city, each time our brain senses change or uncertainty, it starts playing its ‘what-if’ game.

What kind of reaction does this trigger in our brains?

Well for starters (and I’m sure most people reading this will agree), it throws up all kinds excuses about why sticking to old habits might be better than exploring new grounds. This occurs because by nature, humans are wired to resist any kind of uncertainty, regardless if it leads to good outcomes. And so begins your colorful and creative reasoning as-to –why-you-should-stay-in-your-comfort-zone-and-not-risk-it-all.

Are there different levels of ‘unknown’ out there?

You betcha! Here’s my take on how differently ‘The Unknowns’ could appear :-

Level 1: Low Risk

This contains situations which stress you out mildly (something like piecing together IKEA furniture directions yourself). You know you’ll get past them sooner rather than later even though they give you grief.

Level 2: Medium Risk

This has potential consequences but affects only one part or portion of your life unlike level 3 (building up suspense here)

Level 3: High Risk

This has the potential to disrupt your entire life in a huge way. (Something like leaving your steady corporate job and taking up stand-up comedy whoop whoop).

What Makes “Fear of the Unknown” so Frightening?

1. A Lack of Control

Humans like being in control always, but they are also rare species that hate surprises (gives an awkward laugh). We dislike situations where we cannot tell what’s happening or predict how it will all turn out.

2. Unanswered Questions

Let’s say you move to a new town- which grocery store is cheapest? Which place has the best sushi ever? These teeny, tiny questions might not seem important individually, but when accumulated together – well let’s just say our brain starts spinning out-of-control scenarios because…’Hey! It doesn’t have answers.’

3. The Pre-Anticipation Phase:

Oh yes- you know exactly what I’m talking about here; This phase usually happens before anything ‘unknown’ even takes place and yet it can drive us all aboard-crazy-train within seconds.

Picture this: Your friend invites you for an upcoming party at their colleague’s place whom you’ve never met + Their boss will be there with his/her extra judgmental gaze (gulp)+ You’re not sure if any vegetarian options would be available (No way Out) = Recipe for spiraling thoughts catastrophe!

Let’s Look at Some Common Scenarios Where Our Fear of the Unknown Surfaces :

Starting Over

Starting over could potentially mean arduous tasks such as making new friends from scratch (though did anyone else read Discovering Little People books during childhood thinking they were actually about discovering miniature humans?)

Another issue that comes along when starting fresh is navigating through freshly minted social customs & etiquette…its confusing AF i.e do people tip on Netflix food deliveries? Or When to give up on deciding which cutlery is what- and simply start using your hands… you get where I’m going.

Career Overhaul

Career changes can come with big payoffs but the fear of the unknown tends to nudge us into staying put in our boring-same-old jobs. Some common fears here could include loss of reputation or being a newbie at work (takes sip from courage juice box)

Embracing Authenticity

Embracing authenticity would mean revealing sides of yourself that might’ve been dormant for years because standing out means engaging attention = Vulnerability! So yes this one also falls under the high-risk category sighs

Fear Of The Unknown – Can We Conquer It?

Now let’s begin tackling this ‘Red Flag’ shall we.

Even though growth lies outside the comfort zone, crossing over does poses certain challenges. By taking small steps maybe like signing up for an improv class, Saying goodbye to abusive friendships/flaccid relationships; ditching regular routines sometimes even journaling (Journalling?!..C’mon brainwashing won’t help here!.

A few things can do more good than harm:

1.Stop Overthinking|

Easier said than done isn’t it?
Ruminating endlessly about worst-case scenarios only leads to unhealthy thought patterns/possible panic attacks. Instead challenge those negative thoughts by asking yourself questions like: “What’s actually happening right now?” – Feeling lazy after brain exercise? You should feel lighter though!

2.Face Your Fears

It usually helps facing ‘unknown situations’ bit-by-bit rather than rushing headfirst in a situation/conversation/job/challenge without any preparation (cue totally regretting those last minute interview preps)

3.Think Positive

Sounds cheesy doesn’t it ? But negativities are toxic AF so stop self-criticism all day long

The Bottom Line

Fear of the unknown can be crippling to an extent, but crossing over the strange yet uncertain sea is where growth lies. Stepping out of our comfort zone isn’t entirely comfortable; however, what’s the worst that could happen? The best we get out of it would be a lesson learnt on how not to do things and when success comes in (as it surely will) we’ll know fear does have some thrilling endings!
And if all else fails takes bite from secret stash chocolate bar, then turn off your lights, grab your pet cat (or dog) & binge-watch Netflix until tomorrow!

(Be sure to add extra crunch – this usually helps)

And there you have it folks! Hope you’ve found ‘fear’ after ‘this article’ for sissies!(whoops got carried away)

Bye-bye Fears!


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