Why do we fear The Unknown?
Remember, fear is a natural human instinct. Your brain is wired to seek safety. Your brain isn’t sure whether new things or The Unknown things will be safe, so it goes on high alert…hence, FEAR and ANXIETY.
Fear of The Unknown prevents us from taking charge, stops us from joyfully living life on our terms, and keeps us stuck in a rut (aka our comfort zone)…simply because it is the familiar thing to do.
Uncertainty = Discomfort
We don’t like the discomfort that comes with uncertainty.
Did you ever try to control things to avoid that uncertainty? If only we could control everything, then there would be no uncomfortable uncertainty, right? The problem is that since it’s humanly impossible to control everything, trying to do so inevitably creates more anxiety!
Ironically, the key to feeling more comfortable with uncertainty is to become more comfortable with the uncomfortable.
The key to overcoming fear of The Unknown is to increase your tolerance for uncertainty.
Where to start?
- Take an objective look at which aspects of the issue are IN or OUT of your control.
- Take action on things that are IN your control. There is always something you can take some positive action on right now. You can’t take action on things that are not in the NOW. So stay in the present moment and brainstorm your options for those things that you do have some control over. Having taken some positive actions will feel more in control, more centered, more comfortable. It will be easier to deal with the things that are out of your control when you can see that some things are actually in your control.
- For those things that are OUT of your control, see if you can increase your tolerance for uncertainty. We all need to build this skill because the truth is that many things in life are uncertain. If you dwell on them, they will control you. Learning to accept the inherent uncertainty and lack of control of certain aspects of life is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety.
Thoughts Create Feelings
Learning to increase your tolerance for uncertainty is a way of feeling more comfortable facing The Unknown.
It all starts with taking charge of your thoughts because thoughts come first and create feelings.
Negative thoughts lead to negative feelings. Better thoughts lead to better feelings. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is about retraining your brain how to think differently so you can feel better.
Here’s some techniques to try:
- Stop dwelling on only the possible negative outcomes (what good could come from this situation?)
- Stop catastrophizing about the worst case scenario (it’s 99% more likely something better than that will happen)
- Replace fear of The Unknown with curiosity about the positive possibilities
- Remind yourself that life is supposed to be uncertain (otherwise it would be completely boring and unchanging)
- Remind yourself of past times when things felt uncomfortable but worked out OK
- If you have belief in a Higher Power, have faith that there’s a bigger plan than you can know, and that you are never alone