We as humans, naturally have a fear of the unknown. The “unknown” appears in many forms. It can be as simple as trying to eat healthy, travel to a different country, or changing jobs.
We have a fear of the unknown because we don’t like change. Having a routine is what makes us feel safe. A routine gives us the illusion of being in control.
People don’t really like surprises or disruptions to their normal schedule. I believe the reason we have a fear of the unknown is that we fear what we THINK might be the end result.
Today I want to talk to you about this fear of the unknown and how we can fight back by developing a mindset of curiosity. I really enjoyed researching this topic and I’m excited to share with you the things that I learned.
What is fear of the uknown?
Fearing the unknown basically comes down to being afraid of what you don’t know. You can hear a sound coming from the distance and it may be a sound that you’ve never heard before.
Your brain quickly starts to run down a list of all possible sources that this sound could be. Each time your brain compares a source to this unknown sound and realizes that it’s not a match, it triggers a feeling of anxiety.
If you run out of possible explanations for this sound, the result is a state of fear, confusion, and anxiety. You then start to imagine all sorts of outcomes of what could possibly happen should you are confronted with this “unknown”.
It is only when you’re actually confronted with the unknown that it’s no longer unknown. You then analyze the situation and decide if your preconceived notions of this event were accurate or not.
I’ve experienced this fear of the unknown plenty of times in my life. It’s pretty much the norm for me since I suffer from anxiety.
I remember when I decided to finally do something with my life and learn how to code so that I can have a career in the tech industry. I started learning with no prior knowledge or experience besides surfing the web.
After a little more than a year of self-learning, I was able to land my first job in the tech industry. It’s been 3 years now and, even though I still experience imposter syndrome, I’ve learned to manage it. The feeling never goes away, to be honest, so you just have to learn how to control it.
Why do people have a fear of the unknown?
We fear what we don’t yet understand. When we’re presented with something that is new to us, our minds start to interpret it based on preconceived notions.
Unless you’re some kind of adventurer/explorer, the chances of you encountering something truly unknown, like a hidden jungle, are pretty slim.
However, we can still come across experiences that are indeed unknown to us personally. A lot of this comes down to how “out there” an individual is.
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t go out much, the chances of you encountering an experience that is unknown to you thus resulting in fearing it are a bit higher.
On the contrary, if you’re someone who loves to go out and travel, meet new people, and just explore as much of life as possible, the chances of you encountering something unknown and having a fear of it isn’t as high.
That may sound a bit strange at first, but here’s why I believe that. If you’re the latter type of person, the one who loves to experience more of life, you’ll undoubtedly encounter many new experiences.
However, what is different is the level of fear. The more active individual will have experienced more of what life has to offer as opposed to the person who likes to stay in more.
This results in the active person becoming more “hardened” to the fear of the unknown.
The active person has a vast array of experiences that they can draw from to try and mentally prepare themselves when confronted with something unknown.
The more reserved individual doesn’t have that vast amount of life experience, so they may not know what to truly expect in regards to the end result.
How to conquer the fear of the unknown
Fear is a natural emotion to have as it can help “protect” us from dangerous environments or situations.
The issue with fear is when it starts to take precedence in your mind during times where it has no business to do so.
So, how can we go about controlling fear and stop it from directing the rest of our emotions and actions? I believe it can be done by developing a mindset of curiosity.
Since fear of the unknown is attributed to being afraid of what you don’t know or understand, then logically, that tells me that knowledge is the key to success here.
That means taking the initiative of doing what you can to learn more about the world you’re living in, including people. Learn about different cultures and customs.
Learn about the natural world around you like animals, plants, etc. The more you know, the more you grow! Obviously, you can’t learn everything there is to learn in the world since we only have so much time in a day.
But, having some knowledge is a lot better than having little to no knowledge. Also, learn to accept the fact that you can’t control the outcome of most things in life.
When you board a plane to travel, you have zero control of whether or not that plane is going to land safely at your destination or not. You can only control (somewhat) what directly relates to you.
Instead of focusing on the fear of the unknown, focus on learning something new of that unknown. Eventually, that unknown will become known, at least to you, and you’ll have learned something new from that experience.
How to develop a mindset of curiosty
Ask questions. Lots of really simple questions about one thing. Once you’ve asked the who, what, when, where, why, and how of one thing, it’ll most definitely lead to a spiderweb of other topics and questions.
That’s the beauty of curiosity. There are endless possibilities of knowledge and experiences to be had in this world. All it takes is a willing mind.
I truly believe that you can rewire your entire mindset to one that is continually yearning for more knowledge and information. If you’re currently not the type who is curious about anything, then that means you’re not asking questions.
Ask questions literally about anything. Need ideas? Well, how about floors? Like, who invented floors? Why were floors created in the first place? What purpose do they serve? How are floors made? Etc.
A mind that is curious doesn’t have much room for fear. For a curious individual, a fear of something means that they don’t currently have the knowledge or answers to that thing.
So, naturally, that person wants to get to the bottom of this experience as quickly as possible because they become more fascinated with the end result instead of fearing it.
Therefore, to develop a curious mind, go and read books, watch videos, documentaries, meet new people, ask them questions and just continue to allow these experiences to add to your library of knowledge.
What happens when you conquer the fear of the unknown?
Freedom. That’s what happens. I believe that someone who has truly overcome the fear of the unknown sees the world in a different light.
That person will see a world of endless possibilities. They look forward to new experiences because it makes them feel alive. That quest for knowledge allows them to look at problems and circumstances in a new way.
Obviously, this world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Bad things happen, bad people exist and bad circumstances eventually enter our lives.
I don’t want this post to sound like you can magically become a fearless superhero and able to conquer every aspect of your life.
I’m grounded in reality. Others may see that as a negative and as a sign that I have a “lack of faith”, but that’s just me.
I’m all about having faith, but you can’t ignore reality either.
With that being said, I honestly do believe that if you were to develop a curious mindset and feed that curiosity, that fear of the unknown will become a lot less scary.
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed today’s post, and if you did, please consider sharing this on your favorite social media platform.
While you’re at it, why don’t you leave a comment down below and let me know what you enjoyed most about today’s article? I would really love to hear from you!