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How do I Overcome a Fear of the Unknown?

By Erica Stratton
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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If your worries threaten to overcome you and keep you from trying new things, there are several techniques which can help. You will need to define your fear, educate yourself, meditate, or even take steps to confront it directly.

A fear of the unknown can stem from many different sources. You may be worried about a new job, aging, or how you'll be received at the next party. Uncertainty is part of normal life, but for some people, a fear of the unknown can be crippling.

The first step in overcoming your fear of the unknown is understanding what it is. Everyone experiences fear at one time or another, and even the most confident people are afraid of something. Fear is a natural reaction, a part of your mind designed to keep you safe. To start with, ask yourself what you are afraid of, whether it be a certain kind of situation, losing something or someone, or simply living in generally uncertain times.

If your fear of the unknown is based on something outside of your control, educating yourself can be a good way to cut the fear down to size. People have been irrationally afraid of everything from vaccines making them sick to the Large Hadron Collider causing a black hole that will destroy Earth. These fears can look dramatic and be difficult to understand. Learning about the actual chances of having something disastrous happen to you can ease the fear and give you a better idea of your real risks.

Meditation and visualization can help you focus in a productive way on your fear. Finding a quiet moment in your room—or if you have lots of small children, even the bathroom—can help you face your fear of the unknown mentally. A recommended exercise is imagining how you would deal with your fear step by step. Imagining ways to defeat it once a day can help you feel calmer before you face it in real life.

If what you're afraid of is not something that will actually harm you, you can take baby steps to face it in real life. A fear of social gatherings can be eased by having a friend go with you. A fear of heights can be gradually overcome by taking the stairs in tall buildings. Taking a class in doing something that will help you directly overcome your fear, like swimming lessons for those afraid of the water and confidence-building activities for those afraid of public speaking, can help as well.

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Discussion Comments
By browncoat — On Mar 09, 2014

@KoiwiGal - Honestly, I think a fear of the unknown is a fairly healthy thing to have, just like a fear of rejection or a fear of heights are healthy things to have. I think people are coddled too much these days and simply don't know how to deal with fear because they never have to.

By KoiwiGal — On Mar 09, 2014

@umbra21 - It's possible that the fear of the unknown can be caused by clinical anxiety, but it might also simply be exactly what it seems to be. I don't think anyone should resort to medication unless they have tried other methods, simply because there is no way of knowing how any one person is going to react to pills.

I think people can end up using them as a crutch rather than as a stepping stone and may never face what the real problem is if they have a convenient means of getting rid of the symptoms.

So I would try therapy, or even just a lot of talking with friends and family first before I would go onto using drugs. Sometimes it is simply that you are worried about life and talking can help with that.

By umbra21 — On Mar 08, 2014

If you have severe anxiety then I would suggest that you go and see a counselor about it. You don't have to deal with it on your own. And sometimes the feelings can be so overwhelming that you simply will not be able to deal with them without medication.

I went on medication to overcome anxiety a few years ago and it was basically a stepping stone that I could use to get over the things that were making me feel afraid. Without that stepping stone I sincerely believe that I would still be stuck, no matter what I tried.

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