How to Stop Fearing What You Do Not Understand

How to Stop Fearing What You Do Not Understand

Fear represents one of the most disturbing human emotions. Fear often becomes part of the picture when we perceive something or someone as a threat or danger. Fear may motivate us, but it may also paralyze us. The worst kind of fear may involve ignorance or lack of experience. People fear what they don’t understand. To conquer or at least deal with fear, you need to know why you feel fearful. 

Why people fear what they don’t understand:

Some fears do make sense. If you fear spiders, you most likely know that spiders species exist that may cause harm or even death. But our phobias represent a fear that causes us physical and emotional reactions to things where the fear, at least on the surface, seems unreasonable or unfounded. To face a phobia, we need to try to understand it. Or, as Marie Curie said, “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”

Phobias result when different parts of our mind experience conflict. The most primal part of the mind, known as the id, doesn’t agree with our superego or most analytically advanced part of the mind. To face our phobia, we need to call on our ego to bring about balance. 

The school of thought still exists that the way to deal with phobia-type fears involves suppressing them. But, since people fear what they don’t understand, quelling fears doesn’t represent a long-term or comprehensive solution. To conquer a phobia getting to the root cause starts the healing process and allows the person to deal with that fear.

Understanding your fears and misconceptions:

Though uncertainty represents an inevitable part of the human experience, it also may cause fear. Some people embrace uncertainty and use it as a basis for discovery. Others fall victim to paralyzing fear. Ideally, the healthy response to uncertainty would involve a balance between caution and wonder. 

Especially during stressful times, many people tend to find comfort by minimizing their circle to their groups regarding race, religion, politics, and sexual orientation. Xenophobia defines as the fear of the unknown. However, in these modern times of conflict, we loosely define Xenophobia as the fear of something or someone strange or foreign. 

Xenophobia not only damages the individual experiencing the fear, but society in general. As the beloved Star Wars character, Yoda, said through the pen of George Lucas, “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”

If we don’t face our phobias and other fears, we risk experiencing debilitating physical and emotional symptoms. These symptoms include such things as sweating, elevated heart rate, and poor sleep. The failure to attempt to gain an understanding of our fears may also keep us from moving forward and enjoying our lives:

  • Professionally, fear may hold us back daily or throughout our career. The fear of public speaking or asserting your opinion during a meeting may squelch promotional opportunities. The fear of going back to school with the thought you may fail may also keep you from more rewarding and higher-paying positions. As Dale Carnegie said, “inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
  • In our personal lives, fear of cultural differences stymies our minds and limits our opportunities. Again, since people fear what they don’t understand, the key here involves gaining experience and knowledge to overcome misunderstandings and fears of different people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we needed to limit travel. Travel (whether to other regions of the nation or throughout the globe) represents an ideal way to squelch any xenophobia-type fears. As Mark Twain put it, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on the accounts.” 

Steps in overcoming your fears:

Whether a fear falls under the category of a phobia or stems from reality, steps exist that help you work through the fear and possibly grow from understanding the fear:

  1. Temporarily step away from the situation to clear your head.
  2. If your fear causes an anxiety attack, take deep breaths and meditate if possible.
  3. Recognize and confront your fears. If you bombed during a comedy routine, sign us for another one right away.
  4. Research the information that surrounds your fear. Knowledge represents power.
  5. Visualize the worst and take yourself through the steps to solve the problem the scenario would create.
  6. Lead a healthy life in the way of nutrition, activity, and relaxation.
  7. Talk about your fear with a trusted friend or a healthcare professional.
  8. Reward yourself. If you overcame your fear of continuing your education and got that degree or promotion, book your dream vacation.

Realize that you’re not alone. Fear at one time or another occupies the mind of everyone. The way we react and process those fears hold the key to our success and happiness.