Fear of the Unknown

Updated: Sep 11

Ah….here we are. Facing the unknown. Yet again. What is the unknown? Well, we don’t know. That’s the point. Yet we do everything we can to try to know. Why do we do this? Well, it’s simple. We like to be in control. We like to know what is going to happen so that we know how to plan for it. If the unknown presents itself, we likely become uncomfortable, worried, or afraid. If we listen to these feelings/sensations, we may rapidly send ourselves down a rabbit hole. We may face a ton of unanswered questions, bodily tension, cognitive dissonance, frustration, more tension, etc.

I find it interesting how quickly we are accompanied by fear when treading uncharted territory. How we almost immediately jump to a multitude of conclusions that are likely to not even happen. One evening in a rehearsal, a company director asked us what we are afraid of. I responded: the dark. She proceeded to ask me what makes the dark scary. I responded that I wasn’t sure. Something about not being able to see as easily as I can in the light. Something about not fully knowing what could be there. She saw the connection and gave me a look that read, ‘Well?’ I demonstrated that I understood.

If, in my case, the dark represents the unknown, then surely it isn’t the dark that I am afraid of, but rather, the unknown. So what exactly is there to fear about the unknown? My initial response used to be everything, but now I am inclined to say nothing. I believe that what we actually fear isn’t the unknown, but all of the possible scenarios, situations, and circumstances we could find ourselves in. How do we come up with these? Well, TV. Movies. Books. Bedtime stories. Generational trauma. Regardless of origin, we each store a treasure chest of these fears waiting to be unlocked. If we unlock these fears, we instantly become their prey. We fall victim to the narrative(s) and forget that they are nothing other than hypothetical scenarios. Situations that may have occurred to someone else at another time, maybe even to us, but in this moment, they exist only in the mind out of fear.

I’ve learned that our bodies store our fear-filled memories and traumatic experiences.

So, if and when triggered, our thoughts are likely to take over. However, if we were to remove these thoughts from the equation, we would just exist with the unknown, without the ruler of fear. I don’t know about you, but I much rather prefer this. In fact, it sounds pretty exciting. Existing with the unknown. Minimal fear, minimal worry. Allowance of the present moment. Complete surrender. I believe this is our responsibility. To embrace what we do not know. To refuse to buy into fear, and/or the broken record of thoughts that is oh-so-convincing at times. This is a powerful moment of decision. I choose to listen. I choose to observe and not react. I choose to accept and surrender. I reclaim my power.

I was recently let in on a secret that has allowed me to develop a healthier relationship with my fears and subsequently the unknown. The idea is that we have all the power we could ever need within us, and it isn’t until we think we don’t that we don’t. There is never a need to try and control a situation, or manipulate it in some way in order to produce a desired outcome. In fact doing so, as I’ve experienced, produces far greater dissatisfaction than initially feared. The other night, I sat outside in the midst of a thunderstorm and surrendered. I surrendered and laughed. I laughed because I recognized the fear(s) within myself. I felt the burgeoning need for control, safety, and security. I noticed these feelings, resisted them initially, but then chose to submit to the forces of nature. In doing so, I deepened my connection with the Earth, which granted me the trust I needed to stay in a state of allowing without resistance. Arms wide open.

Embracing the unknown feels like becoming an adult-child. It feels like smiling in the face of what we don’t know, because we know that any efforts to try to control will be futile. I believe this state of being is that of ultimate control. The kind of acceptance that grants us freedom and permission to say ‘yes’ in the face of the unknown. If we choose to trust in the face of fear, we choose to face everything in real time, instead of listening to preconceived notions. We choose to exist fully in the present moment, without premeditated resistance to what may occur.

I’d say this leaves us at a fork in the road each time we are faced with the unknown. On one path we have fear and on the other we have trust, faith, and acceptance. Given that I’ve never been one to look at things as black and white, I’d choose to somehow go down both paths. In fact, I usually try to. I think there is something to be said about consciously choosing acceptance, while inviting and therefore integrating our fear(s). I believe we must welcome the things we fear most. Invite them to the table. Make them feel safe with us, so that we may feel safe with them. Michael A. Singer, author of The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, wrote that if we are resisting something, we are feeding it.

I believe that if we are carrying with us the integrity of our being, our connection to all things, then the choice becomes clear. Whichever path will bring us the most peace. The most joy. Whichever way will grant us the most freedom in the present moment, and not keep us locked within the shackles of the mind because here is nothing more unbearable than that.I am interested in this. I am interested in the excitement of not knowing. Of radical acceptance of what is not yet known. Of the openness to experience and possibilities of Life. I want to exist here. Who’s with me?


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