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Monday, March 23, 2020

Coronavirus and Five Ways to Overcome the Fear of the Unknown

We find ourselves in unprecedented times as a society today dealing with COVID-19. With cases of confirmed novel coronavirus in the United States steadily increasing, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instructing Americans to prepare for social disruptions, the uncertainty around COVID-19 has sparked anxiety and fear among the public.

Anxiety spreads faster than the virus. We are often afraid of the unknown; and it is easy to associate that fear with ‘others’. The fear of the unknown can be hard to describe because all the feelings and thoughts around this fear are in our head. Essentially it is the fear of anything that is beyond our comfort zone.

Overcoming your fear of the unknown is a personal journey that never really ends. However, if you live your life controlled by your fear of the unknown and want to break free then here are 5 strategies that will help you on your personal journey of transformation.

1. Understand Your Fear
Fear is not unique to you. Fear is part of our human DNA and so it is not unusual for you to feel fear when you are stepping out into the unknown. Our brain is hardwired to prefer negative consequences to uncertain outcomes. Our brain does not like us stepping out into the unknown or living in a world of change. Our fear of the unknown is just a whole pile of self-limiting beliefs based on what we think may happen and not on what is our reality. Accept that you have fearful thoughts but don’t let these fearful thoughts paralyze your life.

2. Identify The Real Cause Of The Fear
Xenophobia or fear of the Unknown is manageable. First thing to do is you need to understand the cause of the fear.  Your fear of the unknown is an essential part of our survival. It is a natural human instinct. There is fear that will protect you and heighten your senses to threatening situations. We all have fears about something or the other. The fear stems from past experiences, certain things, situations or memories in life. One need to ask himself what are the situations, things, and people we try to avoid in day to day routine life.
Once you identify and relate to the fear to the cause, you can get rid of it by incorporating some basic changes in your life.

3. Change The Perception
We all know that our fears are not based on reality. The fear of the unknown is based on our perception of what might happen in the future. The future has not happened and this is where you take your fears to court and question them.

Try to replace the fear with the Curiosity. Consider it the opportunity for the enhancement of your knowledge. Ask yourself “What can you learn from the challenge ahead?” Identify the top three things you would like to learn or grow. Be curious about the new learning while dealing with the unknown people, things or situations.

4. Accept Failure As An Option
An underlying cause of our fear of the unknown is based on our fear of failure. This is especially true when we are about to embark on a new journey that will take us out of our comfort zone.

If you really understand your fear of the unknown and have looked at realistic risks in regard to stepping out of your comfort zone, then you just have to accept that failure could be an option.

If you cannot accept that the possibility of failure is an option, then your fear of the unknown will convince you to stay put in your comfort zone.

Remember, your fear of the unknown prefers that you don’t do anything and live with regret than step out and possibly fail.

If we take away the idea of failure and use setbacks as experiences to draw lessons from, there will always inevitably be a positive outcome at some point in your journey.

5. Embrace Change
The one thing that is a constant in our lives is change. We live in a world of constant and at times disruptive change. The more we resist change, the more it will persist in our lives.

Accept that you cannot avoid the effect of change in your life. Also accept that change is not to be feared by you. The more you open up to the concept of change, the more resilient and courageous you will become.

Resisting change keeps you in a place of discomfort and that’s where your fear of the unknown likes to be. Your fear will keep you paralyzed in a bad situation because it is what it knows best and where it can control you.

Stepping out and embracing change will open you up to a world of opportunities and growth. Change will become a fact of life that you will embrace and successfully manage.

Conquering the fear of the unknown is not simple, but it’s not complicated either. Being afraid is natural, but it shouldn’t prevent you from embracing the unknown. Don’t be afraid of being afraid. That’s how you conquer the fear of the unknown both in yourself and in others.

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