Facing fear of the Great Unknown

If I were not so afraid of the Unknown, what could my life look like?

I’d go out more. Connect more. Learn to play piano. Implement various ideas to expand my personal horizons and income. Start world-changing projects and businesses. Meet soul mates, travel the world, challenge and evolve world-limiting paradigms. Cuddle with snakes.

The list goes on and on…

Yes, I am afraid of the Unknown. And yes, that fear reduces me down to my smallest, most isolated self.

I have been relatively unafraid of the Unknown before. At least unafraid to the point that I was growing. Growing requires walking forward into new arenas of existence. It requires accepting the ambiguity of not knowing exactly what’s next, but striving forth anyway.

I’m certain I’ve played a videogame before, where my primary strategy was to forge ahead as far as I could without dying, and then retreating back to an earlier area to collect my wits and regain my health. Then go back to where I left off, and push further into the dungeon. I’d repeat this as many times as needed.

I guess that is what is happening in my real life. I pushed as far as I could into the Unknown, but then life pummeled me within an inch of my death. I retreated, back to an earlier stage of my life. In this reverted state, I’ve been slowly collecting my wits, licking my wounds. Regaining my hearts. Buying some new armor.

Preparing to press on. To go deeper down my path of purpose, passion, and power.

Currently, I am re-reading The Mind-Made Prison by Mateo Tabatabai. I highly recommend it. Every time I’ve read it, it’s helped me immensely with identifying and improving the functions of my beliefs about myself and the world. And my beliefs about the Unknown.

Here is an exercise I did, using the book.

First, I wrote down words that reflect my beliefs pertaining to the concept of the Unknown. Then, I wrote down variations of those beliefs that will greater serve me moving forward.

Through this exercise, I realized that it’s truly no mystery why I’ve been so stuck in a rut lately. Because these were my initial associations with the Unknown when I started the exercise:

  • unsettling
  • uncomfortable
  • fight or flight
  • (usually flight)
  • interesting
  • mixed feelings
  • paralyzing
  • I feel powerless
  • Scared of change
  • Scared of new chapters (of my life)
  • Afraid of gaining and losing it all
  • Afraid of my own talents
  • Afraid of functioning at a higher level
  • Afraid I’ll find out I am not who I wish I could be (what if I successfully face the Unknown and then realize I’m still small and ineffective? What if I reach the end of the rainbow, and there’s nothing there?)
  • Afraid of making a fool of myself
  • Terrified of being in love
  • Afraid of dying alone
  • Afraid of not knowing what to do or how to do it

Well, shit. No wonder I hardly ever go outside.

Here is my list of ideal perceptions about the Unknown:

  • exciting
  • energizing
  • gives my soul a boner
  • love and light
  • (never-ending light)
  • fascinating
  • dynamic feelings
  • rejuvenating/restorative
  • I feel capable
  • embrace change
  • ready for the next chapter
  • enthused to explore new frontiers
  • super giddy to discover what I am capable of
  • eager to level up
  • happy to challenge myself to live my dreams and be what I know I can be
  • ready to be a clown for everyone
  • in love with falling in love
  • I have faith that I am always taken care of
  • I can learn to do anything that’s needed, and work together with people who have achieved mastery in my undeveloped areas

Comparing those two lists. Which would you choose as the associations to drive your behavior? The difference between them is massive. The feelings, the power, and the potential in those words on the second list are a light that pierces fear’s imposing shroud of darkness.

Which list is true? Both are… They are two sides of the same coin. Which side will I focus on today, to move forward? Which side will keep me terrified, paralyzed, and minimized?

It might not seem as simple, as just choosing one or the other. But it is, kind of. Choosing on a moment-to-moment basis, until the fearlessness is habitual and the rewards are compelling.

Here’s one of my favorite mind tricks, when I’m feeling downtrodden and hopeless. I can simply ask myself, “What would I do right now, if being driven by self-love and courage? How would I feel? What would happen next?”

Then, ideas come to mind that defy the hopelessness. That invite the misery into the warmth of light. I start imagining what I’m capable of, and those capabilities shift closer to reality. I start to feel a space open up within.

What will I fill that space with? What will I focus on?

Thank you for reading. I hope that together, we can all march forth into the Great Unknown and claim our ultimate destinies.