Conquering the Fear of the Unknown

It’s a beautiful Monday morning here is Texas. The sun is shining, the weather is warming up and my husband and I are both home working in the office today. These are my favorite kind of days 🙂

As I opened up my blog I asked him a question, “What should I blog about today?”

And the title of this post was his answer.

I’m not sure why this topic is on his mind this morning. Perhaps its because of the new environment we threw ourselves into this weekend. Perhaps it is because of the big push he is making to further expand his oilfield service company.

More likely it’s a little of both.

As for me, the topic rang true due to the former. So let’s get going:

Fear can be a deadly emotion. It’s the root of almost every negative emotion out there. So learning how to face fear head on and overcome it is one of the most valuable skills you can learn as an individual.

Fear does not care about your station. It is no discriminator of persons — it attacks all areas of every person’s life, whether they are the owner of a billion dollar corporation, an elementary school student or anywhere in-between.

The only reason fear seems to affect some more than others, is simply because the “others” have learned how to face and overcome their fear. Becoming master over it rather than allowing it to become master over them.

Fear shows up in all manner of disguises…. but today we are going to talk about one in particular — the fear of the unknown.

As a chronic planner, this type of fear is very relevant in my life. I like to know exactly what is going on, 100% of the time. I’m all for spontaneity… just so long as it’s planned ahead of time 🙂

Often, fear of the unknown strikes the hardest when beginning something new. Just like the pioneers of the early American days, when you set out on a new journey you have no idea of what lies on the path ahead of you.

This lack of knowledge can be paralyzing… and I believe it is one of the primary factors behind why TOO MANY people remain content in a life they are not truly happy with, simply because their fear of the “what ifs” remains too great.

“I want to go back to school and change careers… but WHAT IF, I can’t find a job.”

“I want to quit working and stay at home with my kids… but WHAT IF, we can’t afford it.”

“I want to move to a new city… but WHAT IF, I regret my decision later.”

Life is not meant to be lived in a state of “what if”. At least, not in the negative sense.

WHAT IF you change careers, make more money are are happier than you’ve ever been in your life?

WHAT IF you stay home with your kids and form a relationship with them that far exceeds the blessings than any form of money could ever give you?

WHAT IF you move to a new city and that move opens doors of opportunity that would have never been possible had you stayed where you currently are?

When facing fears of the unknown, my FAVORITE thing to do is play the “What If” game!

What if it is awesome… incredible… successful beyond measure. What if it is rewarding… exhilarating… captivating. What if it is life-changing.

What then?

And IF you absolutely MUST ask yourself a negative “what if”, then make sure you follow the trail all the way to the end. The problem with most negative “what if” questions is people ask one or two and then leave their imagination to run away with them to faraway places that are likely to not even exist in reality.

Let’s look at an example —

You want to make a change in careers — maybe it’s a change in employers, beginning a new venture, or maybe just a change in the way you do business . You’re excited about it, but like all new things there is a lot of “unknown” territory out there. You’ve imagined all of the positive, fulfilling “what-if” scenarios, but you just can’t get your mind away from the negative ones.

Start by asking your most negative “What If”
“What if this new venture fails?” (most people have a very strong fear of failure when it comes to the unknown)

Now…. before you allow your mind to run away with all the worst case scenarios, take a moment to answer your own question. What if it does? What if this new venture fails, what then?

Maybe this is your last-ditch effort and if this fails something really bad may actually happen. Maybe failure will result in a significant change of lifestyle for you…. what then?

Ask yourself the “what if” a second time…
“What if I have to make a significant change in lifestyle?”

What would that do to you? Would it kill you? Would your life be over? Would you lose your family, your faith, the love you have to give to the world?

No. You may lose a lot of things. But the most important things in our life are not the possessions we own.

Chances are your answer will sound something like this — “It would be hard. It would be painful. But I would get over it. I would try again. I would build again. I would move on. Life would not end.”

And THAT is with the absolute worse-case scenario! Even if that is the answer to your big “What if” question, you will feel much better having faced it and answered the question logically, rather than allowing your imagination to run away with itself.

And thankfully, most “what-ifs” never come to that.

Maybe the answer to your first “What if” question (What if this venture failed?) would look more like this,

“I would have to go back to my current job.”

“I would have to start working again.”

“I would have to move back to my current city”

What if those things happened? Are they really that bad? Are they really so bad that they aren’t worth risking the chance of all the POSITIVE “what ifs” actually coming to fruition?

In my opinion, no. They are at least worth an honest effort. It’s better to try and fail than to never try at all. Because if you DON’T try… you will spend your whole life asking the worst “What if” of all….

“What if I had?”

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