There is some degree of uncertainty in human experience. In unpredictable times, some people thrive while others become emotionally frozen. The degree to which a person is terrified of the unknown may influence how they react to uncertainty.
According to what you’ve studied, some of these animals are venomous and can actually kill you, so if you’re afraid of spiders or snakes, it makes sense. But not all anxieties are based on such clear knowledge.
Some anxieties stem from things you don’t know.
Consider Wall Street as an example. When investors believe a certain incident will harm the economy, stock prices fall. A more specific illustration? Public speaking phobia. Being on stage can be terrifying for many people since they are unsure of the audience’s reaction.
Many additional anxieties, worries, and phobias have a fundamental component of fear of the unknown. We’ll look at typical symptoms, which are in danger, and how to get over your fear in this post.
When not knowing something can actually hurt you
“Xenophobia” is the psychological term for a fear of the unfamiliar. Although its original meaning was far broader, the word has come to represent the fear of strangers or foreigners in modern usage. Anything or someone unfamiliar or unknown is included in this.
Researchers define the inclination to be terrified of something you have no knowledge about on any level as fear of the unknown. The fear of the unknown can become more intense for some people.
You may have developed a mental state known as “intolerance of uncertainty” if you experience extreme upset and anxiety when confronted with an unknown or foreign environment. This suggests that you find uncertainty to be intolerable.
What signs of this kind of phobia are most typical?
Fear’s physical consequences on the body are well recognized. They consist of:
- rapid heartbeat
- shallow, rapid breathing
- stiff muscles
- Feelings of fragility
- increases in blood sugar (glucose)
These signs are short-lived threats, and they disappear fast. But if you have a near-constant fear of the unknown, it can be unhealthy for you.
If you frequently worry about the future, you might have a tendency to “catastrophize,” or imagine the worst-case possibilities. A cognitive distortion is known as catastrophizing. This kind of thinking produces an unreliable perception of reality.
What makes people afraid of the unknown?
Inability to predict
Your worry may increase if you believe that you don’t have enough information to make reliable forecasts. Getting additional information can be one strategy for dealing with the lack of predictability.
Consider investigating the region before moving, for instance, if you’re having dread the unknown in relation to a new school or neighborhood. To learn more about your new life, you can conduct in-person or Online Counseling sessions.
Your worry will undoubtedly increase if you believe that you have no control over your situation. Your sense of agency may be diminished by both aging and a disability (the belief that you can take charge of your own life).
You might begin by examining your situation and making a list of the things you can and cannot change in order to restore your sense of agency. Making a plan that incorporates actions you can do in areas under your control will help you reduce uncertainty.
Who is susceptible to developing this phobia?
Though anyone can experience a dread of the unknown, behavioral scientists have discovered that certain populations may be more susceptible than others to this type of anxiety. Those persons include those who have:
Phobias and Anxiety disorders
You can be more prone to the fear of the unknown if you suffer from a fear condition.
In a 2016 study, researchers from Trusted Source put 160 participants through random noises and shocks to assess the startle reflex. They discovered that people with phobias and social anxiety disorder blinked longer and more forcefully when they were expecting an unpleasant, unknowable encounter. Researchers came to the conclusion that these people were more susceptible to anxiety related to the unknown as a result.
Compared to those without depression, those with depression experience greater anxiety when faced with uncertainty. However, given that depression is thought of as a sense of certainty, some psychologists challenge the relationship between depression and the fear of the unknown. For instance, the sense of hopelessness stems from the conviction that nothing positive is imminent. According to some psychologists, anxiety that comes along with serious depression is more likely the source of persons with depression’s fear of unknown depression.
There seems to be a connection between alcohol use disorder and a fear of the unknown. Researchers observed that study participants with a history of problematic alcohol use were extra sensitive to the uncertainty in a 2016 study that used the same experimental setup (predictable and unpredictable electric shocks). They came to the conclusion that people might use alcohol to deal with their fear of the unknown.
Psychologists have looked at how people with eating disorders cope with uncertainty. They’ve discovered that individuals with eating problems frequently experience high levels of anxiety when contemplating the uncertainties of the future.
In a 2017 study, those who were more introverted and less confident in their capacity to interact with others experienced the greatest levels of anxiety.
Disorder of compulsive behavior
OCD sufferers frequently experience anxiety related to intolerance of uncertainty (OCD).
603 OCD research participants provided information about their symptoms in a 2013 study. Four of the symptoms they mentioned were brought on by an intolerance of uncertainty:
- placing and organizing
- ensuring contamination-free washing by double- and triple-checking
- Disordered hoarding
People who are driven to accumulate things may be doing so out of fear of the unknown. Researchers have examined individuals with hoarding problems and discovered a greater intolerance for unpredictability. Researchers discovered that treatment effects were enhanced when therapists or an Online Counsellor address the intolerance for uncertainty.
How can you get over your fear of the unknown?
- Challenge your presumptions
Consider what beliefs you hold if you sense dread of the unknown. then ponder the following inquiries:
- How logical are your beliefs, exactly?
- Have you developed any cognitive biases to help you get through previous challenges?
- Are those false beliefs preventing you right now?
- Research your topic
By learning more, you might be able to reduce your fear of the unknown. You could find it simpler to make judgments if you have more knowledge.
If you have financial anxiety, it is very crucial that you take this step.
- Remain rooted in the present.
You can take steps right now to lessen the likelihood of a bad outcome in the future. You may strengthen your sense of accountability and control over your life by making a list of the things you can control and then taking one tiny action each day.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle to manage stress.
Each of these elements can improve your ability to manage the stress that comes with uncertainty:
- Exercise, rest, and healthy food
- favorable connections
When faced with terrifying unknowns, take care of yourself as best you can.
- Consult a reliable source.
You might be able to process your fear of the unknown with the aid of a therapist or an Online Counselor, who can also help you come up with tactics to constructively reframe your thought processes. If you decide that this is not the ideal moment for you to begin counseling, speak with a dependable friend or record your worries in a personal notebook.
Sometimes, naming your worries causes them to become more manageable.
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