How To Brave Through The Unknown
Let’s face it, most of us (if not all) are afraid of the unknown to one extent or the other. The unknown brings the possibility of loss, failure, danger, misfortune; even though it also brings the possibility of gain, success, safety, and fortune at the same time. We like knowing. We like knowing what to expect and where we stand even if that means we continue on an utterly uninspiring journey, stay in a destructive relationship, and stay in a job we hate. We know what to expect and it feels safe. It feels comfortably uncomfortable.
The reality is, the unknown comes whether we like it or not. It comes in the form of layoffs, unexpected loss of a loved one, economic crisis, natural disaster, you name it. While we hope that tragedy doesn’t come across our paths, life inevitably brings its joy along with pain. And the unknown is part of life’s DNA just like change, which, as some say, is the only constant thing in life.
We can choose to curl up in a ball and hope and pray that things stay the same, and then live in absolute dread when the unknown comes, but there’s a better way to face and navigate through the unknown. Instead of letting it cripple us, we can choose to embrace the unknown when it hits or even choose to leap into it when the life presents its opportunity for something potentially wonderful. After all, life is full of unknown. Keep the following in mind when you’re faced with the unknown, and you’re more likely to move through it with less anxiety and stress.
1. Focused on the possibility.
When we’re faced with the unknown, many of us tend to focus on what can go wrong and all the possible disasters that might be looming in the corner. Instead of disasters, think about all the amazing things that can happen (really can) when you enter into the unknown. Disaster and windfall (and everything in between) are both possibilities of the unknown future. If either of these can happen, why not choose to focus on the possibility that gives you excitement instead of anxiety?
2. Take on the spirit of an explorer.
If you can see the unknown as an exciting adventure, you can embark on the journey with curiosity and even eagerness.
When I go on long walks around my neighborhood, I don’t always know what’s ahead of me because I sometimes purposely take a new path in the spirit of exploring. I don’t know where it leads and it certainly brings up a hint of fear in me but I also get excited about what I might discover along the path. So I move forward. And sure enough, I’m often delighted with what I discover when I step into the unknown path—wild plants, tropical fruits, farms, gardens, streams, or backyard chickens (when I was living in NYC), which were delightful surprises I would not have discovered if I turned back out of fear.
And the thing is, you can always turn back or change course if you don’t like what you see or what’s happening. The uknown comes with infinite possibilities and you get to explore the possibilities—turning back or changing course is an option. You can choose every moment, even when it feels like there’s only doom in front of you.
3. Make peace with fear.
It’s totally normal and okay to feel fear in the face of unknown, but don’t let that be a reason to stop you from taking a chance on something that might be worthwhile pursuing. Oftentimes, we say, we’ll do something when we’re no longer afraid or when we feel more confident. And sadly, that never happens. If we’re waiting for our feelings to change and for us to magically change into courageous beings to start doing something, we’ll be waiting for a long time—possibly forever.
A lot of times, we start to grow courage and lose the fear when we actually start doing the very things we’re afraid of doing. Sometimes, we need to feel the fear and do it anyway. Because the things we want may be on the other side of our fear.
Having said all of that, the reality is, what we dread can sometimes happen when we leap into the unknown. And the question that I have asked when I have been faced with the unknown and scared out of my mind of that dreaded possibility is this:
- Can I handle it?
- If what I feared happened? Can I handle it?
And the answer has always been, yes, I can handle it, not because I’m fearless, but because I enter into trust. I trust that I’ll pick up off the floor when I get knocked down. I trust that I will heal when my heart gets shattered into pieces. I trust that after the ocean of tears, I will smile again. Just like I have in the past. Because that’s what frees me—trusting in myself, life, and God (or Source, Universe, or whatever you may call it). That’s how I tap into the reservoir of my strength, resilience, and power. I choose to trust. I trust that all is well and will be. No matter what.
Will you trust?
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