Think of typical scary places. Abandoned factories, dark caves, dilapidated homes, or the woods late at night. Think of being on the threshold of venturing into any of these places. You don’t know what is in these places, but your imagination is likely creating a vision of something terrifying waiting in each of these places. Perhaps a criminal is in the hypothetical factory, an enormous bear is in the cave, some murder from an 80's slasher film is in the rub down home, and a pack of vicious wolves are in the woods. I believe our brain constructs these potential threats as a protective agent to keep us safe. This is an example of how anxiety keeps us safe hence anxiety or fear keeps us out of those environments. Now think about a more common fear of the unknown: a job interview, a presentation, a first day at school/work, a sport try out, an audition, or what the coronavirus might yield. All of these upcoming events contain the unknown, we do not know what is going to happen. But what are you choosing to put into these unknown.
Most of us put a fear-based prediction into the unknown because of 2 automatic mental habits
1. Preparation. “If I imagine the worst of these potential fears, then I feel like I’ve been through it, therefore it won’t feels as bad if it really happens.”
2. We feel overthinking the fear can help us avoid it. “If I ruminate about these bad things happening then I will be better at avoiding them in real life.”
These are common reasons given for putting more fear into the unknown. But essentially you are experiencing prolonged fear, anxiety, or stress prior to the actual stressful event. Take some time to think about what imagined or hypothetical threats you are putting into your unknown? Then try to put something that is less intimidating and probably grounded in reality and see what type of impact this mental approach has on your overall mood.
I often use this brilliantly articulated Amy Cuddy quote to better explain this concept:
"Before we even show up at the doorstep of an opportunity, we are teeming with dread and anxiety, borrowing trouble from a future that hasn't yet unfolded."
*I've had a handful of blogs in draft form for some time and never got around to posting them. So anticipate some information in the foreseeable future.