The Fear of the Unknown

“We do not fear the unknown, we fear what we think we know about the unknown.” – Teal Swan

We Run Tests for a Reason

Tests have concluded that humans have a fear of the unknown. Psychologists developed the tests at the University of Washington and Harvard. They created the Implicit Association Test to highlight certain biases we do not admit to and to prove we fear things we do not know much about.

Test subjects were shown various races of people on a screen while they recorded the brain activity in their amygdala. Doctors showed images to black people of white people and vice versa. They were also shown images of the same race. When shown the faces of these people, the doctors asked two different questions. How old do you think this person is, over or under 21? What vegetable do you think this person likes to eat?

The point of these questions was to have the test subjects categorize the faces by placing them in an age bracket and on the opposite end, view these faces subjectively by only thinking about vegetables.

The tests showed heightened activity in the amygdala (the fear factory) when asked to categorize the faces. This shows that when we’re forced to look at something or someone as a stranger, a natural fear response is present because of the unknown.

The activity in the amygdala decreased when only asked to think about the food these faces eat. When we associated them with just being another human being who eats vegetables just like we do, the fear response drastically reduced.

Human’s fear of the unknown is our greatest fear. Now we have test evidence to prove it. But what do we do with this evidence?

The purpose of a test is to gain an understanding of any unknown subject to better understand the subject. We then improve our understanding after we gather our results. We don’t let the results sit and rot after we’ve made new discoveries. We act on those discoveries and continue to grow and improve.

The test results showed that we become fearful of a group of people we’re not familiar with. Images showed to white people of blacks often showed signs of fear when asked to categorize that person. In the same tests, when asked to guess which type of vegetable that black person eats, there was little to no fear.

Inclusion Eliminates Fear of the Unknown

Inclusion led them to look at that unknown face as an equal. They included them in the thought process and said “this person eats vegetables just like me,” and therefore shouldn’t be looked at as nothing more or nothing less than my equal. A human on this vast planet.

The thought of inclusion scares a lot of people in itself. It forces them to admit that no matter my skin color, age, ethnicity, gender, or religious belief, I am only human just like you.

When we start seeing all living things exactly like you and I, we can begin to live in peace and not fear. We can stop fearing what we do not know about the next person because all we see when we look at that person is someone who looks just like us.

Along with this, when we think of the fear of the unknown, we think of the “what-if” scenario. We may fear failure, we may even fear success. We may fear the hard work it will take to reach that success or we fear the expectations we think we may have to live up to when we reach that success. It takes many forms, the form of the unknown or speculations. But nothing has ever been proven right or wrong through the act of speculating.

So, don’t speculate the unknown. Don’t sit at rest THINKING about what you THINK might happen if you actually DID something.

That, in itself, would drive a sane person crazy and is cause for psychological evaluation. Hence the fact that the brain undergoes so many tests when it comes to fear.

The Sum-Up

Next time, you find yourself contemplating a big decision that you can’t precisely pinpoint the result of, include all good outcomes in your analysis. Think about the positives involved with this decision and see the whole decision as good.

You’ll no longer fear the unknown because the unknown is all good.

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Until next time, Ramon Smothers