Fear of the Unknown – Part I – What is it Really About?
I would be hard pressed to tell you how often I have heard someone say, “I want to do this or that, but I am afraid.” I am quite fascinated with human behavior and what drives it. I am usually led to ask, “Afraid of what?” I am quite often met with the response: “Afraid of the unknown.” I have spent many an hour in the fields with my horses contemplating this response.
Isn’t it interesting that, as adults, when we have all the faculties around us to protect ourselves, we seem to have more fear of the unknown than children seem to have? I wondered why children have less fear around this than adults so I went looking for the answer. I found it at The National Institute for Play.
How do children deal with the unknown? They play.
Children are vulnerable, but they have an instinct in them that they call upon when they want to explore something that’s “unknown”, they create a fantastical context (“play”) to explore that unknown. They will often role play. I feel this is one reason the Vista Caballo Experience is so effective. It allows adults to “role play.” It takes them out of the familiar and creates a new context for them to explore a new way of being–or a new role. They get to try it on for size–and see how it fits. If they like it, they keep it. If they don’t, they discard it. It’s that simple.
Have we lost our ability to play?
Somewhere along the line, as adults, we tend to lose the ability to face our fear of the unknown as we move away from play and into the “real world.” We become “passive players” watching our heroes and heroines on tv, in movies, in books or on the sports fields. In this way we get to “play” while in the safety of our comfort zones. Perhaps the unknown would be less scary if we “played” more. If we became our own heroes or heroines. So I created the Vista Caballo Signature Experience so we could do that. We could have our own hero/heroine journey.
Albert Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited; imagination circles the world.” Why don’t we play more? Somehow we equate play with immaturity. And that’s why we leave it behind. But if you look at some of the greatest productivity, it comes from creativity - and that creativity comes from the ability to imagine and play. One final important consideration in looking at the unknown is this: in my mind there is no such thing as the unknown. It’s impossible if you think about it because something knows it, right?
Think of it this way – if I go to a busy marketplace in Marrakesh, I could easily say “Oh, I’m going into the unknown.” But every single person in that marketplace knows that marketplace, so it’s not unknown. The real unknown is, how and who I am in that environment – an environment that is new to me. That is what is really unknown. As we often say at Vista Caballo, sometimes all it takes is a shift in perspective.
Have you lost your sense of play? What do you do to get it back?
Check out the Fear of the Unknown - Part II post for some very specific ways to can get more creative, explore your imagination, play and overcome your fear of the unknown.