The Fear & Anxiety of the Unknown

Do you get anxious? Do you get stressed when you are faced with an unknown scenario? Do you get overwhelmed easily? Do you feel frustrated if you don’t know ‘the plan’?

Often when we think of the ‘unknown’ feelings of being ‘out of control’, anxious, worried, stressed or even panic tend to arise. As humans, we have a tendency towards desiring control, knowing outcomes, planning and organising. In many ways these are wonderful skills, however they only take us so far.

In clinic I work a lot with Anxiety and ‘the unknown’. The ‘what ifs’ are a HUGE part of what anxiety actually is. I spend a lot of my time in clinic helping clients recognise how fixated we are on gaining & maintaining control to avoid feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Feeling a sense of control often creates a sense of safety. When we are out balance we can be driven to gaining control to feel safe.

It makes sense, but are we actually setting ourselves up for failure?

How ‘in control’ of everything can you actually be? You see anxiety is the focus on all the potential ‘what ifs’. Anxiety is us allowing our head to try to factor in every possible scenario and outcome attached, so that we can gain some control by ensuring we have considered every outcome.

Exhausting, tiring, stressful and not really possible. Because when we are trying to ensure we have considered every outcome, often the scenarios involve other people or things entirely outside of our control and it is actually not possible to know what someone else is going to do.

The alternative?

Plan and be prepared for the things you can control and leave the rest up to… well whatever you believe in really- the universe, god, fate, chance, opportunity. This combo here is the body in balance & harmony. The head doing it’s part, planning, strategising & analysing, and then the body doing it’s, by trusting and sitting in our instincts so that we are able to react in accordance with what is actually happening in the scenario.

Now in honour of being authentic & real, I wanted to share that for me, despite this being my specialist area in clinic, I’ve found anxiety rearing it’s ugly head the past few weeks for me.

I always find it interesting when it comes up, because it usually manifests in some obsure way for me. It’s usually a bit discreet. I caught it clearly yesterday as I was leaving the house and for some reason my front door wouldn’t lock. Now I have no attachment to anything I own….. except my dogs (my current babies), the idea of leaving them home behind an unlocked door left me literally shaking with anxiety…..

What if someone comes and opens the door & lets them out. What if they they then get onto the road and run over, or what if they run into the national park and I can’t find them or don’t know where to look, what if someone steals them, what if they figure out how to open the door? (yep, you know what I mean, it can get ridiculous up there in the head)

Now when I stopped myself and being the excellent practitioner that I am & armed with my understanding of anxiety, I started to question myself….

Where in my life do I currently feel out of control? What is unknown for me?

And I realised, despite all the unknowns surrounding me right now, the one that feels the worst is the ‘unknown’ of my maternity leave. I’m constantly being asked when am I finishing up, when am I returning? When will my last date of appointments be? How much time can I actually afford to have off?

And the answer to all of this is I HAVE NO IDEA. We are a self employed family, my reality is little different from those around me who have set maternity plans and dates and this unknown is the one triggering me. Not because I am really that concerned, but because I feel I owe it to others to be certain, sure, organised. I’m actually fairly comfortable with the unplanned, the unknown but it was making me feel like a ‘bad business woman’ by not being sure.

And as a result an anxiety attack manifested itself when two of the things that I love the most in the world (my dogs) and feel completely responsible for their safety were ‘threatened’ (by the terrifying unlocked front door).

So i’m sharing this in the hope to highlight a few things;

  1. Where the anxiety manifests is not always exactly where it’s coming from
  2. It arises when we are trying to control or ‘think through’ unknown factors as opposed to sitting more in a space of dealing with what actually is
  3. When you know what’s going on, you have more ‘control’ then to manage it. This is where control is helpful!
  4. Our body should tell us what is- I am safe, I am unsafe etc- it’s not our heads job to figure this out. The head is useful for other things. Instincts are what actually keep us safe.

And as for me, if you want to know when I’m working up until? Or when I’m returning to work post baby or when my last appointment date is- I have no idea? And as soon as I allowed myself to sit within that, instead of feeling like I needed to know these answers I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER.

I also had my husband fix the front door.


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