Alterophobia: Afraid of the Other

Chapter I – Anxiety of the Unknown

What can be more terrifying than what we haven’t yet come across? How much our own imagination can travel way beyond our experiences to imagine a negative future?

I was part of a training some years ago in the exact moment when moving to another country, an unknown place for an unknown period of time. When I shared my anxiety with the group, our very experienced facilitator brought what in her definition meant to be anxious. Anxiety, she said, comes with making a negative prediction of the future.

Why would I project a negative future about moving to this new place?

I definitely could find reasons and create stories of a change that wasn’t sucessful, but when taking the time to explore more, I could also find reasons and stories to support the very opposite. My previous experience could inform me that a culture change would mean challenges but also learnings and sweet discoveries.

And in knowing all that, why create a negative version of the future?

I went on to imagine that what makes us (me) anxious has to do with not knowing what story will unfold. Not knowing makes us (me) apprehensive and afraid. Something about not being in control of my story, about not knowing what will happen, that brings up these emotions.

And even if I repeatedly heard the central motto of many self-help books about there: control both the present and the future is a myth, how to actually deal with this?

If with this investigation emerges a possible answer, there might be a self-help book with my name out there one day. 🙂

The next chapter on the Alterophobic series… The Need to Control:

Why do we feel we need to be in control, to create previsibility and a future purpose?

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