Overcoming the Fear of the Unknown During Economic Downturn

People usually fear to change, rather than facing the change single-handedly. Overcoming the Fear of the Unknown is the topic this blog will reflect on. With many articles on Change Management & Process Shifts, this blog will highly support the notion of overcoming the fear of the unknown, by contemplating the positive sides of the pandemic. The HR Network plays a very important role in identifying as well as conquer the fear of the Unknown.

overcoming the fear of the unknown

Long-long ago in the northern part of our world besides the mountain ranges, there were two villages named “Known” and “Unknown” respectively. Overcoming the fear of the unknown is the strength we all need during this pandemic. The people in the villages had peculiar characters that resembled their village names. People from the Unknown village were highly grounded and relied on adapting to the current environment, they always believed in cross-culture adaptation and were multi-skilled, they believed in learning a new skill which made them come out of their comfort zone. E.g. A farmer would also know pottery as a life skill, a carpenter would be well versed in the knowledge of pottery skills. One could simply make out that people from the Unknown village were adaptive and flexible. The people from the Unknown village believed in the philosophy of relooking at their lifestyle and adapting to the changes accordingly. People from the Known village believed in the philosophy of following the pattern (process) set by their ancestors and would avoid making changes to their lifestyle. People from both the villages were put to test when they faced heavy rainfall which turned into floods. Being multi-skilled the Unknown village was able to minimize the effect as everyone quickly adapted to the situation and helped build a diversion of the river stream which helped divert the flood water to the plans and save their property and farmlands. The people from the known village had to face losses as precious time got wasted in realigning with reality.


The Unanswered Questions

What does this story tell us? How should we relate the story to our lives in 2020? The lockdown and COVID 19 have thrown us into a whirlpool where the quick we adapt the quicker we are able to normalize our lives. The story also allows us as an HR fraternity to ask ourselves a few questions.

Q1. As HR Leaders are we doing enough as a part of our role to help our fellow employees to embrace sudden changes in the work culture or environment?

Q2. What according to you should be a part of the vision mission document which becomes a part of the organization’s DNA to adapt to changes happing in the environment?

Q3. What according to you are the 2 critical competencies we should adapt to build ourselves to better embrace the changes around us?

Q4. Why do we Fear the Unknown? Fearing the unknown is natural.


Fear is emotion is inevitable in human life and vital for our growth. If we are capable to balance it and routine it for our benefit, fear is good. Overcoming the fear of the unknown will give us a positive push towards our motivation. A teenager is fearful of his/her academics which pushes him/her to study well and eventually be prepared and earn bright academic marks. I strongly believe the same logic is applicable to our life challenges. If we stretch or add more than the required quantity of anxiety, the result might be disastrous. The UNKNOWN matter of the future keeps us alive and helps us churn our brain cells. The more the brain churns the more we stay alive. The churning of brain activity should be optimum and one should not stretch the stress or think more about the fear which eventually might break us.


Master the Art of Facing the Change

It’s true that challenges are a part of life and such challenging events do happen in everyone’s life but one must be prepared to deal with those events with an open mind. People fear the unknown because they are not sure of their abilities (Skills) to deal with the challenges in the work environment or life. Many of us fail because we aren’t accepting that the only constant is “Change”. Many of us constantly remain in this state and keep thinking that we will fail if something bad happened to us. Call it anxiety or fear we need to understand the various types of fear we all are surrounded with.

  1. Fear of economic uncertainty
  2. Fear of losing a Job
  3. Fear of losing closed ones
  4. Fear of not being valued
  5. Fear of being under-skilled
  6. Fear of being controlled


There are a lot of things in the world that one can’t control, since it’s out of one’s boundary to control. In the same way, being scared or the fear of being judged is common amongst the ones who fear change! How would one overcome the Fear of the Unknown? There is a lot said than done practically in the current situation. People are living under a dark impression of times, some of the questions can be used to introspect to help you analyse the process you have taken. Q1. What do you fear? Q2. What is the worst that can happen? Q3. What functions are in your hand, that you can change this situation of stress and fear? Every employer needs to devise a plan that can help you get out of the situation. This idea strikes when your mind is relaxed and destressed. Being proactive also helps to overcome our fears related to uncertainty in life. Some people are better able to cope with the challenges life throws at them but that doesn’t mean we should start blaming ourselves for our faults. Counting our blessings and recollecting our successes can help us come out of our stress, rather than focusing on our failures. This can be an effective way to deal with the fear of the unknown. It’s time to deep dive and discover the fears first & then get back to overcoming them.


Overcoming the Fear of the Unknown in 6 Ways


1. Have a Positive Attitude

It’s always better to be open to change, but simultaneously one has to be equally prepared to face the worse. Being pre-equipped with the essential equipment is smart work. Planning involves also involves finances that meets one’s unexpected expenses during times of need.


2. Self-Awareness

Trusting your abilities is to control your life amidst disruptive change. If you are not sure if you will be able to cope with a certain situation, those uncertainties will keep haunting you.


3. Count Your Blessings

It’s a Human Thing, each one of us has ups and downs. Be a self-researcher and recollect the good aspects of your life. The outcome is a genuine “SMILE”, enough to remove the stress and bring back the focus on what is needed to be done and bring the control back on your inner fears. This makes you more self-sufficient and ready to keep up with the new adventures of life.


4. Learning Agility

Developing new skills is easily miss understood as investing in courses which come with a premium price tag, well not really, in times of stress and fear of the unknown one can start with learning small skills which help divert our mind from the negation and focus on the positives. Our brain at times needs a creative break to rearrange the arsenal to fight the fear and gain more confidence in our abilities. At times, post validation you can take the help of a subject matter expert who may use coaching or professional guidance to set short-term and long-term goals and start working hard to achieve those goals.

Read More on: Overcome Fear & Be Ready to Succeed at your Workplace


5. Learn to Accept Disappointment

If you see the sequence of ways to overcome the fear of the unknown you will realize that human doesn’t win all the battles in their life. Losing is a part of the outcome and at times we can be a guest.  We need to realize that it’s our failures in life that make us try harder and learn new skills and achieve our goals. Accept Failure once in a while, this routine helps you stand out during these states of uncertainty.


6. Embrace Change

“The one thing that is permanent in our life is change” as if I have a choice. Well, one has to realize that if we don’t have a choice why waste time and effort on illusions. Understand, accept and move on with it. Change is inevitable, & that is the only constant that remains, the best way to deal with change is to accept it. Game of Life is well played with uncertainty and unpredictability as a part of our team. Relate to the above 5 ways and you would conclude that we have to learn the trick to accept the changes happening around us, best is to predict and move on in life. Replace the fear of the unknown with curiosity and let’s learn how to embrace change and be curious to Learn.

“The only way to make sense of the change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance” – Alan W Watts

HR & L&D Consultant – Behavioral & Management Solutions. With 17+ years of experience in handling Competency Mapping, Behavioural Learning, OD and HR Performance Development
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