When we know what to expect in the future, we can prepare. This gives us control. But what if we don’t know what the future holds? How do we cope with fear of the unknown?
“Thankfully, I still have my husband,” writes Beth on Help and Hope When You’re Living Alone After the Death of a Spouse. “But tonight, after talking to a very sick friend, I had a huge panic attack. My blood pressure skyrocketed, and I started sobbing uncontrollably. All I could think of was how ALONE I’ll be if I lose my husband. We don’t have children or close friends to call. So I flipped out. I suddenly realized how alone I’ll be, and it petrified me. Please help, tell me how to cope with my fear of the unknown!”
Here, I’ll share a few practical, emotional, and spiritual tips for coping with fear of the unknown — starting with a message from a reader who is facing imminent cancer surgery.
“I too am facing fear of the unknown,” says Sandy in my She Blossoms Facebook group. “I’m having surgery for breast cancer. I’m learning to let go of what I cannot control, count all of my blessings, focus on the good, and trust that all in this world is far beyond we will ever truly know.”
Sandy adds that she trusts God, and is handing over her life to the higher power of faith prayer and spirituality.
“Trust that we are all but a small part of a magnificent unfolding journey,” she says. “When you’re scared of the unknown, take small steps forward. Don’t suppress or avoid your emotions. Express your feelings and take all offers of love and support and help, no matter how small. Many many people have and will travel the same journey as you… and you will find acts of kindness you could never imagine. Peace will come through God.”
3 Ways to Cope With Fear of the Unknown
These are the three ideas that immediately come to my mind. I used to spend sleepless nights worrying about tomorrow — until I realized that my anxiety just made everything worse! So I taught myself how to stop worrying, and how to let the future take care of itself.
If you know exactly what you’re worried about (fear of living alone after you lose your husband or boyfriend), read How to Deal With Your Fear of Being Alone.
1. Recognize who you’re leaning on
The biggest events of our lives aren’t always planned. Worse, they often blow into our lives without warning!
Sometimes our most painful situations are caused by decisions other people make; other times we’re struck by random accidents or tragic “acts of God.” We find ourselves in situations we never would’ve chosen, coping with painful emotions and difficult people we never thought we’d encounter. Sometimes we’re forced to let go of loved ones, treasured times, precious places, and long-held dreams.
Whatever is coming your way is coming your way. You’ll walk through that season of your life, just like you walked through your past circumstances. Maybe you can walk through the upcoming season with more confidence and faith because of your past experiences. Maybe you’ve learned how to trust God, and allow His will to unfold in your life.
If you’re allowing your fear and anxiety to control your thoughts, then you aren’t trusting God. You’re not allowing His peace or joy infuse your life. You’re not leaning on your faith. If you’re struggling to cope with your fear of the unknown, then you’ve allowed yourself to become your god. If you’re scared of the future then you’re leaning on yourself. And you have every right to be scared, because you don’t have what it takes to face the future alone.
2. Take action in specific ways
Living by faith — and trusting God with your fear of the unknown — doesn’t mean you just sit back and wait for your life to unfold! I love that He requires us to take action. He wants us to actively participate in our lives, to be part of what He’s doing in the world. To be part of His story.
A practical tip for coping with fear of the unknown is to think about what actions you can take now. What can you control about your future? If you’re anxious about being left alone after your husband dies, then start building relationships with friends. Get involved with groups, volunteer organizations, community events, church functions! Do something that brings you alive, that helps you Blossom into who God created you to be.
If you struggle to trust God, read Do You Struggle to Let Things Go? 5 Ways to Live by Faith.
3. Know that there is a time for everything
You can prepare yourself, but you also must accept that there’s a time for every season in your life. One of my favorite books in the Bible is Ecclesiastes, and one of my favorite passages is 3:1-8:
A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
There is a time for you to be alone, lost, and bereaved. And there’s a time to be delighted, enchanted, excited! There’s a time for you to cope with your fears of an unknown future…and there’s a time to rest in the peace and faith of Jesus Christ.
You can choose some of the seasons of your life. For example, if you’re struggling with a season of anxiety and fear, you can find healthy ways to cope with your feelings. You can get help. You can practice your faith and run the race God has set before you.
But the one season you’ll never escape is the “unknown future.” The only solution is to learn how to trust God as you move forward in your life, to practice peace, acceptance, and faith.
What do you think? How have you coped with your fear of the unknown in the past? Writing about your fears — and how you plan to deal with them — is one of the best ways to find peace and healing. Spend time reflecting and writing quietly. Open your heart and mind to God, and let Him give you comfort and reassurance.