“We will continue to fear the unknown. There will always be dragons on our maps and in our minds, but learning how to slay the dragons can be a life skill for us to teach our children and ourselves.”

Drawn on some of the older maps made by cartographers in the middle ages, you will find beasts or sea creatures rising out of the water. On one famous globe from the 15th century there are the words “here are dragons” written on it.  It is from this globe that many of the vintage-looking maps made today have inscribed the words “here be dragons” and the phrase has become part of folklore.

The dragons or beasts found on some of those old maps makes sense when you think about it. We as humans are afraid of the unknown and back then much of the world was “unknown”. So drawing a dragon or sea creature on the map was a way to communicate, “we do not know what is out there so you should be careful and afraid.”

The actual term for fearing the unknown is “xenophobia”. In recent years this term has been used mostly to describe fearing an unknown person / stranger. By definition when we are fearing the unknown, we are acting xenophobic. The reason we fear the unknown is that as human beings we spend our lives negotiating and planning for the future. Every morning we wake up and are making decisions and going through the day living in the here and now but working towards and anticipating the future. The problem with the unknown is that when we do not know much about something or someone we cannot predict the future and what the possible outcomes might be. This inability to predict the future creates anxiety and uncertainty in our minds which ultimately leads to the emotion of fear.

There are some things we can do to lessen the fear of the unknown for ourselves and our children.
  • Try to do some research. As you learn more, the unknown becomes known and many of your fears may dissipate.
  • Pay attention to the predictions you are making (in your head) that are creating the fear and evaluate them to see if they are actually valid.
  • Stay grounded in the here and now and don’t let your imagination run away with your predictions of the future. Remember last week we learned that 92% of our fears are not actually based in reality or are legitimate.
  • Talk to someone about it. Often just talking with someone helps you to think it through and lowers your anxiety and lessens your fears.
We will continue to fear the unknown. There will always be dragons on our maps and in our minds, but learning how to slay the dragons can be a life skill for us to teach our children and ourselves.

Written by Karl Steinkamp

Karl Steinkamp is passionate about Dalat International School and training up young people. Karl was a student at Dalat and returned with a degree in education as a student teacher, high school principal, and now Head of School since 2006.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on tumblr
Share on telegram

Recent Reflection Articles

PhoboPhobia

The world has its dangers and we need to be careful but the earth is an amazing and wonderful place with so much to experience and explore.

Walking Through a Spider’s Web

Whether it is a harmless spider web or a truly fearful event in our lives, having a better understanding of our natural responses can help us better face the situation and minimize its impact on us and our children.

SHARE