Dead Men Tell no Tales – Fear of the Unknown

Man standing och pier, looking out the ocean and stares at a boat in the horizon.
Fear of the unknown / Biggest fear / Fear / Uncategorized

Dead Men Tell no Tales – Fear of the Unknown

Man standing och pier, looking out the ocean and stares at a boat in the horizon.

Dead Men Tell no Tales: Fear of the Unknown

Intuition is a wonderful tool for assessing the world around us, an ability that we all possess, but whose recommendations we do not always listen to. Intuition, seemingly not based on real facts and logical conclusions, allows you to form a direct perception of an object, sensation, or situation “on a hunch,” “automatically,” and “in conformance with the dictates of the heart.” 

But it is too unreliable and unverifiable a tool to be relied upon in our rational society, isn’t it?

Intuition can be extremely useful, but rational thinking fostered by upbringing and education makes it a remote and inaccessible tool for most adults. 

Children not yet spoiled by regular education have a much warmer relationship with intuition. 

Since this ability is innate, 4-month-old babies show an intuitive fear in relation to threats, the dangers of which they cannot be aware, having no practical data on this matter.

A snake is a perfect example of an unfamiliar irritant for a small baby. 

The instinctive repulsion of snakes by babies has been known for a very long time: in particular, it was reflected in the Greek myth of the newborn Hercules, who strangled two snakes as soon as they had the stupidity to get too close to him.

It is noteworthy that as babies get older, they seem to lose their innate intuitive fear of snakes: for example, 6-month-old babies do not experience any fear of snakes. 

It seems that within a mere 60 days, the entire concept of threat posed by these reptiles can completely disappear from their genetic memory.

This is where we find the actions of parents influencing a child’s outlook. 

When parents see a snake crawling up to a 6-month-old baby playing in the grass, they rush at full speed to their child and shout to him to stay away from the snake, even if the culprit of the commotion is a completely harmless non-poisonous snake. 

So, not only can parents expedite the switching off of a child’s innate intuition, they immediately show up to replace it with rational knowledge, further forcing this skill to the recesses of the mind. 

In the end, in dealing with snakes, a much better strategy is to respect a child’s personal space, and not rush headlong towards them.

Snakes are a great example because the idea of an uneasy relationship with snakes runs like a red thread throughout human civilization.

So, intuition does its job: children are instinctively cautious of snakes, spiders, the dark, dogs, strangers, and a host of other things long before they realize the very concept of fear or have the opportunity to draw on their own negative experiences. 

If the parents had not had time to act as knights in shining armor and save their child from the slippery hissing monster, then it is quite possible that they would soon find this child sobbing bitterly due to a snake’s bleeding bite. 

The physical pain from this bite will pass quickly, but the psychological mark from it will remain, perhaps for life: no experiences are remembered as sharply as the earliest ones, so, it is quite possible that your child, after such an adventure, will fear and hate snakes all his life. 

In short, fear is a defensive reaction to the dangers of the world, and we can instill this defensive reaction in our children, or – if we do not rush to their aid – it will be done for us by the world itself.

I remember a great time when my baby was about six months old: we could leave him alone in another room, and he would not start screaming, crying, and looking for us. 

No intuitive fears: he just sat and played. 

Two months later, when he was eight months old, we couldn’t leave the room without him crying and searching for us. 

He was afraid of the unknown and wanted to be close to his mom and dad so he could feel safe. 

It’s so natural for any of us. 

Even when we become adults, we want to feel safe and stay within our comfort zone. 

And – good news! – our intuition is still with us, even if we do not know about it. 

It is necessary to pull it out of the chest of the subconscious and shake off dust and mothballs – but it will help us navigate the world and ensure our safety.

Snakes are not the only hazards that await us in life. 

Life is a damn unpredictable thing that can scare even a snake tamer. 

And the most unpredictable and frightening thing is certainly death. 

At the same time, it is also the most inevitable thing. 

However, it is interesting that it is not the very moment the body stops functioning that people who are afraid of death most fear. 

They have more serious fears. 

First, they do not know what will happen next. 

Hell, what else could be more frightening than the unknown? 

After all, any successful religion has gained its status precisely because it clearly explains to its worshippers what will happen after death. 

Secondly, few people are lucky enough to die in their sleep; most often, the arrival of death is accompanied by a frightening miscellany of sorrow and suffering. 

It must be admitted that readiness for death is not included in our preset program.

The fact that no one has the slightest idea of what awaits us beyond the threshold of death has created another brilliant paradox: no one has an answer to the main question of human existence. 

This gives limitless opportunities to representatives of all religions. 

And since it is still impossible to check the “facts,” prophets and preachers promise their target audiences exactly what most likely touches hearts, softens brains, and opens wallets.


The uncertainty of being, associated with the unpredictability of the moment and form of death is probably the most frightening thing in our lives. 

A solid foundation for our quest to try to control everything we can get our hands on. 

Religion is an attempt to form some conditions for an agreement with higher powers about the rules of the game; with the sole purpose of controlling the world, life, and the future. 

Ancient pagan religions promised such control through the performance of certain rituals, and more advanced ones promise it through the fulfillment of commandments, but the essence of this does not change.

Uncertainty scares us so much that we would rather accept the negative consequences than agree to endure this uncertainty. 

As they say, “better a horrible end than horror without end.” 

This, by the way, may mean that if the conditional snake behaves in an indeterminate way, then you need to hit it with a stick so that it decides on a strategy towards you. 

“Better a horrible end than a horror without end.” 

Not surprisingly, fear of the unknown can have the most devastating effects on our psyches – panic disorder, eating disorder, health anxiety, separation anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even substance use.

There is hardly a more universal solution to such problems than an appeal to a psychotherapist or psychologist. 

And while you’re considering this option, I’ll tell you about a study done on mammals. 

It turned out that if mammals experienced fear of unknown objects introduced to their environment, they first rushed back to a familiar and safe place. 

They avoided unknown objects until their fear level was low enough to allow them to explore the unknown territory where they first encountered the object. 

From their point of view, the unknown object “has decided on a strategy,” and this strategy is not hostile.

And here is where it gets most interesting. 

Because we need to manage our fear if we want to realize our dreams. 

Any attempt to fulfill your dream is, first of all, a decisive exit from the comfort zone.

Which, as we understand it, immediately causes the strongest fear of the unknown. 

This fear can take many forms. 

Fear of public speaking, failure, victory, relationships, loneliness, drinking, aging, flying, breaking up relationships, trying to start a new career, starting a business, or speaking the truth is just a short list of manifestations of a global fear of the unknown. 

We can turn a blind eye to this fear, or disguise it under the label of “less frightening fears,” but if we bravely face the truth, then it’s all about the unknown, and every member of our species deals with it in one way or another.

Just like Lovecraft said in 1927: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and most powerful kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

I am afraid of the unknown because I am unable to control the future in all its diversity.

Will I have a heart attack? 

How will the environment react if I fail? 

Will my plane reach the airport? 

Will my startup be successful? 

How will my new novel turn out? 

Am I going to do the right thing if I quit my disgusting job?

There are too many questions and too few opportunities to get reliable answers. 

Perhaps the solution is to listen to your heart and surrender to its sensations – jump over the unknown and try to see what lies next. 

This, in fact, is called intuition, and we have lived our adult life, diligently replacing it with common sense and objective facts.

However, if you have dreams about the future, you need to go through the dark forest of uncertainty and face all these inner demons in order to gain inner confidence and get rid of the eternal fear of the unknown forever.

Introspective and thought-provoking, Bronnie Ware’s writings about deathbed stories allow us to reflect on the regrets that many people experience as they face the end of their lives. 

Her observations highlight the importance of living a life true to oneself, expressing feelings and emotions, and maintaining deep connections with friends and family. 

In this way, she provides a window into the minds of the dying, revealing the wisdom that can be gleaned from the end of life. 

It is a wonderful opportunity to be in the shoes of those who already have one foot in another world and feel what they feel.

Ware’s first observation concerns the importance of living a life true to oneself and not trying to live up to the expectations of others. 

Many people regret not following their dreams, instead living a life based on the expectations of family, friends, and society. 

On the threshold of death, we get rid of the social husk and get the opportunity to see the world in all its reality and completeness. 

Only then do we begin to understand the importance of fulfilling our own desires, no matter how difficult or unusual they may be.

The second regret Ware points out is working too hard. 

In our modern society, where work-life balance can be difficult to achieve, many people are forced to work long hours, sacrificing time with family and friends in pursuit of career success. 

However, as we near the end of our lives, we realize that work cannot replace the joy and fulfillment that comes from spending time with those we love. 

The lesson here is clear: make time to enjoy life, spend time with loved ones, and pursue hobbies and interests outside of work.

Ware’s third observation focuses on the importance of expressing emotions and feelings.

Many people suppress their emotions in order to keep peace with loved ones, but this can lead to a mediocre life full of bitterness. 

By expressing our feelings, we can build stronger and more fulfilling relationships and live our own lives that are as close to our nature as possible.

The fourth regret that Ware talks about is the loss of connection with friends. 

As we age, it’s easy to lose touch with old friends as we focus more and more on work, family, and other responsibilities. 

But as we near the end of our lives, we realize the value of the deep connections we have made over the years. 

The lesson here is clear: make time for your friends, prioritize those relationships, and cherish the memories you made together.

Finally, Ware’s fifth observation concerns the importance of happiness. 

Many people spend their lives in comfortable habits and patterns that create a sense of stability and control but rob them of the chance to make the changes that can lead to happiness. 

However, as we approach death, we realize the importance of taking risks, accepting new experiences, and finding joy in the world around us.


Each of us hides our own personal demon, waiting for the right moment to take possession of us and subdue us to his will. 

This demon can take many forms – gambling, sex, alcohol, food, sweets, drugs, depression, anxiety, anger, or injustice. 

Of course, we self-confidently convince ourselves that we keep our demons under control, but if we look deep enough, we can see an image of who we will become if we continue on this path. 

The guilt and pain that will come if we succumb to our demons will be unbearable, and every effort should be made not to be afraid to look our demons in the eye and bravely confront them face to face.

Our ego is often the source of our inner demons. 

We are too self-confident, and too ready to indulge ourselves, we perceive any attempts to discipline our ego as direct attacks on our independence. 

Oh, that little rascal with horns and a tail on our left shoulder who tempts us with short-term pleasures at the expense of our long-term happiness! It would be convenient to say goodbye to him forever, but then we would not have a reason and opportunity for self-improvement. 

On the other hand, we have our inner self, our angel, a cool guy in white, dangling his legs from our right shoulder: he knows what we really need, and offers something opposite to pleasure – self-improvement through self-discipline and suffering. 

It’s a damn hard choice, but we must learn to listen to our inner angel, even if it means momentary pain and discomfort. 

Simply because it is self-improvement through self-discipline that is the path of a person in this world; it was for the passage of this curriculum that we arrived here, and it will not work to copy the correct answers from a neighbor’s desk – a person passes life’s exams again and again. 

Until he passes these exams. 

However, if he does not pass his exams in this life, then he has to do this in subsequent ones (reincarnation).

In conjunction with our inner demons, we have a calling or a dream, which is an expression of a fundamental desire of our higher selves. 

Our dreams give us a clear idea of the life we want to live, but we have to choose whether to follow them or not. 

If we choose to be the person of our dreams, we must abandon the comfortable and familiar “controlled” world and be ready to go headlong into the unknown. 

Trying to push the dream into the background and forget about it can be futile: our dreams do not go away – they become bigger and more painful until we can no longer ignore them. 

We become bitter and devastated, full of regret that we did not have the courage to pursue our dreams. 

This is probably the heaviest burden that a person can come to the end of life with.

Because it is then, on the edge of eternity, that for the first and last time, we are fully confronted with the transcendence, with the existentialism of our choice. 

If we don’t follow our dreams, fear becomes our chains, dragging us down until we lay on our deathbed as slaves to our own regrets. 

The cold darkness of death surrounds us, and we remember all the things we wanted to do but didn’t dare to try, all the words we wanted to say but never said. 

The weight of our remorse weighs on us, choking us to the last breath. 

What could be more terrible than the acute realization that life has been lived in vain?

But, until the hour of death has come, we have a choice. 

As frightening as our dreams may be, they are still not as frightening as the prospect of dying without having ever truly lived. 

We must confront our inner demons, listen to our inner angel, and boldly and confidently stride toward our dreams. 

This is a difficult path, but it leads to a fulfilling life and to the achievement of the goal.

“Stop being afraid!” – as my father used to say. 

– “We only live once, so let’s pursue our dreams without fearing judgment!”

Sometimes I bloody miss him.

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This text is from "Born to be a Man - Chapter 1: Dead Men Tell no Tales"

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Born to be a Man: A Journey of Personal Transformation, Fatherhood, and Leadership