Most of us are taught from a young age to be fearful of strangers. If not fearful at least wary, very wary.
We ensure a person ‘proves’ themselves rather than trust them initially, we think or are led to believe this will help keep us safe. Safe from these unknown, non-specific but often thought about dangers.
In the rare instance that that particular ‘stranger’ actually poses a real threat this approach seems wise, necessary even and parents worldwide unite in their well-meaning, and yes sometimes necessary, fear-based approach to strangers.
I am not for a moment saying don’t keep your children safe or teach awareness. I am a Mum, I get it and I have taught and supported ‘stranger danger’ but in this process how many people do we unfairly judge?
How many opportunities for new connections and relationships do we miss? And how much of this fear taught to protect us as a child do we carry into adulthood? What does this underlying and almost constant fear or wariness do to our experience of life?
I know this might be controversial, it may even trigger some but here is what got me thinking about this. As I worked with more and more people who were reluctant to try anything new, as I explored my own reluctance to try new things and take a risk I started to wonder something and I asked myself a question.
As we grow do we replace our fear of strangers with a fear of ‘strangeness’?
A fear or again at best a wariness of anything that appears strange, anything that appears ‘strange’ from our limited experience, from our current perspective.
This means anything different! Anything we haven’t yet experienced, even those things we may deeply desire, can now be in the ‘strangers’ category. Something to be at best wary of and at worst fearful of and therefore to avoid.
Do we deem them as ‘strange’ automatically, sub consciously, and therefore we put up, again sub consciously, our ‘stranger’ barrier?
What if we were taught to approach strangers and therefore ‘strangeness’ with curiosity, respect, intuition and even eagerness with an understanding of the possibility of experiencing, connecting with and even learning something new?
Statistics will sadly tell us those closest to us pose the greatest risk to us yet still we teach this fear of strangers.
Familiarity can be our growth’s greatest threat, yet we fear and avoid ‘strangeness’. Familiarity can be the greatest barrier to us reaching our potential and living a fulfilled life. Yet we remain fearful of and reluctant to embrace ‘strangeness’, something or someone seemingly different.
What if we decided to follow our intuition and not our often prejudiced or at least unfounded fears.
Is ‘strangeness’ our enemy or is in fact familiarity?