FOFO, the fear of getting to know

FOFO, fear of getting to know

FOFO, “Fear of Finding Out”, is a psychological condition that can be defined as the “afraid to come to know” and it occurs when we keep information away for fear of discovering something unpleasant

What is FOFO?

With the term FOFO if it indicates a psychological block which leads to avoiding information that could impact our lives. This term initially spread in the medical field to describe when, faced with a condition of malaise, one is afraid to investigate further, for fear of the repercussions on one’s condition. We currently know that FOFO characterizes many contexts, from work, to money management, to even relationships. This is the case, for example, when we avoid monitoring expenses or deadlines or when we ignore some problems, in order not to take charge of them. In various contexts, FOFO can lead to a strong sense of anxiety and worry, such as to trigger a “block”, given by the fear of discovering something negative or unpleasant.

How to recognize FOFO?

FOFO can manifest itself in many areas and in different ways, for this reason it is not always easy to learn to recognize it. Here are some signs you should pay attention to.

● Ignore deadlines
● Procrastinate activities
● Avoid delving into legal and regulatory issues in which you are involved
● Avoid feedback or ratings
● Avoid clarifications in relationships
● Not having honest and deep conversations

FOFO can affect many areas and situations, therefore, it is useful to consider all its possible manifestations within daily life.

Why do we prefer to avoid?

The fear described in the FOFO is manifested by avoiding information that could highlight a potential problem, lest we face the reality that comes with it. However, refusing to analyze or reevaluate what is not going well could lead to exacerbating personal, medical, economic, work or relational difficulties, with consequences that are often much more difficult to manage.

So why do you prefer to avoid? Avoidance is one response strategy to fear and anxiety very frequent in the human being which leads to keeping away situations that are perceived as dangerous. When faced with a real or imagined threat, the brain produces an alarm reaction that often leads to avoid the danger. The avoidance therefore, it has its own functionality for survival and is, in fact, a very frequent behavior. But when it limits the possibilities for action in the individual or leads to pejorative repercussions, it loses its adaptive value, becoming the main response to anxiety, as happens in FOFO

When change scares uswe tend to preserve our status quo, even going as far as, at times, into a closed attitude towards new information, in order not to run the risk of compromising current security. Indeed, one is not always ready to face the truth; knowing it, in some cases, can mean getting out of the usual schemes, questioning the certainties acquired and facing a change.
If we fear the catastrophic scope of some events, FOFO will lead us to avoid the information we need, in order to actually try to avoid the negative consequences that could derive from it.
Typically, people with FOFO may experience a fear of losing control, but he may also feel the fear of not being able to handle the emotional impact of moving beyond his certainties.
Avoidance offers a momentary benefit to anxiety, but in the long run it can lead to blocks, somatizations or trigger a vicious cycle of unpleasant thoughts and anxiety, negatively impacting the individual and the situation itself. FOFO can have consequences for a person’s mental health and general well-being.

To know more:
Anxiety: What it is, Causes, Symptoms and Anxiety Disorders

How to manage FOFO

The reasons at the basis of FOFO can be different from person to person: we may not feel able to face reality, but also overwhelmed and without energy to take charge of it. In some cases, knowing new information could mean running into failure or, perhaps, not finding our value confirmed.

In fact, we often overestimate the impact that some awareness could have on our lives. We associate knowing with action, but it’s important to understand that knowledge and change are not necessarily connected: the knowledge of some information does not always lead to abandon certainties or to revolutionize one’s life. Awareness can enrich the range of possibilities within the personal choice process. On the contrary, the more we avoid knowing information, the less we will feel able to face changes, further fueling our sense of bewilderment and lack of effectiveness.

To overcome the FOFO is important learn to recognize the moments when fear is leading us to avoid information and this can prove to be a good opportunity to get to know yourself and your thoughts better. To better manage FOFO it could be useful to talk about it with a professional and learn to deal with anxious avoidance with greater awareness. Fear is an emotion that deserves to be listened to and welcomed: learning to listen to it, rather than avoiding it, can make the difference in times of difficulty and in our choices.


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