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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Recognizing Our Anxieties

The first way to minimize culture shock is to recognize our anxieties. It is perfectly normal to be afraid of new situations because of the uncertainties they contain. Fear is an important human response that alerts us to respond to immediate and specific dangers. In the long run, however, fear can turn into an anxiety-a feeling of uneasiness and dread of some vague, unknown danger. In a sense, it is a fear of the uncertainties we face in new settings. It is this anxiety, not specific fears, that is the most damaging part of culture shock.

How can we deal with anxiety when we do not even know what the enemy is? One way is to pinpoint specific anxieties, to recognize them so that we can deal with them. When we consciously look at our dreads, we find that many of them are unfounded. Others can be eliminated by making changes in our lifestyles since most of them will leave if we learn how to live in the new culture. It helps greatly to know that we are normal when we experience anxieties and that we can learn ways to deal with anxieties instead of covering them up and hoping they will go away. Paul Hiebert, Anthropological Insights for Missionaries

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