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Ying & Yang Living Wisdom & Wellness: How to Embrace the Unknown to Let go of Familiar Suffering

By Moon Cho

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ― Thich Nhat Hahn

How many times have you prevented yourself from trying something new because of the unknown. This can be manifested in small ways, such as not wanting to try a new cuisine, or in much bigger ways, such as staying in a bad relationship because of the fear of being alone. We naturally like to live in our comfort zone, which can be great, but when our lives change and the status quo is no longer working, we resist change and prefer to live in the suffering state — just because it is familiar.

We often see this in wives who are abused physically and verbally abused by their husbands, but still stay in their marriages because of the fear of being by themselves. They are scared of the independence, so they would rather suffer through the marriage. For these women, they truly believe that they have no other choice, which has a lot to due with their low self esteem. In the meantime, they are destroying themselves and, in turn, their children, as they have not set a good example.

My father practiced the same familiar suffering in a different way. Growing up, we would always hear him complain about the Korean carpenter, plumber, banker, et al, but whom did he end up hiring: the Korean carpenter, plumber, and banker. Why didn’t he try the American plumber, because, for my father, it was the devil he knew vs. the devil he didn’t know. In my own life, I have always had a hard time with technology and always resisted learning how to use new gadgets, new apps, etc. In an age of rapidly changing technology, as an entrepreneur, it is imperative to use technology and to have some knowledge in them to succeed in my own business. While I admit that I will never really enjoy learning about technology, I know that it is good medicine for my business.

A huge part of our personal growth and transformation is to learn, and we only learn when we try new things. We are not meant to be on a stagnant journey, but to change with the times. We need to be proactive about trying new things. This doesn’t mean that you should just dive in. It is like going into the water, test it out slowly. First, feel the water with one foot. If that feels good, then slowly put in the other foot, and if both feet feel good, then you can start to put in your hand, arm, etc. The next thing you know, your whole body is in the water, and you realize that the water was not so bad after all. The result feeling you often get is: “It really wasn’t that bad as I thought,” right?

Our fear of the unknown is really just the fear we fabricate in our own minds, and does not have anything to do with reality. The reality is a world of unlimited possibilities, which you can tap into if you are open to it. So shift your thoughts, and look at the unknown as not a negative experience, but as a positive one, which can bring you infinite opportunities. Don’t let the unknown stop you from living your best life. Become friends with it and live with familiar happiness rather than familiar suffering.

In the words of my wise sister, So, to her son, “The unknown is not an obstacle, but rather a challenging adventure,” so adventure we seek!

Moon Cho is the Creator of Ying & Yang Living, a healthy lifestyle resource that provides Asian living tips in food, home, garden, health, fitness, fashion, beauty, and Asian wisdoms for your spiritual wellness. To receive all our free Asian living tips, please visit Ying & Yang Living website.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Cho, Moon "Ying & Yang Living Wisdom & Wellness: How to Embrace the Unknown to Let go of Familiar Suffering." Ying & Yang Living Wisdom & Wellness: How to Embrace the Unknown to Let go of Familiar Suffering. 17 Oct. 2012. 14 Sep 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Cho, M (2012, October 17). Ying & Yang Living Wisdom & Wellness: How to Embrace the Unknown to Let go of Familiar Suffering. Retrieved September 14, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Cho, Moon "Ying & Yang Living Wisdom & Wellness: How to Embrace the Unknown to Let go of Familiar Suffering"

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