Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Gift of Fear

Borepatch's last post reminded me of a book I recently read. The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. He's in the business of protecting people, celebrities, Supreme Court Justices, and the like. The book came out about 15 years ago and was #1 on the bestseller list.

What Borepatch shared happens all the time, is depressingly predictable, and isn't going to be stopped by a restraining order.
 “Every day, people engaged in the clever defiance of their own intuition become, in mid-thought, victims of violence and accidents. So when we wonder why we are victims so often, the answer is clear: It is because we are so good at it. A woman could offer no greater cooperation to her soon-to-be attacker than to spend her time telling herself, “But he seems like such a nice man.” Yet this is exactly what many people do. A woman is waiting for an elevator, and when the doors open she sees a man inside who causes her apprehension. Since she is not usually afraid, it may be the late hour, his size, the way he looks at her, the rate of attacks in the neighborhood, an article she read a year ago—it doesn’t matter why. The point is, she gets a feeling of fear. How does she respond to nature’s strongest survival signal? She suppresses it, telling herself: “I’m not going to live like that, I’m not going to insult this guy by letting the door close in his face.” When the fear doesn’t go away, she tells herself not to be so silly, and she gets into the elevator. Now, which is sillier: waiting a moment for the next elevator, or getting into a soundproofed steel chamber with a stranger she is afraid of? The inner voice is wise, and part of my purpose in writing this book is to give people permission to listen to it.”
― Gavin de Becker, writing in The Gift of Fear


Old NFO said...

Well said, that niggling little voice in the back of the head IS right more often than not... sigh

Tass said...

Back in the 90's I saw Mr. DeBecker on a talk show. The thing that stuck with me was the word "No" is a complete sentence. You don't owe an apology or explanation to anyone. It isn't necessary to do something that makes you uncomfortable for the sole purpose of avoiding hurting someone else's feelings. Like the woman in the elevator.

Anonymous said...

De Becker has another book, Fear Less, that expands on The Gift of Fear. Jeff Wise wrote Extreme Fear about how the brain deals with, or doesn't deal with, fear, and why. I use all 3 in my NRA classes (F.I.R.S.T Steps, Basic Pistol and Refuse to be a Victim), along with Michael Bane's Trail Safe

Tass, above, has it exactly right: you do not have to explain "no" but it's better to not get into a situation where you have to use "no."