A friend suggested I read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. It is probably the best self-help book suggestions I’ve ever been given.
The Gift of Fear tells us that what most of us consider fear is actually anxiety, because real fear is a survival signal that causes us to react in a way to fight for our lives. The author also gives several examples of when and why we should fear something, and there are several warning signs to look for before we should react. De Becker also notes that our intuition is the number one thing that alerts us to fear – but most people are in denial. He includes examples in the workplace, families, dating, and dealing with strangers.
A few weeks ago a strange man had approached me in a store. I had an odd feeling about him when he asked me if I was “Jim Tate’s wife”, as he suggestively looked me up and down and stood a little too close for my comfort. I got the impression that he’d made up “Jim Tate” altogether. When I informed him that I was not “Jim Tate’s wife”, he asked me whom I was married to. Luckily, I had just finished reading The Gift of Fear, and I knew that this creepy man was fishing for information that was clearly none of his business. I looked him in the eye, lied and said, “I’m married to my husband,” before walking away. As I walked up to the checkout counter, my intuition told me that this guy was still in the store, and I did not want him behind me, because he was still watching. I got out of line and walked over to a clearance rack and noticed that the man walked out of the store without buying anything. Odd? Yes! Would he have done something to me had I not listened to my gut feelings? Would he have followed me home? I don’t know, but I wasn’t about to give him the opportunity.
Not coincidentally, while I was reading the book’s chapter on dating, I noticed that one of my friends had just started online dating with a man that presented some warning signs. I knew this prior to reading the book, but The Gift of Fear confirmed my own gut feelings about this person, and sure enough, this man had previous domestic violence charges and convictions against him.
When we hear something on the news or in social media every day about someone getting robbed, raped, kidnapped, or murdered, humans have a tendency to think that we are not safe, that something is going to happen to us, even though there is a slim chance. De Becker suggests that we don’t need to live our lives in fear of everything, to enjoy life – because when the time comes to be afraid, our intuition will kick in and alert us. Otherwise, we are wasting time fearing things that will most likely never happen, and our “tuning” will be finer if we turn off anxiety.
I would highly suggest for anyone to read this, but I think The Gift of Fear is especially significant for women – because women tend to live in fear more often than men for obvious reasons. I definitely rate this book 5 stars, because it provides the necessary tools we all need in order to protect ourselves.