Cover of The Gift of FearA few weeks ago I talked about how I was reading The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. Well, I have just finished it.
We had discussed living in fear. This book actually helps you to not live in fear. To be more accurate, fear is an immediate response to a dangerous situation. It is momentary. The fear that we carry around daily is actually anxiety, worry, or phobias. So the fear that is a gift is more like intuition, gut feelings, and suspicions.
This book explains why you should not be afraid of things that pose no threat to you. Things like plane crashes, serial killers, or even just walking down the street. It chastises media that cashes in on fear. The local news makes you afraid that some random crime will probably happen to you, if you are not careful. A good example of this is the swine flu. I didn't understand this scare. Yes, it is a terrible flu that kills. But it hasn't killed anywhere near the number of people the regular flu kills every year. Don't get me started on terrorist attacks. Yes, they are terrible, but what are the odds that it will happen to you?
Equally important is being afraid of things that actually pose a threat. For instance, there is probably no need to fear a man who gets on the elevator on a different floor than you, is going to a different floor, stands an appropriate distance from you and doesn't give you any undue attention. But. if this man follows you onto the elevator, is getting off on the same floor, gives unsolicited help, ignores the word no, and gives you an uneasy feeling, you should probably get out of that situation. Trust your instincts, even if logic tells you not to.
I think a good example of this is the parade of people my ex used to bring over to our house. Some of them I was okay with. Most just made me uneasy. My ex used to yell at me and tell me I was being a bitch, but I knew these were bad people, even though they hadn't really done anything. He would yell at me, I would cave, then these people would end up stealing our car.
One time, one of the ex's 'friends' stole our car. When we went to the police and told them what had happened, they ran his name and told us we were lucky that he only stole our car. Oh god. What did that mean?? God, I am kinda glad that I don't know.
The book also suggests that no violence is unpredictable or senseless. There are always warning signs. Media leads you to believe that the guy that shot up the shopping mall was the nicest guy on earth and one day just snapped. This makes you afraid of your neighbors. In reality, the guy had a history of mental illness, recently bought a stock of weapons, and told people that something 'big' was going to happen. Kinda changes the story.
There are a whole book full of other topics along the same lines. To spare you, I will not regurgitate them all here. This book is a little difficult to get through at times, but I strongly suggest that everyone read it. I understand now why my therapist suggested it to me.