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The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

5 min read

You have cleverness, dexterity, and creativity—all of which powerfully combine when you are at risk—if you listen to your intuition.

Gavin de Becker, the Gift of Fear

I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages. I finally was able to get finish it with my Digital Silent Book Club and burning through it during my WFH lunches. It’s so nice to not have to bring my lunch every day; it’s already in my house! Then I can focus on simply reading and eating.

Anyway, I digress.

I think I made more highlights in this book on my Kindle than any other book I’ve read so far. It’s mainly because what de Becker says about fear is universal. We were born with it but it shouldn’t define us.

Gavin de Becker, the Gift of Fear

His writing voice is simple but he doesn’t talk down to the reader. When reading nonfiction books, I feel like that happens a lot. He gives the reader a lot of credit for picking up his book and being told things that – honestly – we should already know but maybe don’t trust.

So when we wonder why we are victims so often, the answer is clear: It is because we are so good at it.

Gavin de Becker, the Gift of Fear

I’m going to continue posting quotes from the book because they really get to the crux of his argument. You don’t need to be knee-deep in de Becker’s line of work to identify and embrace what’s going on when you’re in specific situations. If something doesn’t feel right, DON’T IGNORE IT. Your body is sending you signals for a reason.

Experts rarely tell us we already know the answers. Just as we want their checklist, they want our check.

Gavin de Becker, the Gift of Fear

I think this quote stood out to me because being an expert in the field and telling people that you are is a transactional relationship, no give or take in the traditional sense. They’ve bottled up and packaged something that people want, and if you want it, you’re going to have to pay.

It made me step back and realize the path that I was personally taking with Writeropolis Industries. It was refreshing to have that idea morph into something that I’ll use myself. That’s the mark of a great premise; it makes you think of something else in your life.

We must learn and then teach our children that niceness does not equal goodness.

Gavin de Becker, the Gift of Fear

This is a lesson that I feel a lot of parents skip out on. It doesn’t matter if your child is male or female, or whatever their chosen gender is. The world is inherently not good, no matter how much I want to think otherwise. You cannot shield them from that, and you cripple them if you do. Plain and simple. You need to give them the critical thinking skills to challenge the nice and reveal the no-goodness of whatever they’re facing.

You are an animal of nature, fully endowed with hearing, sight, intellect, and dangerous defenses. You are not easy prey, so don’t act like you are.

Gavin de Becker, the Gift of Fear

This one goes hand in hand with the previous quote too, I think. We can argue that the world is not good, therefore we should be instinctively prepared to handle the ugliness. But if we’re not given the tools, where do we learn them?

From within. It’s literally as simple as that. You could even view this from a biological level. You’ve made it this far in life and you’re doing okay. Constant vigilance will serve you if you start practicing it now.

We are at a point in our evolution where life is less about predicting risks and more about controlling them.

Gavin de Becker, the Gift of Fear

We always say our generation (whatever yours happens to be) is the best and everything that came before was crap, and everything that came after is going to be crap. This one stood out to me because we have advanced quickly as a society. Culturally, spiritually, financially, emotionally, and every other -ly you can think of.

We know that if you ride in a plane, there is a chance the plane will get shot down by terrorists or disabled in midair by engine difficulties. Thus, we must find ways to mitigate those circumstances. Maybe take a car instead. Or whatever, I’m oversimplifying everything. The point is, as humans, we have a need to control. But are you attempting to control the right part in a machine of moving parts?

De Becker makes his study of fear relatable by bringing forth a lot of situations that we might find ourselves in – relationships with lovers, in a workplace, or even with ourselves. He does temper it a bit by recalling the serial killers and movie stars that he’s worked with over the years. At the end of the day, we’re all the same.

One of my greatest weaknesses is worrying about finite issues.

Worry is a way to avoid change; when we worry, we don’t do anything about the matter.

Gavin de Becker, the Gift of Fear

This quote in particular stood out to me. How often have I worked myself into a tizzy – whether by force because of a situation that I found myself in or a nasty intrusive thought sprung out of nowhere – and done nothing to handle it?

A LOT.

I’m trying to recognize these thoughts and follow through on them. I’m in my late 30s (ugh, don’t remind me), and I’m not finished learning. This is something that I work on constantly, and if we’re to advance as a society, everyone else should too. We’re in the same storm, just different boats.

This was a worthwhile read. No one who reads it will be unable to take something with them when they’re done. It just can’t be done, that’s how good of a read it is. It’s simple, doesn’t beat you over the head with jargon, and highly relatable in many ways.

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Icon of a hand, hoding a pen, writing love, peace, and adobo grease, Guilliean

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