The Gift of Fear

We have the power within ourselves to protect ourselves. Just as animals have keen senses to trigger a fight or flight response, we humans have the same ability to use this innate self protective mechanism. The following information is from Gavin deBecker (presenting The Gift of Fear book) from the Oprah Show.


Intuition is a strong sense knowing without knowing why or without having proof or evidence. In fact, the root of the word intuition “intere” means to guard and to protect. We must train ourselves to listen to and respond to our instincts and intuition.

Calm or Panic?

What is the difference between people who panic in dangerous situations and someone who can remain collected?

  • The person who remains collected stays calm and alert because they are either observing or reacting to the current situation and ready for the opportunity to either fight or flight

  • What is going on in the brain of the person who is panicking? Their minds are spinning imagining all the things that could happen to them if they don’t escape or get rescued.

When you are full of worry and anxiety you are less able to read the signals of true fear. Worry does not serve as a precaution because it actually hinders your ability to take appropriate action. When you worry yourself into a state of artificial fear about your children, you distract yourself from what is actually happening in favour of what you imagine is happening.

Let’s look at the difference between Worry and True Fear:


Thoughts that pop up in the absence of real danger

Occurs in the presence of danger

Thoughts or memories about the past or the “what if’s” that could happen in the future

The signal you experience when something is not right in your current environment

is a fear we manufacture in our heads.

Worrying is a choice (we can choose to stop worrying).

True fear is an involuntary instinctive response

How can we develop the skills to protect ourselves?

  1. Let go of unwarranted (often media driven) fear. Every news story that scares us are an example of a “one in a million” worse case scenario. We need to be more aware of where the real dangers lie.

  1. Trust your instincts. Pay attention to any niggling feeling that says, "This doesn’t feel right." Teach your child to do the same thing, even with friends, relatives and other authority figures!

  1. When you experience true fear you must act on it. Back away quickly and firmly. Don’t be afraid to seem rude. If the offending person means well, he’ll understand.

  1. Women and children often are taught to be polite before all else. Children are taught to listen to authority figures, to do what they're told, to not disobey. But this attitude can be fatal. Dangerous people will use these lessons against women and children.

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