Sunday, December 18, 2005

Gift of Fear

I am reading an interesting book called The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. It was recommended to me by Garth, whose posts on Karateforums have really impressed me with their knowledge of intuition, adrenaline, and the workings of fear. As I've written about fear on this blog (I usually call it angst), I decided to check out Garth's recommendation.

DeBecker seems to be some sort of consultant who analyzes and predicts violent behavior. His book was written to teach ordinary people how to become more aware of possible physical threats to them.

The only problem I have with the book so far is that it seems to exaggerate the potential for anyone to be in a truly threatening situation. Statistics show that by and large, it is poorer, younger people who are at most risk for physical danger from strangers and others. Still, the book is impressing me--so far (I'm about 1/3 of the way through)--in several ways. One of which is that it's really well-written! I don't usually like self-help-ish books, but this one's full of stories, and is a great read!

Themes that stand out to me:

Intuition
DeBecker believes that intuition is our best defense against physical threats. Not martial arts or guns or huge locks on doors. Intuition. I think that's cool. And he believes that we ALL have intuition. It's just that some people have learned to ignore it, and others have strengthened it.

Basically, he seems to suggest that intuition is unconsciously noticing things. Being aware of details that are significant. I had to stop and think about this as I read. Because the more he talked about this, the more it sounds like what a writer has to do (especially a non-fiction writer like myself): look for the unstated story, be aware of important details, be curious, but stay a bit detached.

I've noticed that my intuition has gotten stronger recently. In some places, at some times, I feel incredibly aware of what's going on--who needs what, relationships between people, what people want from me. TKD class is one of those places. Sometimes after I get home, I am exhausted from processing all that information. I

believe that being a writer--and also being older, and being a mom--has helped me to strengthen my intuition, and I must realize, somehow, that it is very important to the practice of TKD, so I am very aware of my intuition working when I'm in the dojang.

Politeness can be dangerous
DeBecker also said something that gave me a chill: sometimes women do not heed intuition about danger from men because they don't want to be impolite.

Yikes. I think I may be prey to this mistake. I don't want to hurt other people. I don't want to be impolite. Would this tendency cause me to allow someone I intuitively don't trust to get close to me? I would hope not.

I do have a tendency that balances this one. I am proficient at the withering stare and the cold shoulder. My sister and brother used to call this "the Beena look" (that was the nickname they gave me). I hope that reading DeBecker's book will help me learn when to use it. I also have a bit of the nerd's unawareness of others' critical views of oneself . . . :-)

We don't talk about this first level of analyzing threat in TKD. I've talked to Brian about it--as the only one of us who daily faces physical threats (or at least has to be ready for them), he has some good insights. Of course, things are different for police officers than for the rest of us, but we've talked about responding to threats at different levels--calling for help, confident talking with the person, etc.

I've noticed that Brian has good intuition in the dojang--he's right there when someone gets hurt, and is aware of my flashes of angst or forgetfulness. I would guess that certain jobs like ours allow us to strengthen intuition. Jobs where you have to notice things.

I'll keep reading this book and see where it takes me.If any of you out there has read it, let me know what you think of it. Or if this mini-review inspires you to read it, let me know your thoughts!

1 comment:

The Adventures of Rob said...

Thanks Jane! I've got your blog bookmarked too. Happy holidays, and say hi to your husband for me.

Rob