Self Defence: Understanding the Gift of Fear

Fear can be your best friend in a dangerous situation. Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear, says, “You have the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations.”  7

In the right context, fear is healthy. It warns you of danger and prompts you towards self preservation. Unfortunately, many individuals shut down fear as irrational or ignore it until too late, concentrating instead on their worry over what others will think of them.

This behaviour can kill you. Ignoring fear because you are worried about ‘being rude’ can allow someone to talk you into a bad situation, manoeuvre you into a bad location, invade your personal space and get close enough to incapacitate you before you have a chance to react. Fear is supposed to make you react before you get to that point.

Listing to your instincts can keep you out of trouble. If you feel unsure about following a stranger away from the group, don’t do it. If you hear a cry for help from a dark alley and hesitate, perhaps it is for a reason. If you get a prickling in the back of your neck while walking down a street alone at night, take a hard look at your surroundings and prepare yourself.\

This is not intended to cause you to constantly live in a state of fear or be looking over your shoulder each time you venture out in public. The goal is simply to encourage you to pay attention to those antennae that goes up when danger looms.

Fear has another use. It activates the amygdala and can spike your adrenalin, increasing response time and physical strength. 8 This can literally save your life, if you can channel that fear into positive action - by either running away or defending yourself. Don’t let fear paralyse you, and don’t ignore it - fear is your friend.