March 17, 2009

Fear is the Mind Killer

Posted in Safety tagged , , , , , , at 2:34 am by ledefensetech

Let’s talk a bit about fear, you and I.  Don’t worry, we’ll not go too far around the corner and down a dark alley.  Fear is one of the most misunderstood emotions out there.  Most people will do anything to avoid it.  Much like anything else, however, fear in reality is a tool.  Any like any tool, it can hurt or help you.

Over millions of years our ancestors have used fear to get them out of sticky situations, situations that for us living in the modern world have little to no conception.  Living in the Third World or being in the military or law enforcement might give you some vague conception of the situations that our ancestors faced, but on the whole, we’re pretty lucky in this day and age.

Their legacy to us has been this tool known as fear.  Neurologists are just now unraveling the mysteries of this most human of emotions.  In fact, one of the largest growing mental disorders in the United States, PTSD, is intimately tied to how and why we fear what we fear.  We’ll talk about that a bit later, for now it’s enough to know that it exists.

Fear, too, can kill.  Ben Sherwood talks about “The Statues in the Storm” in his book The Survivor’s Club.  If you’ve ever read Dune by Frank Herbert or have seen the movies based on his books, you’ve seen the title of my blog before.  While fear can be used as a tool in a crisis situation, most times it turns us to statues.  That’s why law enforcement and the military spend so much time trying to train that out of recruits.

This holds especially true if you’re a woman or a teenager.  Or if you’re like me, a short guy.  Many bullies and criminals, for what is a criminal but a bully writ large, think that smaller means weaker.  Being small and weak doesn’t mean that you’re helpless or a victim.

Also preparing yourself mentally attenuates the amount of fear you feel in a real confrontation.  It won’t eliminate your fear, which is good, because fear can be used as a tool in a confrontation.  Fear can actually be used to jump start you if you’ve become a statue in the storm.  Overwhelming fear is what seems to turn people into statues that await their doom.

In an emergency, your mind is the most valuable weapon or tool at your disposal.  The more quickly you can recover from a shock, the more quickly you can start thinking and start surviving.


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