September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Why fear fear?

By Kelli [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

I recently read a book by Gavin de Becker called the Gift of Fear. One of my massage clients had given me the book, and I will admit I was quite skeptical. Why would I want to read a book by the guy who provides security for famous people?
It actually turned out to be a pretty good read.  The entire premise of the book is not that we should be fearful, but rather that we should trust our intuition and gut instinct of when to be afraid and when to react.
People who go around being afraid not only draw danger to themselves, but they condition  themselves to not be able to properly react when real fear shows up.
The author says he is often asked what people really should fear, but he points out that true fear in involuntary.  On the other hand, worry is voluntary.
He points out that smoking kills more people in our nation in a single day than lightning does over twelve months, yet there are people who will smoke to "calm their nerves" during a storm. People are afraid to fly in a commercial airliner, yet they will smoke, drink soda and talk on their cell phone while "flying" down the road at 65 miles per hour. People flipped over swine flu a while back, often while sitting on the couch watching television after sitting at a desk all day while their mid-sections widened.
"Fear is often more harmful than the outcome we dread," he writes. The stress induced from constant fear is harmful to our health and often shows up as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Most people have a strong fear of strangers and random violence, yet 80 percent of murders are committed between people who know one another. About 5,000 Americans will be killed by a spouse; often the victim has lived for years in denial of the warning signs of what could happen.
An interesting note to farmers: When members of the public were asked of what they are "afraid" or "very afraid," 36 percent reported getting food poisoning from meat and 34 percent listed pesticides on food. These fears rank below things like being in a car crash (54 percent), having cancer (53 percent) and not having enough money for retirement (49 percent). They rank above things like natural disasters (25 percent), being in a plane crash (22 percent) and being a victim of mass violence (18 percent).
  Ah, how we long for the good old days when we were safe... or were we? In the 1950s and 60s  we lived without airbags or mandatory seat belt use, there were much higher smoking rates, there was no 911 system to quickly send help even if we couldn't say our address. We thought we were safer back when there were no organ transplants, coronary bypasses and cancer was often a death sentence. We didn't have cell phones in our pockets to instantly call for help when we needed it, and we didn't necessarily think we needed them either. So why are we, as a society, so afraid? What do we really have to be scared of?
Not much.
The author says our constant listening to the news media is largely to blame. It is a downright lousy idea to hear about all the bad things that happened to other people - especially those who live far away - during the nightly news before we lay down for a supposedly restful sleep.
After completing this book I've cut down on the amount of news I consume. I still know of the important stuff going on in the world. I don't necessarily believe ignorance is bliss, but constant overload of negative information is not a good thing either.
There are some real things out there that could harm our very lives, but instead of considering how we will die, we need to ask ourselves how we are going to live.
The person who sends out news releases for one of the ISU Extension offices here in Northeast Iowa has a great signature tag on all her emails. It reads, "Don't be afraid your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin."
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