The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker

I didn’t want to read this book but now that I have I want everyone to read it. This is an amazing and short look at the powerful gift of fear and how it can keeps us safe. I must say – this book does not shy away from terrifying situations so if you have any trauma that you are dealing with, this book might be upsetting.


True fear is a gift.
Unwarranted fear is a curse.
Learn how to tell the difference.

A date won’t take “no” for an answer. The new nanny gives a mother an uneasy feeling. A stranger in a deserted parking lot offers unsolicited help. The threat of violence surrounds us every day. But we can protect ourselves, by learning to trust—and act on—our gut instincts.

In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker, the man Oprah Winfrey calls the nation’s leading expert on violent behavior, shows you how to spot even subtle signs of danger—before it’s too late. Shattering the myth that most violent acts are unpredictable, de Becker, whose clients include top Hollywood stars and government agencies, offers specific ways to protect yourself and those you love, including how to act when approached by a stranger, when you should fear someone close to you, what to do if you are being stalked, how to uncover the source of anonymous threats or phone calls, the biggest mistake you can make with a threatening person, and more. Learn to spot the danger signals others miss. It might just save your life. from Goodreads


Genuinely, I thought that this book would be about worrying. For that reason, I put off reading it. I worry enough. But, it was my book club’s pick this month so, finally, I picked up the audiobook. At a short 3 hours in length, with the narration that mimics a news report, I was riveted for every minute.

Local news is the violent wallpaper of our lives.

-The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker

The author does touch on worry in the last few sections of the book, but his point is that fear and worry are not the same. If you feel worry, ask yourself, “why?” because it may be based on something you should fear. De Becker makes the point that so many people will not apply logic to their anxiety and make the mistake of smoking cigarettes during a lightning storm thereby doing the most dangerous thing they could during a relatively safe event.

Like Factfulness: Ten Reasons We Are Wrong about the World and Why Things are Better Than You Think this book is about terrible things but, someone, it made me feel better about my world. This book has me asking whether I can trust my own instincts to guide me through scary situations and avoid tragedy. The author’s answer is: yes. Trust yourself.

The author gives reasons he can be trusted. As a child of trauma he used that information to look for ways to predict actual danger. I did not know that Oprah recommended this man or this book until I was writing this review or, truthfully, it would have been a major detractor for me. Oprah doesn’t have the best track record with nonfiction selections.

Not only did I find the author reliable, I also found his methods easy to implement. I have never had a problem saying “no” for other people but I struggle to lay down the naked rejection when I represent myself. Just look at the author’s definition of an explicit rejection when someone asks you out that you are not interested in dating.

“No matter what you may have assumed ’til now, and no matter for what reason you assumed it, I have no romantic interest in you whatsoever. I am certain I never will. I expect that knowing this, you will put your attention elsewhere because that is what I will do.”

The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker

I don’t think I would be able to say this whole statement but I like the author’s acknowledgment that “no” is a whole sentence. Anyone that doesn’t respect it is someone to avoid.

The author also gives simple ways to identify and deal with dangerous people in the dating world, the work place, and at home. I know some people found the idea of “trusting your instincts” to be repetitive and simplistic but I was riveted by the many different ways our human history has prepared us to recognize fear – we just need to listen to ourselves.

Tell me, please! What’s the last NonFiction book that you were surprised you liked?


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