Has anyone else ever read the book by Gavin De Becker, “The Gift of Fear”?
I actually only got about 7-8 chapters in and then lost it (in the bookshelf!) but have every intention of finishing it one day. What I did read was valuable to me. He talks about how our senses of unease, fear anxiety that we sometimes feel and how as a culture we tried to push it away because we think we are being paranoid, and might be rude to someone.
In “Protecting the Gift”, he talks about never forcing your child to hug or touch a relative or friend, because one day they might think that the wrong adult has the right to touch them, and they should know unequivocally that no one has the right to touch them if they don’t want to. I tend to like what this guy has to say. I actually get really really irritated when I see people forcing their toddlers into another adults arms because they need to ‘be social’ or ‘get over it’ or whatever else people are thinking.
I remember one day at a park, two sisters were there with their childnren, and the toddler boy was playing fine all by himself, and then the aunt arrived and insisted on picking him up and she was annoyingly loud and forceful about it. The boy was crying and crying and the adults were blowing it off like he didn’t have the right to be upset that someone was telling him he “had” to hug her. Ugh. After that, he clung to his mom and wouldn’t play on his own.
Whenever people try to push Ada into doing something (like go in the water at the Splash Pad or play by herself at a playdate) I am about as stubborn in holding on to her and she is to clinging on me. And then she warms up and jumps down, at her comfort level.
Anyway, back to the point.
De Becker stresses the point that when we feel unease it isn’t just a feeling, but we are picking up clues, even if we don’t realize it. He says that victims of voilent crimes that he has interviewed often say something “I didn’t realize it at the time, but when he did this I knew I was in danger.”
He says that the person *did* realize it at the time. Human behavior is very predictable and we predict it all the time, we just don’t always know we are doing it. When people say this, they have often saved themselves from the worse scenario.
I’m the opposite of paranoid. I’m a trusting person. It takes a lot to make me feel uneasy, and this isn’t because I haven’t had reasons in my life to feel uneasy at various points growing up, here and in another country. It’s just my personality. I always thought my husband was way too paranoid, always jumping at noises and expecting something to happen. But, he has gone through different experiences in his life than I have.
This book helped me realize that being paranoid about something bad happening is not the same thing at all as relying on your senses and being cautious when something seems off.
At the park today, the one in my neighborhood that is surrounded by trees and not very highly trafficked, I had noticed a man sitting in his truck in his backyard (across the fence surrounding the park). He wasn’t looking directly at us but seemed to be watching the park and it struck me as odd because it was 96 degrees outside, *not* sitting in a car. I don’t know if that set off my nerves or not, but as we were walking towards the car a man started approaching us, from about 60 feet away, after a car dropped him off. Something about it freaked me out. I cannot tell you what.
I just told Azita and Ada to climb in my door in a hushed tone while we got closer to the car. He would have reached us first, before we reached the car, but then the car that dropped him off returned. Another man got out and they started to talk. He kept looking at us.
I had the girls climb in my door and got in and hit the locks and they kids are old enough to get in their seats. I drove away, but looked back at the men, trying to ascertain what had spooked me. I honestly still don’t know. When I looked closer, they honestly looked more like high school nerds than anything else. They were wearing workout clothes and were very large. Most of the time, when we see people at this park, they are walking the walking path that loops around the play areas. This appeared to be what these two men did.
I think it was the fact he was standing with no car and just the way he was looking at me. Something spooked me, seriously. I felt panicky. They looked and dressed like high schoolers, just really beefy ones.
I don’t know. Anyway it didn’t hurt anything to leave. De Becker says it’s better to listen to your get feelings and be rude to someone who doesn’t deserve it than be a victim, and no one would argue that. I don’t *now* feel unease, or even that there was immediate danger to me or my kids. At first, I thought maybe he was going to ask for money.
All I know is I wanted to get the hell out of there and I did.
There was one other occassion a few years ago, when I was downtown and Ada was just a few months old, where a man kept walking by my car– three times. I felt uneasy but looked him straight in the eyes, each time he passed by, as I took the children out of their car seats. Looking into someone’s eyes is supposed to be a good response because if you are afraid of them, and they might want that, you will look away.
Anyway, long story to say that this guys books should be recommended for all parents and all women. And probably ment oo.