Dealing with Fear: Three Books

In chronological order of publication, the following are three popular books about dealing with fear.

I. The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence (1997) by Gavin de Becker.

An expert on both fear and the psychology of danger and dealing with fear, de Becker teaches awareness of “pre-incident indicators (PINS) of violence.”

Practice respecting one’s intuition, he says, not denial, which he describes as “a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level, and it causes a constant low-grade anxiety. Millions of people suffer that anxiety, and denial keeps them from taking action that could reduce the risks (and the worry).”

Selected Quotes

Every day, people engaged in the clever defiance of their own intuition become, in mid-thought, victims of violence and accidents. So when we wonder why we are victims so often, the answer is clear: It is because we are so good at it.

Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death.

Worry is the fear we manufacture—it is not authentic. If you choose to worry about something, have at it, but do so knowing it’s a choice. Most often, we worry because it provides some secondary reward.

II. Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm (2012) by Thich Nhat Hanh 

A top-ranking Amazon book on this topic, Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh offers the perspective of a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master.

Selected Quotes

The only way to ease our fear and be truly happy is to acknowledge our fear and look deeply at its source. Instead of trying to escape from our fear, we can invite it up to our awareness and look at it clearly and deeply.

We are very afraid of being powerless. But we have the power to look deeply at our fears, and then fear cannot control us.

Living mindfully in the present does not preclude making plans. It only means that you know there’s no use losing yourself in worries and fear concerning the future.

III. The Fear Cure: Cultivating Courage as Medicine for the Body, Mind, and Soul (2015) by Lissa Rankin, MD   

From the publisher’s blurb:

At the intersection of science and spirituality, The Fear Cure identifies the Four Fearful Assumptions that lie at the root of all fears—from the sense that we’re alone in the universe to the belief that we can’t handle losing what we love—and shifts them into Four Courage-Cultivating Truths that pave our way to not only physical well-being, but profound awakening.

Selected Quotes

Courage is not about being fearless; it’s about letting fear transform you so you come into right relationship with uncertainty, make peace with impermanence, and wake up to who you really are.

Studies show that most emotions last no longer than 90 seconds unless we attach stories to them. You have a feeling of being lonely—and this will pass through you quickly unless you make up a story about how you’re lonely because you’re unlovable and worthless and nobody will ever love you and you’re going to be alone forever…

In order to optimize health, the body needs to be in relaxation response the majority of the time so the body’s natural disease-fighting mechanisms can operate properly.

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