06 September 2011

Book Reviews – Facing Violence and The Gift of Fear

Last week I was a reading fiend.  I finished two books, one I had just found on amazon and another that I’d been meaning to read for quite some time.  The books were Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected by Rory Miller and The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.  Now, these books aren’t the type of magickal books I normally review in this blog but I feel they have a place here.  Both of these books are about keeping yourself safe in the mundane world against the kinds of dangers that we all face every day.  I feel that it is vital to compliment magickal defense with plain, no nonsense, physical defense.  All the magick in the world won’t stop a bullet speeding towards your heart at greater than the speed of sound.  It might help you avoid being shot at in the first place, but you’d have to be a greater wizard than I to deflect a shot at point blank.

The first book I read was Facing Violence by Rory Miller.  This book is about learning how to deal with real world violence.  Most people aren’t programmed to deal effectively with violence.  We’re taught to be nice, polite, don’t stare, don’t be suspicious.  Well guess what, if someone it coming at you with a raised fist or worse the time for politeness is over.  This book teaches the reader how to read a potentially violent situation, how to diffuse it before it gets to violence, and how to act (and not get sued or arrested) if violence should happen to you.  Anyone who’s ever been in a real balls to the walls brawl knows the feeling of frozen white noise rushing through your head when you really begin to panic.  This book gives you the tools to get out of that headspace as quickly as possible so you can do more then get your ass handed to you.  It’s a very well written book, with lots of real world scenarios to make the concepts easy to understand and relevant to anyone.  I will probably be re-reading this sometime in the very near future.

The second book I read was The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.  This is a book that had been on my wish list for a very long time.  This book is all about learning how to trust your own safety instincts.  Everyone observes things that they don’t really think about.  Your subconscious mind uses those billions of observations to form you instincts, your gut reactions.  Most of the time we’re taught to ignore those instincts because acting on them doesn’t fit into a smooth civil demeanor.  This book shows the reader how to look more deeply into their gut feelings and figure out what observations caused them, making it much easier to determine what really needs to be acted on.  It shows us how to listen to our fears to keep ourselves safe.  Beyond that, it teaches something even more important – how to distinguish between worry and actual fear.  Too many people are paralyzed by worries that don’t have any basis in fact (or at least not the facts they believed them to be based in) and this book explains why and what to do about it.  It’s well written, thorough, and actually quite comforting.  I might just make this mandatory reading for my students.

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