Discussion: "The Gift of Fear," Chapter 2

Chapter 2: The Technology of Intuition

Now that we know what a powerful guiding system Intuition is, Gavin de Becker teaches us how to use it.
de Becker starts this chapter off with the true-life event of Robert Thompson. He walked into a convenience store, unconsciously read fear on the employee’s face behind the counter, and walked right back out. This action saved his life, because the next person who walked in, a police officer, was shot a killed in this convenience store’s robbery. de Becker processed this incident with Thompson to find out just what exactly made him leave the store that day. One – there was only one car in the parking lot and it had a person sitting in it and the car was still running. Two – the clerk was focused on a customer who was wearing a big heavy jacket even thought it was summer. Three – when the clerk saw Thompson, he saw a flash of fear cross his face. Without even realizing it, Thompson’s intuition took over and saved his life. de Becker says in this chapter, “Intuition is the journey from A to Z without stopping at any other letter along the way. It is knowing without knowing why.” I love that quote.
Diane Ackerman, the author of A Natural History of the Senses, compares Intuition to a good stage hand who get’s on with it’s work while we’re busy acting out our scenes. Brilliant. Intuition evaluates context and is very basic.
de Becker says that after years of praising Intuition as the “cornerstone of safety,” he discovered that the root of the work intuition means “to guard, to protect.” He states that a lot of times people trust the instincts of the animals in their life, than their own instincts, when in reality human’s intuitive abilities are far superior. Animals can only react to fear in humans and cannot add context to their experiences. I know that my parent’s dog, Minni, hated my grandma. We used to joke that she could sense evil (sorry grandma, may you rest in peace). Now I realize that Minni was probably just reacting to how we all felt about grandma. Uneasy, ready for a verbal attack, uncomfortable, and she manifested this in barking whereas we manifested it in passive aggressiveness. de Becker says the biggest difference between animals and humans is humans have judgement that obstructs our perceptions and intuition. de Becker states:
With judgement comes the ability to disregard your intuition unless you can explain it logically, the eagerness to judge and convict our feelings rather than honor them. [Animals] are not distracted by the way things could be, use to be, or should be. [Animals] perceive only what is. Our reliance on the intuition of dogs is often a way to find permission to have an opinion we might otherwise be forced to call (God forbid) unsubstantiated. Can you imagine an animal reacting to the gift of fear the way some people do, with annoyance and disdain instead of attention? No animal, suddenly overcome with fear, would spend any of its mental energy thinking, “it’s probably nothing.”
I remember de Becker talking about this on “Oprah.” He talked about an example of a woman standing outside of an elevator when the doors open and she sees a man in there she is in instant fear of. No animal would get inside a steel, sound-proof compartment with another animal it fears. And yet, women talk themselves out of their gut feelings, and instead of appearing rude by not getting on the elevator alone with a man they fear, they get inside and risk their own safety.
de Becker talks about how victims often state that they unconsciously knew they were in danger and yet refused the gift of fear. After the fact they can recall the hundreds of signals given alerting them to the danger and yet they ignored it. One person states about the denial we use to discount our intuition says, “it’s like waking up in your house with a room full of smoke, opening the window to let the smoke out, and then going back to bed.” Once we can overcome the denial of our intuition, we can use it to our advantage to predict the routine behavior of other adults.
In the next chapter, de Becker delves further in prediction.
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3 thoughts on “Discussion: "The Gift of Fear," Chapter 2

  1. Since you started a discussion on this book I would like to contribute where I can. I have been pretty good at keeping my job a secret on my blog, but since you already know I will talk about it as it relates to intuition.One thing that I tell every new guy that I have had with me so far is that you first trust your instincts. If you don't you'll die. At first they think I am crazy, then they see how it works and I can prove it to them. As we drive around I will tell them…okay find someone breaking the law. Since they are new and don't use their intuition they will only folllow logic. After a while with no results I will tell them okay…let me drive. I will then go through the same neighborhoods and end up catching people in stolen cars or just carrying a gun. They are at first amazed. But I simply tell them…trust your gut. If you look at something or someone and it just doesn't feel right…it's not. After they get out on their own I see them use their intuition and they realize that they to can know without knowing.I have stories every single week that relate to this, but I will note some of my more dramatic ones. (Not all at once of course)I remember one night some of my co workers tracked down a murder suspect. After they arrested him some of our gang units were watching the house where more people involved in the murder lived. While they were watching the house they came under fire from some gang members. The house was surrounded and I was assigned to the outter perimiter. My job was simple…keep the media and innocent people out…nothing major and a task we do often. Well this night I had a really strong urge to get my shotgun out of the car and sling it in front of me. At first I thought…don't do that. You'll looked paranoid. Then I remembered one of my trainers telling me to follow my gut. I got out of my car and turned on the alley (side lights) and stood so I was behind them. I got my shotgun out, chambered a round and held it so it was easy access. While I did this I had several cars full of gang bangers drive by me. They would slow down and I would make them very aware that I had a shotgun. After a while I was cleared off the call and a house full gang bangers was arrested. I was fine and nothing happened. I then started to feel like a coward about holding tight to my shotgun. However, as the intel started to come in about the night I later found out that some of the gang leaders in the home that was surrounded by police had put an order out to the other gang members not in the house to shot and kill a cop on the permiter. The guys driving around had that order and they drove past me…several times. Had I not had a shotgun I believe they would have pulled up and unloaded on me. To this day that was the only time I have held outer parimeter with a shot gun at the ready. Did it save my life?..I think it did.Next time I will tell you about the time I had a rifle pointed at my face by a gang banger hidden in a dog house and I didn't know it, but something told me to move my head and not look around the corner again. The guy was caught and no one was hurt.Like I said…I use my intuition every single day I work and then some. It's true…your intuition knows before you know.

  2. Thank you everyone for sharing. I also believe intuition is a powerful gift that has also saved my life many times. It's amazing how much information our bodies and brains can absorb and process without our conscious awareness.

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