In class the other day, someone said that they were not afraid of things. I must speak to that and say that the complete absence of fear would keep us from using good judgment at times—fear has had its place in evolution and does serve a purpose. Fear can help mobilize us when we perceive a real threat, and can help us make good decisions based on a high probability of threat. For instance, I met a college girl years ago who had the habit in the past of going jogging at night while wearing headphones. On one such outing, she was attacked and raped. Unfortunately, she had not previously considered the high probability of threat. Some fear is needed for survival. What most of us engage in every day, myself included, is worry over what I have heard called: False Evidence Appearing Real. We fear the future, how we look to others, change, loss—the list goes on and on. Though some of these things do come into play in the classroom, we are most concerned with fear as it relates to more imminent physical threat. How can we ensure that we WILL be mobilized towards fight or flight and not freeze? It all comes down to mindset. Simply put, we all make the conscious decision that we will do everything in our power to win a violent confrontation, to survive a disaster, etc. It’s like flipping a switch, and though it does seem very simple, in realistic practice, it is really not for some people. Some will tell you that they are lovers and not fighters, or some might say that they just don’t imagine being aggressive, or getting mad in a confrontation. They have not made the decision to win, and are even stumped by the idea because of their lifelong conditioning. If there is a day of reckoning, it is anyone’s guess what the outcome will be. I am a bit biased—I believe that everyone is better served to have some self-defense skills. But even if they do not train, it would behoove everyone to make that one crucial decision and increase their own probability for survival. Sometimes, in the classroom, we have to turn students on by making them mad. Sometimes we use certain triggers for ourselves, like aggressive facial expressions. Whatever it takes for you to throw the switch on the proper mindset, use it to your advantage. I love this quote:
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
Many years ago, a friend of mine sent me this quote regarding fear. She was really into fantasy and sci-fi, and the quote is from Frank Herbert’s Dune. To me, it is all about experiencing the fear and moving beyond it to win:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it had gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.