Book Quotes Galore: Gift of Fear By Gavin de Becker

Book Quotes Galore: Gift of Fear By Gavin de Becker


If you’ve seen my review on the book called Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, then you probably already know how much your girl adores that book. Apparently, just writing a lengthy review about it doesn’t seem to fully convey how much I enjoyed that book, I have to also write up my favorite quotes from Gift of Fear by De Becker. 

So here we are, ladies and gents. 

Seriously though, for those of you who have not yet read the book yet, definitely do give it a try. I cannot recommend it enough. If your girl starts going on one of my tangents again about how much I recommend this book, I will officially become the cuckoo neighborhood cat lady. So to spare you the pain of having to go through that, I shall stop here. (but in all seriousness, do give that book a try if you haven’t already hehe) 

And into the quotes, we go! 





Every human behavior can be explained by what precedes it, but that does not excuse it.


“Intuition is always right in at least two important ways;

It is always in response to something.
It always has your best interest at heart.”



gavin de Becker quotes



There’s a lesson in real-life stalking cases that young women can benefit from learning: persistence only proves persistence—it does not prove love. The fact that a romantic pursuer is relentless doesn’t mean you are special—it means he is troubled.





Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect

while most women fear rape and death.





Niceness is a decision, a strategy of social interaction; it is not a character trait.


People seeking to control others almost always present the image of a nice person in the beginning. Like rapport-building, charm, and the deceptive smile, unsolicited niceness often has a discoverable motive.


A woman could offer no greater cooperation to her soon-to-be attacker than to spend her time telling herself, “But he seems like such a nice man.” Yet this is exactly what many people do. A woman is waiting for an elevator, and when the doors open she sees a man inside who causes her apprehension. Since she is not usually afraid, it may be the late hour, his size, the way he looks at her, the rate of attacks in the neighborhood, an article she read a year ago—it doesn’t matter why. The point is, she gets a feeling of fear. How does she respond to nature’s strongest survival signal? She suppresses it, telling herself: “I’m not going to live like that, I’m not going to insult this guy by letting the door close in his face.” When the fear doesn’t go away, she tells herself not to be so silly, and she gets into the elevator. Now, which is sillier: waiting a moment for the next elevator, or getting into a soundproofed steel chamber with a stranger she is afraid of? The inner voice is wise, and part of my purpose in writing this book is to give people permission to listen to it.



gift of fear quotes



It is similar to one brother asking another, “Why did you grow up to be a drunk?” The answer is “Because Dad was a drunk.” The second brother then asks, “Why didn’t you grow up to be a drunk?” The answer is “Because Dad was a drunk.” Some more complete answers are found in Robert Ressler’s classic book Whoever Fights Monsters. He speaks of the tremendous importance of the early puberty period for boys. Before then, the anger of these boys might have been submerged and without focus, perhaps turned inward in the form of depression, perhaps (as in most cases) just denied, to emerge later. But during puberty, this anger collides with another powerful force, one of the most powerful in nature: sexuality. Even at this point, say Ressler and others, these potential hosts of monsters can be turned around through the (often unintentional) intervention of people who show kindness, support, or even just interest. I can say from experience that it doesn’t take much.


If you tell someone ten times that you don’t want to talk to him, you are talking to them—nine more times than you wanted to.





“I encourage people to remember that “no” is a complete sentence.”





“No” is a word that must never be negotiated, because the person who chooses not to hear it is trying to control you.


Denial is a save now, pay later scheme.



gift of fear quotes



Only human beings can look directly at something, have all the information they need to make an accurate prediction, perhaps even momentarily make the accurate prediction, and then say that it isn’t so.


Men who cannot let go choose women who cannot say no. 





I’ve successfully lobbied and testified for stalking laws in several states,


but I would trade them all for a high school class that would teach young men how to hear “no,”


and teach young women that it’s all right to explicitly reject.





In the brilliant book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman describes seven key abilities most beneficial for human beings: the ability to motivate ourselves, to persist against frustration, to delay gratification, to regulate moods, to hope, to empathize, and to control impulse. Many of those who commit violence never learned these skills. If you know a young person who lacks them all, that’s an important pre-incident indicator, and he needs help.


Those men who are the most violent are not at all carried away by fury. In fact, their heart rates actually drop and they become physiologically calmer as they become more violent.



gift of fear quotes



We think conscious thought is somehow better, when in fact, intuition is soaring flight compared to the plodding of logic. Nature’s greatest accomplishment, the human brain, is never more efficient or invested than when its host is at risk. Then, intuition is catapulted to another level entirely, a height at which it can accurately be called graceful, even miraculous. Intuition is the journey from A to Z without stopping at any other letter along the way. It is knowing without knowing why.


When dreaded outcomes are actually imminent we don’t worry about them, we take action. Seeing lava from the local volcano makes its way down the street toward our house does not cause worry it causes running. Also, we don’t usually choose imminent events as subjects for our worrying, and thus emerges an ironic truth: Often the very fact that you are worrying about something means that it isn’t likely to happen.


The best antidote to worry is action. If there is an action that will lessen the likelihood of a dreaded outcome occurring, and if that action doesn’t cost too much in terms of effort or freedom, then take it. The worry about whether we remembered to close the baby gate at the top of the stairs can be stopped in an instant by checking. Then it isn’t a worry anymore; it’s just a brief impulse. Almost all of the worry parents feel about keeping their children safe evolves from the conflict between intuition and inaction.

Your choices when worrying are clear: take action, have faith, pray, seek comfort, or keep worrying.





Believing that others will react as we would


is the single most dangerous myth of intervention.





Surveys have shown that ranking very close to the fear of death is the fear of public speaking. Why would someone feel profound fear, deep in his or her stomach, about public speaking, which is so far from death? Because it isn’t so far from death when we link it. Those who fear public speaking actually fear the loss of identity that attaches to performing badly, and that is firmly rooted in our survival needs.


A person (or an animal) who feels there are no alternatives will fight even when violence isn’t justified, even when the consequences are perceived as unfavorable, and even when the ability to prevail is low.



gift of fear quotes



The institutions of psychiatry, law enforcement, and government have proved that no matter what your resources, you cannot reliably control the conduct of crazy people. It is not fair, but it is so.


Though we live in space-age times, we still have stone-age minds. We are competitive and territorial and violent, just like our simian ancestors. There are people who insist this isn’t so, who insist that they could never kill anyone, but they invariably add a telling caveat: “Unless, of course, a person tried to harm someone I love.” So the resource of violence is in everyone; all that changes is our view of the justification.



gift of fear gavin quotes



While we are quick to judge the human rights record of every other country on earth, it is we civilized Americans whose murder rate is ten times that of other Western nations, we civilized Americans who kill women and children with the most alarming frequency. In (sad) fact, if a full jumbo jet crashed into a mountain killing everyone on board, and if that happened every month, month in and month out, the number of people killed still wouldn’t equal the number of women murdered by their husbands and boyfriends each year.





I don’t believe in such a thing as the criminal mind.


Everyone’s mind is criminal;


we’re all capable of criminal fantasies and thoughts.





Predatory animals usually devour prey in order to convert flesh into fuel. Most human predators, however, seek power, not food. To destroy or damage something is to take its power. This applies equally to a political movement, a government, a campaign, a career, a marriage, a performance, a fortune, or a religion. To push a pie into the face of the world’s richest man is to take his power, if only for a moment.


We want recognition, not accomplishment.





Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.





“I have learned that the kindness of a teacher, a coach, a policeman, a neighbor, the parent of a friend, is never wasted. These moments are likely to pass with neither the child nor the adult fully knowing the significance of the contribution. No ceremony attaches to the moment that a child sees his own worth reflected in the eyes of an encouraging adult. Though nothing apparent marks the occasion, inside that child a new view of self might take hold. He is not just a person deserving of neglect or violence, not just a person who is a burden to the sad adults in his life, not just a child who fails to solve his family’s problems, who fails to rescue them from pain or madness or addiction or poverty or unhappiness. No, this child might be someone else, someone whose appearance before this one adult revealed specialness or lovability, or value.”


Rock climbers and long-distance ocean swimmers will tell you it isn’t the mountain or the water that kills––it is panic.



gift of fear gavin quotes



Remember, the nicest guy, the guy with no self-serving agenda whatsoever, the one who wants nothing from you, won’t approach you at all. You are not comparing the man who approaches you to all men, the vast majority of whom have no sinister intent. Instead, you are comparing him to other men who make unsolicited approaches to women alone, or to other men who don’t listen when you say no.



I am capable of what every other human is capable of.

This is one of the great lessons of war and life.





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