Dealing with fear

or rather unwarranted fear. It causes a lot of problems, often with tragic endings.
I’m not talking about caution, or situational awareness or condition yellow, but ape crazy fear.
The kind that can paralyze you from acting (bad) or cause you to mistakenly threaten an innocent (also bad!)
Reading reasons people have for carrying, fear seems high on the list. That’s not a bad thing in it’s self if you fear for your life, but how do keep fear from taking over your life?
With violent crime on the rise, I think that’s going to be a problem needing resolution

AFAIK this issue hasn’t been discussed, but should to be.
Any takers?


From what I understand fear is not unwarranted, but misplaced!
This comes straight from my doctor. In June of 2008, this is a long story, I’ll do my best.
My grandkids wanted me to quit smoking, I replied that I would if they came out with a pill! Well, they did. It was prescribed by my doctor and he told me it would take three months. I started taking the pills without any regards to the side effects.

I’ll get back to that. In June I decided, tossed out all but one cigarette, took the pills as directed. One day on the way home from work I had a full blown “ape crazy panic attack of fear, that stopped me and my vehicle dead in the middle of rush hour traffic, I crawled from the street to a restaurant where I was given water and picked up by an ambulance. I was fine, no heart attack. I was in complete paranoia and in fear of the way the world was going for almost a week. “ Apocalypto” type of fear. Talked about it with the family, we are very close.

Went to my family physician and explained about my “fear” and “paranoia”. He asked a few questions, do you think you should be in fear, NO, I answered, is anyone chasing you, NO, what are you in fear of, don’t know! Are you still taking the pills for the smoking, yes. Doctor says stop taking them. I quit smoking on that July 4th…

Back to the fear. It was explained to me that people who are afraid of flying are only afraid when they get to the airport, people are only afraid of snakes or spiders, etc when it’s at their feet, not while they are having pizza and a movie.

So I was not experiencing fear or true paranoia, but a side effect of the pills.
However ever since I quit smoking I decided to spend my money on self protection. Figured the cost of ammunition was way cheaper than cigarettes ( at the time ).
I did not purchase a firearm out of fear, I purchased it because the odds were stacked against me as I got older! The world was not as calm as it was when I was serving. I’ve had my scares there as well.

The world has gone to hell, but I don’t bring fear into the tribe.
I’m extremely cautious, I don’t take chances and I don’t go to places that don’t want my money!

As a Brooklyn boy I know and understand fear. I’ve eaten the wrong end of pistols and shotguns, I’ve seen my share of bodies at the age of 13. I’ve seen what happens to a human skull when it meets a windshield by the hands of another human being.

Spent time in the military learned discipline and how to manage, compartmentalization of so called fear, to the untrained fear will become your worst enemy!
Those that purchase a firearm out of fear, may want to discuss the fear beforehand!

Crime has been with us since we were born. Some years worse than others. Agreed these past few and the many to come are cringe worthy, but not fear worthy! IMHO.
I do recommend vigilance! Keep calm and have a plan!


First of all, your fears are “almost” never as bad as you can conjure up in your mind. Most people are their own worst enemy. I have experienced this myself.
I think education and training will help quell many of your fears. If you fear something study it, learn all you can about it, study videos, (Active Self Protection) read about stories that tell of people who have faced this fear and survived or not. Just as much can be learned by failure as by triumph.

A story about me. When I was a teenager, I would dream about bears, always in a fearful way.
As I went into my 20s I had many encounters with bears, some close up and personal, the more I learned, the more encounters I had the less I feared them, I respected them even more
for their strength and ability to hurt me. My dreams of fearful encounters stopped.

Two people I very much admire. Dr. Jordan Peterson and Jocko Willink, who are more gifted than I.


I will bite. Fear can be used as a motivational tool. Fear becomes problematic when it paralyzes you or causes you to freeze. I’ve used fear as a way to inform my decision making.

As an example.

  1. I fear someone hurting my family. So I took steps to minimize my exposure. Is that because I have an irrational fear. No, I did a cost benefit analysis and structured my reaction accordingly. I hardened my home with what I considered to be rational cautions.

  2. I fear for my daughter’s safety. Some may consider my precautions to be over the top because I gave my daughter, 2 K-9 trained dogs. But some don’t have as much access to K-9 trained dogs as I do. I rescue puppies and then I train them to different standards, K-9, working dogs of various types, therapy animals etc. Now is giving my daughter 2 K-9 trained unreasonable? Seeing as I had the 2 dogs available and it doesn’t cost more than vet care and food. Probably not, but if I had to go and spend $40,000 for the pair of K-9. You could reasonably assume that I let my fear dominate the decision. I’ve also trained my daughter and her roommates on firearms safety and I pay for her and whatever room mate she has for USCCA membership. I got my daughter a .380 M&P Shield. Is it unreasonable? I don’t consider it to be since it doesn’t cost me anything other than her membership and a handgun. I also pay for her ammo and we regularly go shoot at the range. So my daughter has a CC permit, and 2 K-9 trained dogs. Again, I posit, since there were minimal costs and it helped me feel safer for her that my reaction was reasonable. Now if I had to go pay thousands of $ for her training, that might be considered my fear ruling me.

  3. I fear for my safety. I have Addisons, an adrenal disease where sudden stressors could kill me. I CC, I have made my home safer, where I will at least know someone has entered my home. Is it 100% foolproof. Of course not, but it would take actual malice aforethought to get into my home.

I guess the thing I am trying to say. Fear can be a great motivational tool as long as you don’t let it control you.


No one I know of owns firearms due to fear. Understanding that there is a potential for crime (awareness), more so in some areas than others, and being prepared is not fear.

This reminds me of the old joke about the officer discovering during a traffic stop that the senior woman was armed with a handgun, then further discovering she had several more about her person. He then wondered what she was afraid of. Her reply, nothing. I believe this sums-up most of our feelings on the idea of carrying firearms. We do not carry due to fear, but due to awareness and wanting to be prepared.


I’m not really fearful of much.I do however value very highly the ability to return fire if needed.


Learning how to discern fear is essential. I liked the book by Gavin De Becker The Gift of Fear.


Masaad Ayoob says “fear is to the mind what pain is to the body.” He differentiates between fear and panic.

He states that you don’t do away with fear, you control fear.

I would define fear as an emotional and/or rational apprehension of real or imagined danger. That danger can be in the immediate, near term, or long-term. I think this covers warranted or unwarranted fears.

Masaad Ayoob says that fear comes from helplessness and not understanding. We fear what we do not understand and what we cannot control. Fear is controlled by education and training. You educate to increase your understanding and you train to reduce or eliminate helplessness.

So to the OP question, I would offer Mas’s suggestion: education and training reduces or eliminates unwarranted fear. This is what @BRUCE26 said as well. It also seems to be what @Zavier_D is doing.

I do agree with some of the sentiment expressed above, namely, that I do not carry a gun out of fear. But within my definition of fear above, I would have to admit that fear really is a reason. I have mitigated or even eliminated the emotional aspect of that fear. However, the rational anticipation of real danger is still legitimate and, I believe, still a part of the definition of fear.


Nobody has mentioned paranoia yet.
That is fear that can take over your life!
I’m not sure that training can overcome paranoia—fear yes, paranoia maybe not so much? :thinking:


I think it is the same category as fear but a very irrational one and harder to over come. More on the lines of mental illness. Nothing to be ashamed of.


I am hoping no one here has to deal with that type of illness either themselves or someone close to them.
If someone has uncontrolled paranoia it may take a short-term course of Psych drugs and Clinical Psychologist who really cares to get to the root of the problem and start to build that person back up, it can be done. Long term use of Psych drugs is not recommended.
I have seen firsthand and causes more problems than it helps.

As a Corrections Officer I had the misfortune to have delt with several people who were in deep psychological trouble and ended up incarcerated either because of law breaking or the courts and or family not wanting to deal with them. Too many times people that need help are
put in jail with staff ill trained to help them. :unamused: (One of my pet peeves)
We are seeing even more of this with people who are ill equipped to deal with life, from bad parenting to brain washing in schools. Fox news had a mother on who had to send her daughter to be deprogramed after she got her back from a university.
So, in ending, a person suffering from uncontrolled paranoia should seek professional help.
I hope this helps. :slightly_smiling_face:

Dr. Peterson has many videos on that subject.

Jordan B Peterson - YouTube


A little healthy fear, so we’re careful; sounds OK to me. Valuing prevention.


We never know how we are going to react to fear 100% until we are actually confronted by it. We can train, we can visualize scenarios, but until a situation happens we never know for sure 100% what our reaction is going to be.

This is a true story that happened to me about 5 years ago before I retired. I used to go to work very early in the morning. Now this is historically a stable neighborhood and I have never felt uneasy here. One morning about 4:30 a.m. I want to place some papers in my truck that I needed for work so I wouldn’t forget them. Never thought anything about it and had not placed my firearm in my holster yet and was just getting a coffee ready.

I went to my carport unarmed not giving it a second thought. I had backed in and so went to the far side of my truck to place the papers through the driver’s side door. As I went around the truck a young man about 17 years of age stuck a 9 mm in my face from about 6 ft away. The truck was between me and the door of the house so I was blocked from any possible quick retreat.

At this moment the strangest thing happened. Everything seemed to become crystal clear and every thought every second and every action of this young man was magnified in my mind’s eye. I could see he was scared as I was and was shaking holding the pistol. I came to quickly realize this young guy did not want to shoot me but he was scared to death and I was afraid he was going to freak out and pull the trigger.

I don’t know if it was instinct or desperation but that’s when I bulled up! I told him he was about to do something he would regret for the rest of his life and if he didn’t lay the gun on the ground I was going to shove it up his ass! Thank God he complied and actually said yes sir I’m sorry. I picked the gun up by the muzzle put my hand on the young man’s shoulder and told him to go sit around the corner on my front porch and wait for the police. He asked me if he could call his mother on his cell phone and I told him in a few moments when I come back out you can call your mom.

I went inside the kitchen laid the firearm I picked up by the muzzle on the table and called the police. I then went out on the front porch and sit down next to the young man and told him to call his mom which he did. Two patrol vehicles quickly showed up. Almost at the same time his mother showed up. The officers secured the location and as the mother was coming up the drive I told one officer get her off my property I didn’t want to hear how good her 17-year-old boy was he had just showed a gun in my face.

I then invited the one officer I was talking to into my kitchen to retrieve the firearm. I told him when he was writing his report out that I wanted to be sure he wrote that I had picked the firearm up by the muzzle and my fingerprints would be on it in case something else had already happened.

He secured the firearm took the young man into custody and left. I never heard another word about it from the police and so I have no idea whatever became of the young man.

I know this is a long story but I wanted to be thorough. Was I brave? Stupid? I don’t think I was either one I was angry as hell because I knew and I had told the officer if I was carrying my firearm I probably would have killed the young man and I would have had to have lived with that. The officer told me it would have been seen as self-defense and justifiable and I said I know and that’s why I’m so pissed off because I would have not known the mindset of this young young man and would have defended myself. To this day I know if confronted with the same situation and if I was armed I would act first. And to this day knowing that still pisses me off!


You could have also physically assaulted him unarmed, too, but chose not to. You observed his intent and his behaviors correctly and acted appropriately. I do not see why you would have read him differently while armed, then not.

Living with yourself after being a victim can be difficult, regardless of what your actions were. I have been fortunate in not having been a crime victim, though a couple incidences if I had not reacted in the manner I did, may have turned out differently. You used very good judgment.


There are different kinds and levels of fear. I find that having a reason to be in a fearful situation alleviates quite a bit of fear in many situations.
Here’s one story—
I have a fear of rattle snakes. One summer I was leading a small search party mostly made up of senior citizens who had volunteered to help. We were searching for a 4 year old little girl who had been missing for three days in very hot weather. We were in a very rattle snaky part of the hills doing a grid search in tall grass when we came across an old barb wire fence which my senior citizens couldn’t climb over, so at a mid-point in the fence line I dropped across the wires so my party could cross (wrecked my jacket in the process) and reassemble into our “grid” on the other side of the fence.
At that point it wasn’t looking good so time was of the essence and we had a job to do and having that goal is what helped me overcome my fear of getting up close and personal with “Jake.”
About three hours later one of the search party heard her respond to our calling and we were able to get her to safety…


Thank you but one comment. I was 61 years old at the time not in the best health. Trying to physically disarm him would not have been in my opinion an alternative. Just the fact that this teenager was behaving and extremely nervous manner gave me pause but I got lucky with his intent from my point of view. I’m sure many criminals appear excitable during a crime. I chose to believe shooting me was not his intent but I certainly did not know that as a certainty.


Fair enough, but my point was that you properly read the situation. I do not believe that goes away just because you have a firearm. Further, you need to mentally get past the emotions you have regarding that incident. You survived, he survived, both unharmed. If you ever find yourself in another bad situation, you will do what you believe is necessary at that moment - that is nothing to get upset about, it is just reality.

I was (am?) a pacificist and did not believe (still do not) in harming anyone or anything. It took a lot of introspection and discussions with my b-i-l, who, at the time, was a LEO, to get past my belief and understand that it is better that I harm a perp and survive than the other way around. The epiphony for me was when he stated that it was my responsibility as a husband and father to protect my family and myself, not the police and that the police will not be there; that my wife and child are far better-off if I survive and the perp doesn’t than the other way around. So I resolved that I would do whatever it takes to prevent harm to my family and me.

He stated to me that if the perp is harmed, it is due to his actions, not mine; that I am only defending self/family. At that point the perp has decided the value of his/her life, not me, and that my life is far more valuable than someone wanting to do harm to me/family. It took a lot to get past the idea of harming someone, but in the end, I understood he is right. If the perp is harmed or killed, it was the perp that put him/herself into that situation, not me.


I agree with you wholeheartedly that it is best if possible deescalate the situation. I am sure it would not always be possible to do so though… It was because he had placed me in a position where I could see myself having to live with something that I have no desire to live with if at all possible that makes me angry. In the end if I had to I would choose myself and my loved ones. I still would not like what I would have to live with though. I pray if ever placed in a similar situation that I am able to read it properly and act accordingly.


That was my point about getting past that emotion, it will drain you. It is not your fault that the perp decided to put himself into a position where harm to him is possible. That is not your choice, nor your doing - it’s all on the perp. If we could decide not to be victims, it would never happen - the perps decide. All we can do is be as prepared as possible.


What a predicament in this scenario on this vid, between the 6 minute and the 10 minute marker. It happened so fast.

Do we reach for our spray, rifle, or side arm? Try to avoid it if we can?

Those fellas were brave.

Can freezing up like a possum happen to any one? We are all mere mortals.