Controlling Our Fear

Having the ability to stay calm when trouble shows up takes time, effort and training.

posted on September 30, 2022
Sheriff Jim Wilson

Yesterday a friend and I were riding our horses in a beautiful wooded canyon in this high desert country where I live. Our enjoyment was suddenly interrupted when a rather large diamondback rattlesnake began to cross the trail right in front of us. We held our horses still and yielded right-of-way. In no time, he went on his way and we went on ours.

We had both grown up in rattler country and understood quite a bit about snakes. Although I had a .357 Magnum revolver on my hip, there were no livestock in this big pasture and I saw no need to kill the rattler. However, we stayed alert to the possible danger and then went on our way once it had passed.

You might ask what all of this has to do with personal defense. It is simply a matter of having educated oneself and having plans for dealing with the potential threat. The biggest reason that we make unwise decisions in a threat situation is that they are unexpected and unplanned for. Fear of the unknown takes over and our judgment is impaired.

Now, there is probably no way to stay perfectly calm when our life is threatened, but we can train ourselves to stay calm enough to properly handle the threat. We do that by educating ourselves to the threat and the possible solutions, and we train to be able to apply those solutions.

Threats can vary depending upon where we are. You might most likely face the threats of inner-city crime, car jackings and riots. I, on the other hand, am more likely to have trouble running into drug smugglers, human traffickers ... and rattlesnakes. Regardless, one should learn what the potential threats might be and the best ways to deal with them. 

Col. Jeff Cooper once wrote that a person should never be in a state of, “Oh no!  What do I do about this?” Instead, he should be educated and trained enough to take the position, “They told me that this could happen, and I know just what to do about it.”

When confronted with an actual threat (Condition Red), we might, based upon what is actually happening, fight or simply be prepared to fight until the threat is no longer there. We knew that this could happen, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world, because we expected the possibility and have plans for dealing with it. And that, believe it or not, calms us enough to make good decisions and take proper action.


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