Pride and fear

“when pride arrives, logic [leaves].” –Samurai Rising

I would say the same is true of fear, which is one reason I don’t care for the “I was in fear for my life” mantra. When we in the industry teach fear to our students, I am concerned we are setting them up to make bad decisions.

19 responses

  1. fear is health to a certain degree. also the law says you have to be in fear of your life or great bodily harm. we do not get a chance to make the rules we just have to try and survive with them. fear starts our Adrenalin flowing which is good. of course too much fear can cause bad responses such as freezing in your tracks. like everything else we need to find balance. that is what training helps with.

    1. Whether you say you were in fear or not is irrelevant. The law will judge whether your fear was reasonable or not. Your lawyer is the one to make the point.

    2. Which law states we “have to be in fear for your life or great bodily harm”? Laws are worded quite specifically for a reason. Can you provide links to state codes that use that phrasing?

    3. For instance, GA Code 16-3-21 uses the phrase “reasonably believes…force is necessary to defend…against unlawful force”

      There’s nothing in the Code about ‘fear.’

      1. Therein lies the problem. Folks prefer to have an easily remembered and repeated mantra to go by and in many cases don’t really understand the details or criteria upon which the mantra they repeat with such authority is based.

  2. I believe this is a question of semantics. I have never been to a class by good instructors where fear was used as motivation. Knowing how to phrase your words when interacting with law enforcement and the legal system is the point of the “I was in fear for my life”. How you say something is sometimes as important as the point you are trying to make. I certainly do believe that pride/ego leads to poor decisions. The goal should be to just get away safely.

    1. Although it’s not overtly stated as a motivator, anytime we tell someone, in advance, to verbalize something, we are planting a belief. Perhaps a self fulfilling prophecy as well.

  3. What about using fear as an excuse for bad performance?

    I usually hear about firearms engagements phisiology and so on, things out of my limited knowledge, to justify bad performance, but I guess that’s more a reason to train a lot and to train properly.

  4. An old Jewish adage holds that “Fear locks a man in his own house.”

    I fear nothing… there is no sense in it. I do, however, intelligently and very carefully respect anything – and everything – that has the potential to inflict harm (for instance, when dealing with snakes it is best to stay away from the sharp end!)

    1. I like that way of looking at it.

  5. Thanks, as always for making us think Claude – even in the early morning.
    I am a woman shooter and instructor and I think of the word “fear” and how it relates specifically to firearms and how we teach. In the program that I volunteer in, we introduce a variety of firearm platforms to women (500/year) and we always touch on fear but in a negative connotation. I’ll try to address that in a different way my next time on the range and in my own mind and actions.
    Training and knowledge gives me confidence and improves my skill level. Theoretically that will lead to a better decision making process in all aspects of my life.

    1. There’s some good information available about astronauts, competitive swimmers, and controlling fear. An internet search will bring it up.

    2. Training, knowledge, and mental rehearsal are key to controlling fear so you’re on the right track.

  6. I like the title of this post! Perfectly describes why so many people make poor decisions. I love the book ‘The Law of Self Defense’ by Andrew Branca – My instructors have been teaching their students that the laws regarding stand your ground related to justification of self-defense actions based on ‘in fear for your life or the threat of serious bodily injury, to you, your family member or innocent bystander’ are actually saying ‘where any reasonable person would consider themselves to be in fear for their life or the threat of bodily injury’. So, you can say that YOU might be in fear for your life, but that doesn’t mean a jury of your peers would necessarily agree with you. You have to ask yourself in an instant, is MY fear reasonable, or am I overreacting to what I think is occurring, and do I have alternatives to firing my weapon. Obviously fear can be subjective, but we have to remember that our decisions and actions WILL be judged by others who may not agree with our personal level of fear, if they were in the same situation. Especially where the resulting actions result in the death or serious bodily injury to the person that we say we were protecting ourselves or others from.

    This is what we should be teaching as responsible instructors. Not ‘fear for your life’, but determining if your fear is even reasonable in the first place as justification to your decision, and training them on how to analyze their level of fear and not allow it to override their good judgement, and perhaps learn how to identify the alternatives available to them in place of using their firearms. (e.g. running away doesn’t make you a coward!)

    My Mother always liked to remind us about how pride leads to making poor decisions – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” ~ Proverbs 16:18

    1. Well put. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

      Whether one is a religious person or not, there is a lot of wisdom in Proverbs.

  7. Our state laws here used to specifically state that some crimes required the element of placing the victim in fear of, bodily harm, etc.

    Assault, which would be the underlying crime under our state laws for things like Agg Assault, etc., now requires “(a) Assault is knowingly placing another person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm;…”

  8. Reblogged this on Women and Guns and commented:
    Just saying the word fear causes some level of stress in most people. I agree we should refrain from using the word when instructing people on the proper response to law enforcement. In addition, we don’t want students feeling even more anxiety at the thought of having to make life and death decisions in a crisis. I plan to put more emphasis on teaching the importance of maintaining relative calm during decision making, and choosing different words to express the reasons for your actions when dealing with law enforcement. Perhaps something as simple as “I believed he intended to kill me, (or my family). I took the necessary actions to prevent that from happening.” I think it better portrays control in a dangerous situation. Rather than panic.

  9. If you are going to say anything, “I thought I was going to die” is better than expressing fear. It expresses what the law demands, that you have reasonable belief that your life was in danger.

  10. I have regrettably been assaulted on several occasions and I was too busy trying to survive to feel fear at the time.
    I was lucky and I reacted well.
    Later on, when I realized how close I had come to death or serious injury I got the shakes.

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