The different faces of fear

I can say fear was constant. Sometimes moved you and made decisions for you, sometimes was just as a reminder in back of your head. Fear from unknown, fear from pain, fear from minor things that can become disaster, things like cold or injury.

Just like with most of the things there is no rules, so fear is different for different kind of people, and not everybody react same. Someone can say that fear can kill you, yes I agree, but also fear can save your life. Fear can „do“ things instead of you.

I ve seen people doing some weird and crazy things just because they were terrified for their life or lives of their families. I seen man who beat two armed men with rifle, he was driven mad with fear, fear for his family what those two men gonna do to them. He did not even try to shoot , he just use his rifle as some kind of stick or baton, and beat those two guys almost to death.

He was not something like Chuck Norris or anything similar, he was terrified father. Fear just turned him into a monster.

When you find yourself in situation of life and death fear can just overwhelm you.

I was in situation where i needed to stay low and quiet while group of men go pass me, it was matter of life and death and I knew it. I remember my heart was bumping so loud that I was thinking „those guys gonna hear me, they gonna hear my heart“, I was breathing normally I guess but I remember that I thought I breath so loud and I was turning around and checking because I thought someone else is breathing behind me.

Later it got much easier. In first few situations fear controls you, after some times you slowly learn that you need to control fear. If you have enough time for learning that.

But again different people react different. But fear is always there. Over the time you learn sometimes to control it, and use it in your favor, as a extra power actually, as some kind of adrenaline pump starter. So you can do some things faster and better. This is the point you want to get to.

I am talking about ordinary man, not prepared, not trained.

What I learned for sure and what is pretty much obvious is fact that people did not get killed because they feared a lot, they get killed mostly because they reacted wrong, fear paralyzed them.

It is good when fear push you to act, run or fight, do something, do anything. It is bad when you get paralyzed.

First time when a gang came in some bigger numbers, in some form of attack I think harder thing for us was to realize fact that they have bad intentions I mean that they want to hurt us or kill us, after that fear took place, and that fear moved us to defend and to fight.

As i say later we all more or less learned to control fear and to somehow use it in our favor. Some did that better than others, some learned some did not want to.

One of my neighbour was normal guy, with normal life. He just could not understand that sh!t hit the fan and nothing is normal anymore. He was a guy who just payed to much attention to be law abiding citizen, never drove too fast, use seat belt, pay taxes, watch your language, trust the government.

Anyway when shtf, all kind of „police forces“ came up. I mean suddenly there were all kind of armed groups going trough town and doing things in the name of law or in the name of the „cause“ or whatever.

They rob, killed, mobilize people to fight for them. In those days for some people it was just hard to understand that law is gone, and there is something like „each men for himself“.

And each one of this group claiming that they have right to use force in the name of law and in the cause of protecting the people. Of course those armed groups were mostly just gangs more or less.

During our discussions in the first days of chaos, he stated to me that he can not go against the law, in other words he said to me if some police force came to his door and wants something from him, he cannot refuse it. Because those guys are the law, and he just cannot go against law.

I had other opinion, mine was more like who ever is armed and wants to enter my house is my enemy.

He just did not accept fact that times have changed. He was afraid to accept it, he wanted to believe that everything is fine and someone will take things into hands instead of him. He was this sort of the government will take care, some higher power will sort thing out guy.

When guys came to his door in the name „of law“ he just opened door and go with them, for „some talk in headquarters“.

After they rob him, he spent few months in their prison, working for them. I know that he was armed when they came, and I know that he could have tried to resist them, they probably in that case would turn back and find some easier target. But he choose to listen to them, he choose to trust them that they are law, and they are doing what is best for him.

I think he was just paralyzed by fear of the fact that he can somehow not abide the law. Even deep inside he probably knew that those guys are not any kind of law, he maybe just wanted to believe that everything is gonna be fine.

Like I speak about many examples in my course people see what they want to see and especially when things get tough they try to look for good things in bad situation. Unfortunately if there are no good things some even convince themselves there are.

25 responses to “The different faces of fear”

  1. Marcos Ronald Roman Gonçalves says:

    Painfully true, brother Selco. Thank you for this text always timely.

    • JL says:

      how did you add your pic Marcos?

      • J says:

        JL : If you go to the Gravatar site, they will allow you to register an email address and upload a(non-copyrighted) picture to associate with that email address. Afterward if you go to any site which is compatible with Gravatar, then every time you enter your email address in the comment section, the picture you selected will appear.

    • Julio Cheda says:

      Nice to see some Brazilian friends reading those amazing texts. Always help us to understand a little more about a SHTF scenario.

  2. JL says:

    I have seen people crippled by this mentality also, the desperate need to maintain social order structure in one’s own mind and no flexibility to adapt makes you a target. Excellent excellent points Selco as usual… To me I always have a super worst case scenario combined with a red herring clause in my mind meaning the worst I can possibly fathom plus the potential for it to be even worse with what I can’t see, this causes me to have plan A, B, C, D, E, F, G thinking. I also like to analyze FEAR in 2 ways. False Evidence Appearing Real or F*ck Everything And Run. Reality is in the moment of SHTF all rationality can go instantly out the window. Your insights are as important as sharing the events. Can’t thank you enough!! JL

    • larry says:

      FEAR, although i have heard the slogan false evidence appearing real, in sales maybe i buy it, but in combat situations, false evidence is something no one has the luxury of experiencing.

      i do like the second one though. live to fight another day. Can’t be bad.

      love the info and comments on this site. thanks, all.

  3. Robin Warren says:

    All plans are useless when SHTF. Fear and experience will save your life. Don’t expect for the other folks to play by the rules or operate according to your plan.

    You are no good to your family or friends if you are dead.


  4. J says:

    Another excellent article, well stated. I think JL had a great idea of the acronym for fear, “F*** Everything And Run” but of course, that may only mean running to your rifle, running for cover, bunker or whatever.
    An old military saying, which I suppose is universal, is that ‘The best plans all disappear in the first moments of enemy engagement’- and the mindset of the individual will indeed often determine outcome. If a person, like your friend, believes in his heart and mind that he cannot overcome, that resistance is futile, that the government or police force is too big to resist, then that person will be a victim or a prisoner, or dead. The mind must be taught to think, and the heart to believe, that no matter how hopeless it seems, no matter how many the enemy, victory is always possible, escape is always possible, survival is always possible.
    Keep up the great work!

    • grower says:

      I don’t think the man in Selco’s story was intimidated by the armed forces that came to his door, I think he believed it was right and good to obey them. He was naive (or deceived) enough to think they were telling the truth when they said they were the “government” or the “police force.” Sometimes in the face of overwhelmingly bizarre circumstances we lie to ourselves, and convince ourselves that things are as they’ve always been, and in a little while everything will return to normal.

      We who see what’s probably coming are more aware than most. We are mentally prepared, so when tshtf we will know what’s going on. From that point on, everyone is suspect. They are liars until proven not to be.

      • Christian Gains says:

        Good thoughts grower!

        In my life, I’ve had some really unique experiences with SHTF circumstances…once spent 8 harrowing, scary hours in a “Disesperados {“disapeared ones”} Prizon” — [actually, an old Brazilian Castle].

        Also, had to (LITERALLY) run for my life in Monterrey Mexico…the “Federales” were working on false intel, and were looking for me and my family and friends, with “kill on sight” orders!?!

        TRUST me…JL’s analogies are really relevant: “F-alse E-vidence A-pearing R-eal” and “F*ck E-verything A-nd R-un”.

        As for the poor fellow that Selco described, I think you’ve rightly interpreted Selco’s meaning…sadly, he refused to accept that collapse is a VERY NORMAL part of the Natural process…trees DO collapse…so do buildings…so do Govt.s, ALL for the same reason: degradation of their structure — corruption of their “main stays” / “physical design” / “Legal Design”.

        The reason I’m Soooooo VERY APPRECIATIVE of SELCO’s posts & classes, is due to the true reality of this statement:

        “If you’ve not heard of it, or experienced it, you’re three quarters undone. If you HAVE heard of it, but not experienced it, you’re 1/2 undone. BUT! If you’ve heard of it, studied it, planed for it, and learned from those who’ve experienced it, you’re 1/2 PREpared!”

        There is no HARSHER TEACHER than experience…so…do ALL that you can to PREpare, through humble learning from them that HAVE experience.

        Thanks SELDO! You’re a genuine God send Brother!

  5. joelC says:

    Extreme “flight or fight” adrenaline responses can be effectively controlled with proper “breathing” techniques. The “physiology” of why this is true is beyond the scope of this reply, but those of you w iPads and iPhones can download the “Tactical Breathing App” form the App Store for free. It will walk you though the 4-step exercise used by “fighting men/women” everywhere. Practice it, and it will be there for you when you need it.

    …as Selco says, “PARALYSIS” from fear will get you killed. That is a fact. Do “something” to get you moving and your mind working.

    • Christian Gains says:

      Wow! Good for you Joel! You’ve BTDT, I suspect, yes?….because ONLY those who’ve either BEEN under the “scope”, or in the “teeth” can appreciate the way your breathing changes as adrenalin surges through your body, and your mind searches for the “SOLUTION APP”…

      Too much oxygen can be harmful, just as too little is. But, controlling your breathing, will still your anxiety, thereby calming you, and bring FOCUS back…and, in times of danger, FOCUS IS ESSENTIAL.


      Don’t let little sounds, movements, or snatches of speech distract you from FOCUSING on your NEEDS & WHAT PLANS you NEED to make & execute! USE THEM, but do not LOSE your FOCUS on: (either ESCAPE or HIDE — FLIGHT or FIGHT).

      Now, there IS one other circumstance where you have another option.

      The “HIDE IN PLANE SIGHT” option.

      This is where you’ve begun, (or, are anticipating), to “run”. But!

      You realize that all those folks around you are very unaware of what’s transpiring, and therefore, they are carrying on “business as usual”. No hurry, no fuss, no bustle.

      Therefore, for you to suddenly jump up and burst forward, running for your life, you will INSTANTLY alert ANYONE watching that you’re afraid, and, therefore — very likely guilty of something! BUT!

      If you simply, “NORMALLY” move from where you are, towards your avenue of escape…you’re VERY LIKELY to make no impression on those watching. You APPEAR to be just as oblivious of the danger as ALL the rest, you give NO sign of hurry or worry, or fret. This is the ULTIMATE example of “Fear Control” being the BEST option. AND, where “breathing control” is ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE.

      In dangerous situations, ALMOST ALWAYS, CALM is the VERY BEST attitude.

    • sunflower says:

      For those of us without apps, and such. How do I research this “breathing” you write about? -Thank you.

  6. Clint says:

    These blogs are priceless! Well done. “Don’t be like the sheep!” Eventually they are all slaughtered.

  7. Gravlore says:

    I like paint ball and I pretend it is life and death. My heart races and it makes me control my breathing as not to fog up my mask. I know it is not the real deal but it sure helps to learn about common peoples movements. It is controlled but we try to take it seriously. I have gone in games where the game has lasted 2 hours with 6 of 30 being shot out (which is rare in paint ball). But when everyone is taking cover and moving slowly it really forces you to heighten your senses. The thought that someone might have a bead on you is somewhat scary as well.

    It is the only form of tactics that I have to my disposal and for me this is as important as shooting a real gun.

  8. Paul says:

    I think the paralysis stems in part from a deadly combination of second guessing yourself.
    What if I’m wrong?
    Then what will happen to me?
    What if and what will happen to me thinking stalls action and feeds the fearfulness of uncertainty.
    Sometimes all you’ve got is the reality of the moment with which to make a decision and then act upon it. Waiting for all the pieces of the puzzle so everything is clear so you are certain you wont get it wrong is a luxury. Some people live that way and like to play it safe when things are normal. But sometimes they die that way too if they are unable to adapt.

  9. twincougars says:

    Similar situation for people who live in dangerous ghetto neighborhoods. Even though not SHTF situation, people who COULD move out, don’t. They accept the drive-by shootings, drug dealing and violence as their everyday life and take no measures to escape from it, until they do…in a coffin.

  10. Teresa says:

    This is what I fear the most…for certain members of my family! I love my bro and sis in law….but my SIL has a fit if we shoot our guns while all of us are visiting my mother’s home out in the country…she doesn’t want her 2 daughters “exposed” to guns!
    I fear for all of them, because with that kind of attitude, she will be the first one to fall apart during SHTF and I won’t have the patience to deal with her!
    Why are people so ignorant to what is going on around them?

  11. jennifer smith says:

    A truly excellent book on this subject is: “Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes” by Amanda Ripley. The author has researched a variety of disaster situations in depth…including interviewing survivors… in an effort to figure out why they survived, while many of those around them did not. Why did they “rise to the occasion”, while others (who one might think would be very capable under pressure) are unable to function? Well worth the cost!

    • missj says:

      I totally agree about the Amanda Ripley book. It was quite eye opening indeed and totally worth my time.

  12. joelC says:

    ” “Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes” by Amanda Ripley”

    Ms. Smith alerts us all to a very fascinating study, well worth your time. There are a few more similar studies one can easily find on AMAZON under similar titles.

    “FREEZING IN PLACE” is actually an action common to the animal kingdom. Rabbits do it all the time, as do deer and elk. It was formally the major cause of deaths in “survivable” airline crashes. Passengers simply refused to move, wasting valuable escape time while the cabin filled with noxious products of combustion leading to asphyxiation prior to burning. 911 speaks for itself. Immediate evacuation would have saved thousands, but the PA system instructed people to, “return to their offices”, playing cleverly into our preprogrammed “freezing in place” action of the commons.

    Those with some formal training, like military training, tend to “move” more quickly and decisively. Actually any type of mental conditioning would be very helpful. It will help you realize “something BAD” is actually happening…to YOU, and you should, therefore, take an action. In an airplane incident, the Flight Attendants are trained to scream and yell, “MOVE,MOVE,MOVE!!!” “NOW,NOW” to force the passengers to activate their brains and leave their seats. Usually one or two passengers, militarily or Law Enforcement trained, are the first to move and that assists in the dynamics.

    The point is this: One can train for this. Use the Tactical Breathing Exercise (TBE) in the privacy of your home. Get use to employing it, and the next time you are frustrated in a traffic standstill when you simply “MUST” be somewhere, give it a conscious effort and use it. It will help return your mental functions to your Cortex brain area (rational thought) instead of the “lower” more primal Brain Stem areas (Fight or Flight). Try the TBE in any of your stressful situational issues, and you will quickly learn the value of knowing and using it. Then if you must flight or flee, you will more calmly and deliberately pick your target or exit with much more clarity and certainty.
    More importantly, your chances of actual survival increase exponentially.

  13. chester says:

    Yes indeed joelC. I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes” by Amanda Ripley.” Great recommendation and read for anyone interested in SHTF scenarios. The audio book was the format chose. The examples she
    uses are nicely tied into her ideas.

  14. Call Me Mom says:

    Hello, I just found my way here from Artic Patriot.
    Having spent some time in …challenging situations, it seems to me that the two biggests obstacles to survival are denial and the failure to have a plan.

    Denial, because, if you cannot/will not believe the objective truth of your situation, you cannot make good decisions about how to keep yourself alive.

    Failure to have a plan, because, if you don’t have a plan-even if it is only a mentally rehearsed plan of what could happen in a given scenario, you can’t choose which action to take. It doesn’t have to be a detailed plan. It can be as simple as go or stay, but if you haven’t considered it, chances are you will freeze, and that can cost you.

    One of the things I found myself doing over and over, was mentally rehearsing every option I could think of for every scenario I could imagine, no matter how extreme. I am convinced it saved my life.

    I also watched perfectly normal people make excuse after excuse for terribly dangerous and destructive behavior. That’s denial and it’s tough to beat.

  15. wheelsee says:

    “Fight or flight” is a mis-nomer. The actual responses are fight, flight, or freeze. In a stressful situation (read adrenaline dump), ~ 15-20% of folks will freeze. This is where the saying, “I was so scared I couldn’t move” comes from.

    From an ambush perspective, freezing (or staying in the kill zone) is the best response the ambusher can hope for. (vice versa also). When attacked (or about to be), survival depends, many times, on action (forward, rearward, sideways, etc).

    Freezing “tends” to be due to information (or sensory) overload. The situation is new and overwhelms the senses so the brain/body shut down.

    One simple trick……run scenarios through your head at home. Then, run them through your head again as you walk from your car in the parking lot to wherever, i.e if a guy with a knife were to jump out at me, what would be my response, etc? Now, change the scenarios such as in a restaurant, at the bank, filling your car at the gas station, etc. If you’ve already thought things through, you are more than 1/2 way there. We call it “visualization”. SEE yourself moving (either attacking or retreating).

    And don’t forget to BREATHE (slow 4-count) as stated above………helps blunt the effect of adrenaline

    • Selco says:


      I agree with going trough the scenarios and thinking about it, going again and again with all possibilities.

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