Conditioned Fear

I received the sweetest email from a concerned reader. He thought it might be in my best interest to not write when I am struggling because it opens me up to negative comments and criticism. He didn’t want me to be embarrassed. I always appreciate when someone genuinely has concern for me, but I am not embarrassed.

This blog is an accurate and honest journal of my healing process. That process is not always pretty and it would be a lie for me to pretend it was. I know there are so many strong folks out there, many of them women and many who have handled their situations better and I applaud them for that, but there are also many more who, like me, have found the healing to be a bit more work.

Colonel Grossman has this to say…

Conditioned fear can be extremely difficult to extinguish. It cannot be eliminated through passive deterioration or even active attempts to do so. Even if it seems that it has been extinguished, stress may cause it to reappear. What this means is that giving warriors the experience of losing in a simulation actually begins to condition a risk aversion pathway in the brain to which they may turn during similar experiences in the future—they may actually stop fighting and give up as they were programmed to do in training.Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, On Combat …

Conditioned fear can be EXTREMELY difficult to extinguish…It cannot be eliminated…even active attempts to do so.

Not being able to overcome 30 years of fear conditioning is not a matter of lack of will power or drama. It takes times and a lot of work to change those neural pathways.

It is why I am relentless in my nagging of John and Arete to train. It’s not just something that is fun, that I like to do, it is something I need to do. I need it. I need to actively change my neural pathways.

It is why I am very stubborn about not being coddled in training. Coddling actually achieves the opposite of the intended goal.

18 thoughts on “Conditioned Fear

    • I guy I work with suggested I get the book. I have heard of it, but never got around to it. I bought it this morning and have been reading like crazy. I also follow him on FB, so I get the Sheepdog tip of the day. Very valuable information.

  1. Good book, and good points in it. Fear is something we ALL live with, and how we manage it is what defines our ability to live and function.

  2. I’m sure many find a great deal of comfort in your posts. It’s often difficult for me to believe that anyone else could possibly have the same fears that I do – then I read someone going through alot of the same stuff and it offers me a different perspective. And, I’m sure many cringe a bit and think: “ya sure you want to share that???” All with your best in mind. Keep it up!

    It has seemed to me, from the first day I read your blog, that you are on a good path. Our journeys aren’t always meant to be easy. A day at a time Ma’am, a day at a time.

    Col Grossman’s book should be a “must read” for every shooter. If someone doesn’t have his book, here’s the link:

    Enjoy your day AGirl, please, thank your husband for his service.

  3. You’ve come a long ways in a short time. Keep doing what you’ve been doing.

    Yes, Grossmans’s stuff is a “must-read.”

  4. Felt moved to comment on this. I’ve been watching your journey.

    After what you went through you could be forgiven for falling by the wayside as many choose to do, but I have to say I admire tremendously the courage you’ve shown in overcoming your fears. That stuff is never easy, but oh so worth the effort.

  5. Along w/ Col. Grossman you should read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker, and “Meditations on Violence” by Sgt Rory Miller. I relearned much from Miller’s book. It reminded me of many things I learned years ago and had forgotten.
    For self-defense, I also recommend an article from Jissen Magazine called “How to Survive a Knife Assault” by Rev. Arthur Chenevey. It looks at the realities of a knife fight not the Holywood! page 16 at the following link

    • I have read the Gift Of Fear. I have written briefly about parts of that book. It is very good! I will check out the others….thank you.

  6. I actually thought about you and the progress you’ve made when I read Grossman’s Sheepdog Tip of the Day on conditioned fear. I’m glad you posted about it 🙂

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