What My Road Rage Experience Taught Me About Overcoming Fear

How To Harness The Power of Self-Awareness of a Black Belt

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A few weeks ago on my way to teaching a class, suddenly a car turned left at an intersection while I had the green light. I quickly swerved around him to avoid an accident as I leaned on my horn. The middle aged man responded angrily by waving his middle finger, holding it up while I drove by. Yup, it wasn’t a quickie, but a long drawn out one to make sure I took notice. I guess the longer he holds it up equates to the amount of anger he has. I assume that is what he meant but hey I’m not a mind reader so who knows what the chap was thinking.

As I continued on my way I started feeling a little upset that this person who did not have the right of way would react in such an inappropriate manner. Does he realize the person he just did that to is a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt and trained fighter? My primal instincts started to kick in, and the thought of stopping the car to teach him a lesson in manners came to mind. However, I took a couple of deep breaths, proceeding down the street to the academy without interruption. I felt ashamed that the thought came to mind because what purpose would it serve? To beat up an untrained individual who is probably miserable in his own skin. It’s just non-verbal message gesture towards me, not worth it and plus real black belts in my opinion don’t act like hooligans in public.

Instead of getting angry, I thought about the gentleman in the car and what kind of person would react in that fashion. The more I thought about it, the calmer I became and the prouder I was for not responding to his flipping of the bird. His reaction to me is not a reflection of me but more or less a problem with himself. It was his fear coming out. Perhaps he has an unfulfilled relationship, a job he is miserable doing, or fear of not being in control of the situation.

Whatever it was I thought in would be in his best interests to change his ways by confronting his fears for his very own safety. For instance, what if he pulled the same stunt one day on another person. What if it was a career criminal who was having a bad day, angry with life, decides to use his concealed weapon to teach him a lesson? Is this all worth it? Just so he can feel right? All this because he wasn’t able to let go of a simple incident.

It amazes me the amount of people I see every day who live in fear not realizing how much energy they are expending on being angry instead of showing love and happiness.

As a trained high level martial artist, I fortunate to be able to develop my self-awareness over the years. I grew to know / accept my fears, constantly confronting them in class on a daily basis since I started training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. My heightened sense of self-awareness allowed me to confront my fears instead of running away from them. It allowed me to be truly honest with myself, to grow as an individual, better understand others and the reasons they behave the way they do. It has helped me experience new things, take new risks, and get out of my comfort zone outside of the dojo.

About twenty years ago, I was that young angry man who wanted others to pay for my misery, my pain, and unhappiness. As I had time to reflect in my middle age years, I can’t help but shake my head on all the years of lost enjoyment and happiness. My fears had owned me, never allowing me to express myself to the fullest to become the best me.

Today, I live each day to the fullest, always learning, cherishing what this great life has blessed me with. The ability to own my own business, do the work I’m passionate about, share my wisdom with my clients, live an authentic life, and reach my full potential in life. I can only hope that one day my message will spread around world to help others do the same.

For example, this past weekend I took an art class. It was my first art class in 33 years, and out of my comfort zone. However, an amazing thing happened that day. It brought back fond childhood memories of the time when I picked up my first paint brush, to create my first work of art. I remember proudly when the teacher commended me for my artistic talent encouraging me to pursue art further. When I told my parents they scoffed at the idea, telling me art is for dreamers and not a real career. I never picked up a paint brush again after that day, that is until last Saturday.

The experience was amazing; not only did I have fun but I found it therapeutic. It brought back my inner child, to a time when it was okay to dream big, to be me without inhibitions, to try new things without fear. The little voice inside my head said, “Welcome back Raz, where have you been all these years. We sure missed you.”

What are your fears? Are they holding you back from living the life you want to live? Are you living life according to your values?

If no, start acknowledging those fears by writing them down in a journal. For each fear, ask yourself if that fear is something you can control or cannot control?

The fears you cannot control I want you to cross it off your list. Transfer the fears you can control on to a new list. From here on begin the practice self-awareness to recognize when that fear appears in your life. Make a decision to address the fear.

It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO, president, high level athlete, or celebrity. We all have fears of one form or another. When you tackle one, another fear shows up. Learn to use them to your advantage, as an opportunity to remedy what is not working in your current life. Embrace the fear, understand that human excellence lies behind your fears.

Question: What fears are holding you back from living the life you deserve? How has it affected your life so far? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

photo credit: Road Rage via photopin (license)

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