We are generally driven by two forces in life: we seek pleasure, and we avoid pain. Fear is our mind predicting pain will result from an anticipated situation, action, or decision. Fear is our mind instinctually protecting us from danger.
Rationally and consciously avoiding unnecessary pain is essential for survival, but fear serves far too often as a mind-control mechanism. Despots (political, religious, or parental) enforce their will by inflicting or threatening pain. The objective is to create mind controlling fear. Our instincts benevolently seek to protect us, but they evolved over millions of years and have not changed much in the last 50,000 years. In contrast, our lives have changed dramatically. We are not afraid of driving 70 mph in our cars, yet an accident could easily kill us. Our instincts are still in the Stone Age and know nothing of cars.
Fear should always be questioned. Despots would not rely on fear if their plans were beneficial, and our instincts are only relevant for cavemen. Fear can imprison the mind.
My childhood and youth were very difficult. I had so many self-limiting beliefs and fears that I lived in a virtual cage inside my own mind. I became so miserable, that I decided to end my life. I researched and experimented with several methods trying to find one that would be certain and relatively painless.
I decided not to talk to my friends or family about my decision to end my life. It saddened me to know they would have wanted me to reach out to them, but I was sure I was going to do it. I didn’t want the person I called to blame himself because I had talked to him and then killed myself anyway.
I was experimenting with a method of hanging that restricts blood flow to the brain when I awoke on the floor with a broken rope tied around my neck. After I few minutes, I realized where I was and what had happened. The experiment was a success. The blood to my brain had been stopped, and I had passed out. I would have died, but the rope I had used in the experiment could not support my weight. I immediately found a stronger rope, but as I was tying the knots, I stopped to reflect.
I did not choose to be born. I did not choose my parents, my family, or where I grew up. I did not choose my personality; I did not get to choose anything. I never asked for life. Life was forced upon me. As I held the hope, I realized that I knew exactly how to die. Anytime, anywhere, I could choose to die. In that moment, I was given the choice denied me at birth: Kurt, do you want to live? I realized the worst possible mistake is living a life you don’t enjoy, because nothing can possibly be worse than death. No matter what I do, how terrible the mistake, death is the very worst possible consequence.
I realized that I was not afraid to die. I was not afraid of anything anymore. I was fearless, and I had absolutely nothing to lose.
I realized that my life was a free gift with no strings attached. There was no longer any pressure, fear of failure, or concern for what other people might think. I was free to do whatever I wanted with my life. Suddenly killing myself seemed like a crazy thing to do. I only get once chance to live, and there are endless opportunities and adventures to explore.
In that moment, I took control of my life and chose to live, to really live, to face life squarely without fear, and to accept whatever comes without flinching. At the time I had no idea who I was, what I wanted, or what I should do, but I was determined to pursue a dream no matter how ridiculous, no matter where it took me. I had always loved martial arts as a child, so I decided to compete in full contact fighting. I learned many valuable lessons from fighting (which I’ll discuss in future posts), but that chapter of my life is now complete.
I have since discovered myself and my purpose, but I will never forget or regret the moment I look control of my life and became fearless.
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