This is the part 2 of my blog Reprogramming Yourself.
It happened one day while I was living in the state of Kerala, South India…
I have ideas of what a safe and considerate driver should be based upon my experiences in America and Australia. Indians do not drive like I would like. When I first arrived in India I liked the freedom from over-regulation that Indians enjoy, but too many drivers drive very dangerously or without consideration of anyone else on the road. Coming only inches from being hit by a driver who is traveling in the opposite direction at very high speeds are common occurrences. Having someone cut a turn right in front of you with no time to stop is a common occurrence. People walking in the street, with no regard for their own safety, animals, large rocks, other objects and large potholes, all add to the stress of driving in India.
I took my wife for a doctor’s appointment in Kottayam, which was a three hour drive from our home in Kumily; we left at 6 am. This was a trip we made every week for many weeks. I had plenty of time to build up some habits of judgmental, angry and hateful thoughts; Law of Attraction had plenty of time to deliver me experiences that matched my thoughts.
On this particular drive back home I had three different drivers deliberately move into my way for no reason while I was trying to pass them. They were going slower than I wanted to go; I drive a safe but brisk speed. I had signaled with my horn as usual. They responded by moving into the middle of the road preventing me from passing them. There was no apparent reason for doing this. There were no blockages on their side of the road, these incidences did not occur at curves, and there were no oncoming vehicles. What I was trying to do was usual and expected driving behavior there in India. I believed they were blocking me on purpose and I got quite angry. I began accumulating these offenses and thinking about pulling one of them over, yanking them out of their car, and beating them in the street. I spent a fair amount of time thinking these kinds of thoughts, never really intending to do so. On top of this I was also accumulating judgment about all of the other oncoming busses, trucks and even cars that were driving in my lane when there was plenty of room in their own lane. The anger in me built up.
Then it happened…I was passing a bus in a very safe manor on wide open road. I had nearly gotten past the bus when I heard it lightly hit the left rear bumper of my car. I flew into a mad rage. If I had thought about it I would have known he did no damage to my car. He did not affect my course of driving at all. But all of that built up emotion enraged me. Somehow I grabbed the parking brake lever and pulled it up. I never use that, except for parking and starting out on a hill. I don’t know why I pulled on it. That type of break locks into place. You have to push a button to release it. Because of the speed we were driving and not really understanding what I had just done I did not have the presence of mind to release the break. This caused me to spin my car and land on the side of the road in tall grass and weeds up against a hillside.
I got out of the car in a furious rage. I went to the bus driver’s window, climbed up, reached in and smacked him on the face. I didn’t slap him very hard, but it was insulting. Then I broke one of his windshield wipers off and threw it in the street. He got off the bus and I threatened to beat him. About twenty other men got off the bus and they were all threatening to beat me. I am sure they did not even know that the bus driver hit me. All they knew was that I spun my car and then smacked the driver for it and then continued to abuse him verbally. It was really crazy. Eventually my wife Shyni got me to calm down and we left. Thank God there was no real damage to our car or to us.
I felt justified in my mind that their actions were wrong and that my ideas about driving were right. Until this event occurred. After that I realized that God was prodding me through that bus driver and all of the other drivers too. It became very clear because the bus driver really did nothing to me, nor did the other drivers. My desire to police Indian drives attracted the worst drivers into my path. My judgmental thinking made me slap a man, which is something I just don’t do. My anger nearly killed Shyni and me when I spun our car, and nearly got me beaten by a mob of angry men from the bus.
In my life I have learned, more than once, and in more than one way, that if I expect the world to change, or even any single person or event to change, because I did not like it or because “I was right and they were wrong” that I would make myself miserable. Unless I catch each thought of judgment and criticism and change them, then those thoughts would slowly build up and eventually flare up in anger at some specific person or event that probably did not even deserve the anger that was heaped upon them.
It is a big job, but we must watch each and every thought and change the ones that do not serve us. But how do we do this? What are the practices that help us to change our habits of thinking? How do we know what changes we really need to make?
The answers to these questions are what I have been seeking and experimenting with for many years now. In this particular situation I knew from experience what I needed to do and I immediately made the necessary changes. I could make the correct changes immediately and effectively because I had proper guidance from my teachers and I had much practice in this art of personal transformation.
What I did worked and very powerfully so…I made at least ten more long distance drives like that in India since that incident. Each time I was able to maintain my new practice. AND the outer world changed as a result of my new practice.
I am sure those same crappy drivers were still on the road doing their same dangerous and stupid things, but not while I was around. I only encountered drivers when their behavior was good. The drivers in my path were polite and courteous. The drivers I shared the road with were safe and operating sanely.
The real world changed as a result of changing my mind. This change persisted in every single drive I made since that time, which was many. The difference in driving experiences was so remarkable that every family member who rode in the car with me has noticed. Certainly they noticed how much calmer I was, but more than that they noticed that the outer world changed too.
Making that change in myself had a ripple effect in my psyche. I now calm down much quicker in other situations where anger is rising in me even if I feel justified in my perspective on a situation. We shall see what else Life has to reveal to me and in what other ways anger might try to find expression in my life, but for now I know a dramatic change has taken place within me and it is a welcome one.
One by one, piece by piece, we whittle away at our unwanted personality traits and develop new ones that serve us in ever more powerful ways.
(There WAS much more to this blog but it has been removed…
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Author of Unforgettable: A Love and Spiritual Growth Story
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