It would have been easy for me to have ended up in prison or maybe even dead at a young age. From an early point in my life I was headed down the path of might makes right in my understanding of how the world works. The examples I saw of how the people closet to me dealt with life only seemed to bear this out. My father was a hard man who was raised by an even harder man. My grandfather’s outlook on rising children was based solely on discipline. As a result of his attitude my father basically believed that the strongest person was always the right person.
One of my earliest experiences with the concept that physical prowess was the answer to any conflict was when I was 7. I had come home crying because some bullies had knocked the books out of my hands and pushed me down on my way home from school. My father was home and asked me what happened. When I told him about the bullies he decided to take me in the garage and "teach" me how to fight by basically smacking the crap out of me. When he had finished “teaching me”, he said “If you ever come home again crying I will give you a lot worse.”
I am sure that this attitude that I eventually adopted in self defense was responsible for me getting suspended from school for fighting a number of times before I graduated. What sticks in my mind is that my father never said a negative thing about being suspended, except for one occasion. I had gotten into a fight and almost broken the nose of the Sheriff's son. All my father said was "I understand that you have to defend yourself, but the next time, can you make sure it is not the kid of someone who can cause us problems!”
Before I came to see where I was headed, I could have gone a direction that might have ended up in disaster. I had accepted the programming I was exposed to and didn't understand that the direction I had taken in life was really not my choice and thereby not something I had to accept. You have to recognize that you are responsible for your own life and do not need to follow any programming, either intentional or accidental, that you might have been exposed to. The problem is you also have to be totally honest with yourself and look closely at your attitudes in life. That is not something most people are willing to do because it can challenge who you think you are. But if you really want to be confident and comfortable with yourself it's the only way to change your programming and be who you really want to be.