Posted: January 12, 2014 in IJRS Courses

Amelia Long

Personal 101

Lesson 11 — You are not your past.

I found this lesson to actually be very enjoyable as I feel like this is an area where I do not have so much trouble. While others might look into their past and despair over things that they did, I have such moments, but always fixed them as soon as I learned there was a problem. Rather than look back at my past with regret, I often look back at my past very lovingly…so I found that I oftentimes did not find as much hindrance as other people might…as it is the fear of my uncertain future which oftentimes holds me back from something and not the other way around.

For this week’s discussion, do you believe you are capable of change?

—I am always capable of change. I never stop changing. There might be times where I feel like I have come to a standstill,  but it never stays that way for long. I am sure that I could change any aspect of myself…it’s just about having the motivation and willpower to do so (something that I always seem to lack and that I am working to improve upon).

To what extent?

—As I mentioned above, I never stop changing, so there really is no answer for how ‘much’ I could change or to what ‘extent’ because the possibilities are truly limitless when you start breaking down those walls and really learning from your mistakes. I can easily say I am not the same person I was last year, and I am FOR SURE not the person I was 4 years ago. It just depends on how much you want to change and if you can truly come to a point where you no longer feel the need to change, to improve, or to ‘grow’.

For instance, do you believe you can change some things, but not others?

—There are some things that I often feel that I have no control over…such as my willpower, motivation, and things like my paranoia and insecurities. While I know that there is some way to control these things, I have yet to figure them out to change them, though I try very often. I have used ways to try and persuade myself to do something…even used rewards and etc. As far as tackling my paranoia and insecurities…I have done my best to try and live day-by-day, soak up all the positive things that happen to me and try to mentally ‘block’ out all the things that scare me and prevent me from indulging 100% in the moment.

What about others, do you believe other people can change?

—I firmly believe that other people can change, but, they have to be ‘willing’ to change. If someone is not willing to change then they have halted their growth as said in the lesson. They have basically told themselves: “I have always been this way and always will be.” And thus they have given up any effort to change and will not change until they finally decide that they want to be a different and better person.

Do you expect it, or do you expect they will remain who they are?

—I personally expect all people to change because change is just part of life. You make mistakes and are supposed to learn from them…you might make the same mistake 5 or 6 times, but eventually you get the hint and stop what you are doing, change the behavior, and therefore change yourself. For an example…when I was younger, I would do anything for attention. I went so far as to injure myself and threaten suicides because I was SCREAMING for someone to notice me and just talk to me, just a little. This worked…but in a very negative light. Soon people were talking to me, but with caution…they feared me and feared what I would do to myself…and that’s not what I wanted. People even made fun of me and shunned me for being the ‘attention whore’, and some people still hold that against me today.

Basically I saw that this was the wrong way to do things…and I wanted people to see me for who I really was. Not some crazy, maniac kid that just wanted some friends…so, I literally wiped the slate clean. Reached out to people instead of sitting in the corner crying, and, if someone did not like me, I shrugged it off and moved on to someone else. I never did anything else to get attention in a negative way. I did the things I loved even if they seemed weird, and in high-school…people loved me, flocked to me, thought I was cool and unique. I learned from my mistake, from my past, and it helped me make a better future for myself.

For someone to NOT change and always retain who they are (if they are in a bad situation), it just does not seem natural. It’s like someone always driving their car into a pole (on purpose) even though they know it will damage their car and hurt them in the process. It just does not make sense. First time…okay it was a mistake. Second time, you should know better.

Are you disappointed when they don’t change, or are you surprised when they do change?

—I would have to say that it is both when it comes to this question. There are some people that I am very disappointed with when I see they have not changed. Loved-ones especially. You see them go through this life and really mess things up…they cry and say they will change and you really have hope for them, and then you see them doing all the same things and wondering why their life still stinks.  It’s people like that which really throw you for a loop and surprise you when they DO change because you have no way of seeing it coming.

I’m going to use Taz as an example again. Taz has a pretty bad temper. She gets mad over silly things and makes mountains into molehills when she gets really agitated over something. Well, I got used to her getting mad over small things, then stomping off and taking a nap. There was no talking, no nothing. Half the time, I did not even know what I did wrong and if I asked her what I did, she would just get more angry. A year or so later there came a time where she got mad over something and stomped off. I had learned to just leave her alone. Not even an hour later she woke up from her nap, sat me down, and she discussed why she was mad and how this could have been prevented. She admitted that it was silly of her to get mad, and rather than nod and accept her apology, I think I sat there dumbfounded for over three minutes because she had never told me these things before…never admitted to being wrong, barely apologized. Usually she got mad, went to sleep, and when she woke up we never talked about it and forgot it ever happened. It was an amazing development…and her temper has gotten better ever since. She is always surprising me with long and serious talks where she listens and doesn’t get frustrated…and it’s still so surprising because there was a point where I thought she was always going to be the same because it did not seem like she wanted to change.

 Sorry for the long example.



Choose an event from your past to look at and learn something from. It needs to be somewhat emotionally charged, but you don’t need to choose the most traumatic event to ever happen to you.

Try to view yourself in that time period with compassion and understand, rather than judgment. Can you better determine why a situation happened as it did, and how you could better handle a similar situation now?

Remember that you continue to gain new tools and under-standing as you train, which you did not have at that time. Write up as much as you feel com-fortable with regarding what you learned. In particular, how was the experience of looking at the past different when you consciously choose to release judgment?

— For this, I used my New Years incident that just happened.

It was New Years Eve and I went to Graf…to a bar with some soldiers and Taz. The Bar was packed and basically Taz sat at a table while I sat at the bar and mingled. At some point, there was a bottle of Hennessy being passed around. I took a big gulp of it and got cheers all around. It made me feel good, made me feel empowered that these people thought I was awesome and hot stuff.

I don’t drink often, and I had only been drunk twice before (not bad for social drinking often and being 22)—never threw up, never passed out, nothing serious. So, I had this idea that I was good handling my liquor. I guess it got to a point where this guy was asking me for a threesome with my girl. I kept turning down his offer in a nice way, was trying to keep my patience, and while we spoke rather calmly, I kept getting that bottle of Hennessy passed to me, where I would gulp down some more without paying attention and would then get more cheers.

I had polished off a whole bottle by myself before one of my friends told me to stop because he was worried for me. I had not started to feel the effects of the alcohol, but promised to stop, and I stopped drinking altogether as to better that promise.

…and that’s the last thing I remember.

The alcohol kicked in and 31 minutes after midnight I started spewing all over myself and all over the bar. I remember waking up in a van with a bag being held up to my face, dry heaving, and not knowing what was going on. Then I fell unconscious again. Next thing I know I am waking up and walking down the hall to Taz’s room being held up by 2 guys (I knew them). We get in the room and Taz is stripping me and cleaning all the vomit off of me. Then I am in a  shower being hosed off, and then I’m in the bed and telling Taz to keep the window open so that I don’t overheat and die.

The next morning I wake up and get to hear the horror stories of what I just 12 hours prior…I hear about how a doctor kept trying to feed me lemons and would squeeze one in my ear every time I fell unconscious to try and bring me back. It took 4 people to carry me out of that bar because I was dead-weight…and I guess at one point, I told Taz to forget about me to which she replied with a very loud, very mean: “FUCK YOU!”…but I deserved it.

When asked why I said that, I really had no answer other than my drunk self knew that I was embarrassing myself and had embarrassed Taz as well…so I just wanted to be left to my own devices so that she could run off and enjoy her New Years without having to worry about me. Even hearing these stories, I was red with embarrassment and fear because I could have easily died that night. I dunno.

All I know is that after that little incident I made a 2-drink limit for myself (unless it’s Mike’s or Disaronno  and Coke), I went home and dumped out the rest of the whiskey I had in my room. I told myself that I need to be more responsible and not be stupid just to impress people…and the next time I was offered shots and all sorts of drinks, I politely refused and drank a cola instead. Might seem like a silly example, but I was seriously ashamed of myself for what happened. But others assured me that it had happened to them too…everyone does it at least once, and that I just had to move on. I took them on their word, realized that I did not have to be that stupid person from New Years, and so, I changed it…changed me…and did it for the better.

Not I tell that story and laugh.


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