Part V
“Using the Past to Create Today’s Upsets”
By Randyl Longmire
Just like learning to drive a car
by looking through the wind-
shield at the turns and obstacles
ahead, you’ve learned to be suc-
cessful and confdent by looking
to the future in preparation for
things to come. We are now
working from a different para-
digm, which will take even more
practice to embrace. We are
learning to look to the past for
obstacles and barriers that have
previously caused upset and
failure. We will focus on past
upsets, embellish the stories sur-
rounding them, and even blame
them for future disappointments.
You could say that we are learn-
ing to drive while looking only
in the rearview mirror. In doing
so, we become oblivious to the
future that continues to hurtle
toward us. This causes a chain
reaction of chaos, unpredictabil-
ity, and general hopelessness.
Dwelling on the problems of
the past also allows us to revisit
the feelings of stress, anxiety,
sadness, and even pain that
were experienced before.
Although the events are long
over, our memory can manifest
the experiences remarkably well,
and even embellish them a bit.
Look to your own past for parts
of your stories that bring forth
feelings of sadness or dimin-
ished confdence. Ìf you are hav-
ing trouble pinpointing an area
of past upset due to common
memory-repression, start with
general scenarios like school,
home, or friends, and begin
narrowing your focus from there.
Once you discover a memory
that brings up “negative’” feel-
ings, focus on that memory and
even try intensifying the experi-
ence by adding details that make
the emotions surrounding the
memory more extreme.
This focus on the past not only
allows us to be blindsided by the
future as it continues to unfold,
it allows us to blame the past
events for these apparently reoc-
curring upsets. We are narrow-
focusing creatures, so whatever
is in our limited feld of vision at
any moment is naturally an easy
target for blame.
Learning to drive while watch-
ing the rearview mirror, we learn
to blame whatever we see in the
past for our continued head-on
collisions. Blaming the past for
our current and future problems
is a simple way to become
a helpless victim. You can’t
change the past, but you can
blame it for your present dis-
couragement. For this reason,
dwelling on the past is an excel-
lent tool for diminishing your
unwanted sense of personal
power and responsibility, along
with any perception of what you
might be capable of achieving in
the future.
The belief that predicting the
future is possible by looking
into the past is a key element of
causing and maintaining up-
set. Take, for example, the war
in Iraq, from the media to the
water-cooler comparisons with
the failures of the war in Vietnam
that have been made. In bring-
ing our attention to the upsets
of the past, we are re-creating
the same experience around
our current circumstances. Our
mind brings the upset from the
past into our present and even
out into our future. The news
media has been exercising these
tactics for decades, so it may
not come as naturally for you at
frst. Ìf it doesn't, or if this whole
column makes no sense to you
so far, use that as a way to feel
discouraged and personally un-
able to grasp what others seem
to comprehend easily.
Keeping Others Out
of Your World
One of the biggest threats to
avoiding peace and joy in your
life is found in the relationships
one has with others. While
most of your friends will readily
support your feelings of hope-
lessness, some altruists have
a tendency to give you good
advice and are heaven-bent on
bringing you out of your newly-
attained depression. These
people gain their empowering
qualities through the use of
compassion, empathy, accep-
tance, and grace - qualities that
can be diffcult to combat if you
are not weak-willed enough. I
will give you one method that
is often overlooked: Don’t
speak to these people. They
gain their power through keen
listening skills, and if you don’t
speak, they are left guessing as
to what they are supposed to be
compassionate and empathetic
to. They lose their effectiveness
when you do not let them into
your world.
Through techniques of self-
deprecation, blame and nega-
tivity, dwelling on the past, and
lack of communication, your life
can be shaped into one that you
consistently hate. Using the
methods you’ve been discover-
ing in the course of this column,
you can bring distance to your
relationships, failure where you
had success, despair where
there was hope, and once again
regress into the endarkened
state of mind you once feared.
With perseverance, you will soon
be looking down again.
You, too, can turn from bless-
ing others when they sneeze
to damning them for spreading
communicable disease.
Randyl Longmire is not a doctor.
He is not a therapist. He has
won no awards, and he has no
standing in the academic world.
He is generally unqualifed for
most professions, pursuits, hob-
bies, and athletic activities.
The Word and its editorial staff
are not responsible for any loss
of life, self-esteem, or livelihood
as a result of Mr. Longmire’s
teachings, and we feel they are
in poor taste.