Teaching: The Past

QUALITY SCHOOL RESOURCES  Choice Theory Axioms Workshop from Murray High School

Axiom #5 What happened in the past that was painful

has a great deal to do with what we are today,
but revisiting this painful past
can contribute little or nothing to what we need to do now:
improve an important present relationship.

1. Have a student read Axiom #5 aloud to the rest of the group.

2. (10 min.) Allow students to declare whether or not they agree with this
axiom. Each student should give some examples to
support their opinions.

Count up how many agree and how many disagree and write the
numbers below:

Agree with Axiom #5 Disagree with Axiom #5

At beginning: _________ _________
At ending: _________ _________

3. (35 min.) Consider each of the following painful past experiences and the
resulting attitudes. Decide if these experiences are valid
justifications for present behaviors and attitudes.
— Ask: “What does this person really want?”
“Are the present behaviors working to get this person what they
“Are the past experiences keeping this person from getting what
they want?”
“What are some things this person could do and/or think to get
closer to what they want?”

a. My mother always liked my brother best and so I never can feel like I’m
worth loving.
b. I was the first child and my parents always expected more of me than
anyone else and I could never meet their expectations, so now,
it’s no wonder I don’t try very hard to accomplish anything.
c. I was in a car wreck when I was ten and I was the only one of my entire
family to survive, so I have had to grow up in one foster family
after another. I am furious at the system that abused me and at
God who left me in this ridiculous situation.
d. My parents got a divorce and I could never get over the feelings of
betrayal, so now I can’t form any long-lasting relationships.
e. My parents were loving and generous and my brothers and sisters were
always kind to me. I am usually happy, but this makes me feel
guilty because of all the suffering in the world.
f. I grew up in inner city Washington, DC, where the murder rate is one of
the highest in the world and I saw three of my friends gunned
down right in front of my high school. Now I carry my own AK47
and nobody messes with me.
g. My step-father abused me and now I hate all men.

4. (10 min.) Following is a common justification for studying our past

— If we do not study the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

— Do you agree that it would be a good idea for each of the people listed above
to study the difficult, painful experiences they have had? Explain.

5. (10 min.) What can each of the people listed in #3 above change about their
past experiences?

6. (10 min.) What can each of the people listed in #3 above change about their
present lives? How should they go about creating these
transformations in their present lives?

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