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Joseph Benitez F01519

My biggest change


I’ve been spending my time reading books, and the main thing that I’ve learned is that the only way to actually truly change is to change your perception.


It takes 1/10 of a second for a brain to make a judgment of a person place or situation. Throughout our lives we experience all types of situations and come into contact with all types of people, and through these encounters we develop and “intuition“. We feel confident in these “intuitions“ and we trust the judgment. We become bias and we begin to develop a perception of the world.


When something happens to us, such as traumas, injustices, or painful situation, we store them away. For some of us we don’t deal with them. The traumas that I went through, the injustices and the pains, I’ve left them alone and did not deal with them. I didn’t know how, so they just sat in my violation column. What I needed to forgive, but I resent it instead, when I need to ask for forgiveness, I acted in violence instead. I allowed those traumas to fester, I allowed them to distort my perception. I held onto a negative perception, by refusing to deal with the pain properly, it started to affect every aspect of my life, my family, my friends, and even my faith. My view of the world was negative so my thoughts were negative, my beliefs were negative, and my actions followed suit. No matter how hard I tried to change my behavior, I tried to change my attitude, but it never worked. It was like having the street names, but the wrong city map. I continued to find myself an unfortunate situations; I needed to find a change.


Doing CGA (criminal gang anonymous) I came to step 4: “a fearless and moral inventory of my wrongs, resentments, and the good“. I took the step very seriously, and when I finished my list, and moved on the step 5, which is taking responsibility, I felt myself finally able to breathe. I realize that I held onto all those traumas, injustices, and painful situation and after doing step 4 and 5 I was able to finally deal with them. I relieve myself of that burden. After I got rid of my traumas, injustices, and pain, I replace them with compassion, acceptance, love, and forgiveness. When I interacted with people I came in with these principles and would be able to avoid getting myself into bed situation‘s. Doing this I began to change my character and my habits, all the negative thoughts I had were no longer there. I began to change my actions as well. I can’t say I no longer run into trouble, especially in prison, but what I can say is that I handle it very differently.


Where I used to have a negative perception and any time something happened to me or someone did something to me, I would react negatively. I’ve now changed it to where I feel compassion toward that person, understanding that, maybe they’re having a bad day or somethings wrong with them. I accept the situation, not getting angry because it’s not going my way. I’ve come to understand that I only control myself so if I don’t want to find myself in bad spot I had to change my perception. I’ve also come to understand how important it is to give back. So, I make sure that I am able to help anyone that would like it. I have found out that my purpose is to give back so that I can make amends for the wrongs of my past and to also help someone to not make the same mistakes that I’ve made. Our stories are similar, the only difference is the details. So whenever an opportunity comes, I share my struggles and how I’ve been able to combat them. I also make sure that they understand the power of asking for help from your support network and also your higher power.


I believe in God and I believe in the sacrifice he made for my sins. When I came to understand this, I realized that God forgave me, so I can forgive myself and others as well. I can forgive myself of the wrongs I’ve done and the wrongs that have been done to me. So in doing so, I was able to move forward with my healing. You must have a higher power. For me it started with my family and I realized it wasn’t them specifically it was the love for them, that made me take that step. And God is love.


We cannot really in our own will anymore it’s what got us here. I hope that this was able to give you an understanding of me. I have to constantly, every day, better myself and I do this through reading books going to college, and practicing step 12 of GA, AA/NA every day. I make the choice to live my life with compassion, acceptance, love, and forgiveness. Making amends for those I hurt and ensuring that I never hurt another person again.

Why do you want to participate in the Amends Project?


I want to participate in this so that I may be able to share my journey to redemption.

The path that I have chosen, has let me down a dark, destructive road to misery, filled with pain and suffering, both caused by me, but also felt by me as well.

Sharing my truth along with my experiences has been the most important part of my journey to recovery. Having the confidence and courage to speak my hurt has allowed me to name that hurt so that it no longer hid itself from me, and I was able to begin to correct those wrongs. I learned that ignoring the problem only makes it worse. And that is why sharing has been so important to me, it’s allowed me to be able to understand the problem and once I understand it, I was able to begin to fix it. Sharing my truth and experiences with others has been a healing experience for me, it’s allowed me to gain back my faith in others, and get back in touch with our sick share of humanity. I’ve learned that I cannot do this on my own, and that help is needed. By sharing with others I was able to understand that although we may not have experienced the same thing, we have experienced similar situations. And being so, I am able to gain insight and help from others, but also, help others as well. And that being the most important part, being able to share my truth and experiences allows me to help others not make the same mistakes, and if I can help one person avoid those mistakes, then that’s a win.

This new path that I now walk, is a path filled with love and compassion, I am now able to forgive and work in service to others, correcting my wrongs and making sure I never hurt or cause any pain and suffering to anyone again. It was through sharing that I was able to heal and become the person I am today.

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