Part 2 – The prison in your mind: What happens once free?

Written by Martine Cloutier-LeBlanc

Founder and CEO of CAPTIVATE MY DAY, loving life to its fullest

November 21, 2021

According to National Institute of Justice “Recidivism is one of the most fundamental concepts in criminal justice. It refers to a person’s relapse into a criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime.”

Many of us seen the same movie scene where inmates are released from prison, garbage bag in hands, and less than 20 dollars in their pockets. Then, another unforgettable sound, the prison’s gates closing as they exit a life they want to leave behind. However this time, a grin is seen as they vow to never return there again.

Similar to inmates, people vow to change their behaviors.

They vow they’ll do better.

They vow to lose weight.

They vow to work less hours.

They vow to spend more time at home.

They vow to take care of themselves.

They vow, and vow, and vow. Still, many of their vows are left unanswered as they quickly return to their old habits. Habits that have often been ingrained for months, years, and even decades.

Those individuals are “technically” out of their mind’s prison yet emotionally and psychologically still connected to whatever behavior that has lead them in in the first place.

Walking back in: 3 unavoidable traps

Trap #1: Overwhelmed

You may be happy to be free and walk around smiling, but you soon realize that “freeness” feeling is gradually going away. You’re overwhelmed. You never really thought of what comes after leaving the prison in your mind.

How could you?

You’ve never experienced this before. You never really had the opportunity to address such changes with your family or friends. In truth, most of the time, you either did not even know you were your own prisoner and if you knew, you did not necessarily knew how to free yourself.

You’ve seen yourself fail so many times that you’ve become accustomed to its outcome — feeling disconnected and apologetic for every vow that you break and for every mistake that you make.

How could you not feel as such you often tell yourself.

Trap #2: Fear

You’ve been living in fear for so long, you don’t even know what it is like to not be fearful. You are oblivious to the fact that part of your fears have been self-imposed. You believe others played a bigger role in developing certain fears yet never made real commitments in wanting to change because you’ve been too consumed with fear of not being able to change.

In your mind, you attempted so many times yet nothing ever stick. It’s way too hard to change you often think. You may even believe it’s better for you to remain one foot in and one foot out of your mind prison because at least, you don’t have to deal with all the consequences and unforeseen changes.

Trap #3: Not trusting yourself

You’ve spent years caring and attending to others yet without even questioning where YOU fit in, what YOU like or dislike, or what YOU can do for yourself to be in a better place. You did not ask these questions because you never felt you could. You often felt as if others had all the answers. Others were more qualified and knowledgeable. In your mind, you were only there to help not to really get involved.

Because after all, how could you dare to trust yourself?

So you kept to yourself, hiding and hoping one day, you may find or have the courage to say or do something that actually reflect what YOU want or who YOU are. Yet that day never came and if, at one point, it did and you seen glimpses of what could be, you retrieved yourself and acted as if that day had never ever happened.

Are these traps truly unavoidable?

These traps are unavoidable and here’s WHY:

Reason #1: They are part of your prison’s life

These traps are parts of the foundation of the prison in your mind. Your prison could have not hold up for that long if it wasn’t for these traps. Now, it does not mean you’re not able to work through these traps. It only means you have to be aware and knowledgeable of their existence if you want to be able to gradually work through them.

Reason #2: We are not taught to identify these traps

Because these traps are parts of the foundation of the prison in your mind, they have been put in place at an early age. They are the images you’ve seen, the words you’ve heard, the actions you’ve imitated, the thoughts you’ve developed. They are consciously or unconsciously put into your psyche and livelihood. And little that you know, they get bigger if you’re unable to attend to them early on.

Are you doomed to live a life of constant disappointment and failures?

No you’re not and here’s WHY:

Because #1: You can learn

The amazing thing with human beings is that we have the ability to learn. We can choose to learn about ourselves, about our environment, about our circumstances, and about others. We don’t have to ACCEPT our situations because we CAN change our situations, or at least, we can CHANGE our attitude toward our situations.

Because #2: You want to grow

Growth is something we can all achieve. When we see something we do not like about ourselves, our behaviors, and/or the way we think; we can choose to grow from it and find other avenues, other roads to our destination. We can give ourselves the opportunity to see further, to test things out, and to live a life that is worth living.

Because #3: You can help others

The beauty with learning about the prison in your mind and allowing yourself to grow from your experiences is that you can use it all to help and teach others. You can be there for them and be attentive to what they are experiencing. You can choose to give them your hand so they don’t have to remain in these unavoidable traps for long.

I will conclude with this, whether you are walking freely at the moment or you’re still feeling as if you have never left the prison in your mind, you have what it takes to work through it. It is not to say it will be an easy ride, but I can honestly say, it is going to be a ride to remember. A ride that will bring you tears. And whether those tears are tears of sadness, satisfaction, or happiness; they are tears that represent your adventures, your choices, but most of all, those tears are representative of your LIFE. Take care of those tears.

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