Release from emotional prison - everyone’s challenge!
I’m sure it seems strange that one who has never been in a “real” prison should be pontificating to those who are incarcerated! However, those on the “inside” and “outside” have more in common that one might imagine. And what works to bring peace to one applies to all, no matter the seeming difference in outer circumstances. Some thoughts to ponder:
1. Feeling trapped, imprisoned, blocked, and without options is, amazingly, an inside job - a feeling that is caused by closing down, defending, resisting, and judging. Now these psychological defenses are used by everyone, no matter where they are. So many people use these words to describe how they feel and I assure them that indeed they are accurate, but that those dismal feelings are not caused by outside events, circumstances, people or situations, although we’ve always assumed that, but actually by an internal process. What great news! That means that we have the option to change and feel better no matter the external circumstances.
2. So how does all this work? The abbreviated version is that our emotions and feelings - those inner experiences that really disturb and annoy us - are caused this way: That endless train of thoughts we indulge in, thinking they don’t matter very much, sends a constant stream of information to the brain. The nature of those thoughts - either hateful, small, fearful, vengeful, or grateful, loving, open-hearted and accepting - tells the brain what kinds of chemicals to create to add to the sum total of the body chemistry. So body chemistry, about which a person is solely in charge, is the gateway. Those chemicals, ordered up through thinking, are taken up via receptors into each of our 60 trillion cells and the chemicals in the cells cause our emotional state, and thus, how we feel. Notice this is the same process whether you live in jail or a mansion. This is the reason why people who seem to be free and have everything can be miserable and feel terribly trapped, depressed. And those who have very little can be deeply content and happy.
3. So great news! If beliefs/thoughts are the real culprits, out of which emotions/feelings, behaviors, and circumstances grow, that’s marvelous since they can all change. We are each in charge of how we choose to think. Anyone, anywhere CAN CHANGE the focus of attention and have a very different experience, regardless of where one physically happens to be. This fabulous news is a life saver! When attention is given to more loving and accepting thoughts, the frequency of our energy fields is raised and life just feels better and better. So this upward spiral can begin: decide to engage with more loving thoughts, emotions become more stable and calm, life feels more supportive, gratitude increases, and before you know it, a very different life can be experienced. And no one gets to make these life-saving decisions but our very own selves.
4. Outer life is a mirror of inner thought. This is of crucial importance! The way we have made ourselves feel, through those thoughts and beliefs, then translates into our daily outer experience. If you think ill of yourself, put yourself down, judge yourself, or generally attack yourself, others will, indeed, treat you dismissively and unkindly. If you decide to be your own best friend, are gentle with yourself about your mistakes (and we all have made endless mistakes) and declare your innate right to a good life, that you’re actually a deserving person after all, and so is everyone else around you, you will be amazed at the changes that occur. Changes that you never dreamed would occur, will. Not because you are clever or a great manipulator but because outer life always mirrors inner attitude.
When you stand in front of a mirror, if you don’t like what color shirt you have on, would it occur to you to threaten the image, or pray that it be different, or attempt to manipulate it away? You can try and that shirt will just stand there and look back at you. You cannot demand the image change first. However, when you decide to change your shirt, does the image ever remain the same? Never, ever. It always reflects your change of clothing. In exactly the same way, your outer life circumstances will somehow change and reflect your inner change of attitude. And often in ways we would never imagine possible.
5. You might say, “I don’t like anything about being in prison and this can’t possibly work.” Oh, yes it can. Remember, what you decide to be kind to, to appreciate, and feel openhearted about doesn’t matter. It’s the process of being kind that matters - to a fly on the wall, about family members you remember, about life in general, to guards and fellow inmates. It’s the process of accepting and not what you accept; it’s the process of being openhearted that raises that frequency, healing your mind and body and freeing your very soul.
Remember, jailers are imprisoned along with inmates in two ways. They have to physically be there right along with inmates. And if their inclination is to be harmful or unkind it will, without a doubt, come full circle and take its toll on them. There is a universal law that never fails: what you offer or give to others - not just things or money, but the intangibles of treatment, words, looks, and more, always becomes your experience. So those who would imprison will feel imprisoned, either physically or psychologically. Those who are generous with their fellow travelers on this planet will flourish.
6. Steps to get out of mental/emotional prison:
Since no one rules your mind but you, decide that it’s in your own best interests to see things differently. So how about an experiment?
a) Ask yourself: What might be positive about time by yourself/ in isolation. There are many people who go to lots of trouble to be undistracted, isolated, and alone so their minds can become quiet. Could there possibly be anything to be grateful for? If you can make a list of those things, even a small one, and focus your attention on contemplating that, you’ll make progress and feel more at peace.
b) Since what you offer to others you experience, try being thoughtful or nonjudgmental about one of those “imprisoned” guards or fellow inmates and see what happens. No harm in trying it out.
These important processes of being caring of self and others - focusing on the fact that if you’re alive you’re deserving and valuable - can and must be employed any time and anywhere, in or out of a certain kind of building, and under more and more circumstances in order to feel happy and safe. So - be the antidote to cruelty, be the antidote to harshness and uncaring wherever you are. Decide to change your attitude, reach out more and more with love rather than fear and the entire universe will be there at your side to encourage, to love you, and to offer you peace and freedom where it counts - inside your own heart and mind!
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