Choice: Prison or Freedom?

"Those who build walls will become prisoners of the walls they put up” - Pope Francis

The pope said this during the recent furor over the US/Mexico border wall.

The walls I want to talk about are the walls we build in our own minds that close us off from others and from opportunity while we somehow live with a false sense of security and peace. We build the walls to protect ourselves from hurt, offence and shame, yet once we remain within them we suffer loneliness, limitations, frustration, even depression and anxiety. It is a paradox: what we intend to keep us safe actually causes us harm.

The trigger to pull out the bricks and mortar and build is often our initial response to a one time significant incident that caused anguish or pain. Any time thereafter, should a similar incident arise, the bricklayer gets busy, aiming to build walls as tall and wide as possible and before we know it the metaphor referred to by the Pope is realized; we now live within the walls of the prison that we put up!

Are you tired of missing out, of being disconnected from others, of forgoing opportunities, of listening to the jailer (yourself) whose job it is to keep you locked up? Here are 3 steps to freedom:

  1. Test your truth: Many people are wrapped up in their story of a pain and/ or shame event. They haven’t thought about questioning their perception of how it unfolded: whether they can remember it factually? Or if they reacted and responded in their own and others best interest? It is uncomfortable to contemplate the possibility that we could be misleading ourselves with the internal dialogue going on in our minds, when in fact, it is the “story according to me”, so why not test it? Ask yourself and, if you can, the other or others what really happened? Be genuinely curious and open to learn from the feedback. It is likely that other perspectives will present themselves, you may be surprised by a refreshing or contrasting twist on events. Questioning yourself and truly listening to others is freeing.

  2. Examine your ego: Are you ruled by needing to be liked? Do you take offence at criticism? Are you consumed by your mistakes and how they are seen in the “court of public opinion”? Have you set your standards so high that even you can’t keep them? Do you judge yourself and others harshly? Do you need to project fault, blaming others for the situation you find yourself in? If you answered yes to any of these questions then challenge yourself. Track back, as far as you can, to understand where your position on the matter comes from. Ask yourself if maintaining the position is important to you, if it makes sense and, is it in your best interest? By so doing you may find yourself using your mental bricks and mortar to lay a path to freedom rather than a prison.

  3. Consider acceptance: Can you accept that your version of events is biased? Can you accept that not everyone will like you and that some will fiercely compete with you? What would it be if you were to forgive yourself or forgive another? Would you accept forgiveness from others? Can you accept the lesson and grow from the experience? Do you accept yourself, flaws and all? It is resistance that spurs us on to build a wall, liberty can be found on the journey of acceptance.

The group Mary Mary, sing “take the shackles off my feet so I can dance, I just want to praise You”! Why not take your shackles off and dance your way to freedom, give yourself a chance for the fulfillment and peace that comes from embracing relationships, exploring opportunities and enjoying the Gift of Life!

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© 2018 Melanie Escalante - Vision and Strategy Coach