Let Yourself Out of Prison

The only one keeping you in your prison is yourself. 

If you want to get out, open the door. Don’t wait for someone else to do it, because no one else can let you out of a prison that belongs only to you. It’s incredibly easy to believe someone else has the key, but it’s really just you.

“I can’t take that kind of risk because of my boyfriend/wife/kids.”

“I can’t feel comfortable and confident because they’re making me feel bad.”

“I would, but what would people say?”

I think the real questions and issues here are within ourselves, not other people. Believe me, I’ve been there. You have, too. You’ve been afraid of what other people will think, or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself. What you were really afraid of, though, is what you would think, and you’ve projected these imagined thoughts onto others. 

You’ve blamed your inability to take a leap of faith on the constraints of a family member or loved one, but really, aren’t those constraints imagined, too? Aren’t those fears we’ve created in our minds versus real, actual fears?

You’re tired of other people “making” you feel bad/self-conscious/disappointed in yourself, but are other people “making” you feel that way, or do you just feel that way by yourself?

It is, of course, much easier to believe other people are our captors and not our own selves. Easier because it removes blame from ourselves. Easier because it means we can keep pointing the finger. 

It’s not easier in the long run, though, because we stay imprisoned. 

The question is less “who put me in prison?” and more “do I want to escape?” Because it seems to me most of us say we want out, but don’t actually take any steps to get there. (Because we are waiting on other people to let us out.)

If you want to be set free from others, you must first set yourself free. No one can let you off the hook until you’ve let yourself off first.  

Guilt, pressure, criticism: we almost always feel these are coming from external factors. How frighteningly raw and real to discover they are only coming from within?

I know this is true, because the only real criticisms that hurt us are the ones we believe, or at least could believe, the ones that (in our minds) have the potential to be real. 

If someone says to me, “Your blue hair is ugly,” I’m going to feel no sense of hurt whatsoever, because I don’t have blue hair. This isn’t true. I don’t believe this. 

However, if someone says to me, “That writing was bland,” or “No one would ever buy that art,” I’d be devastated, because I could believe those things. These criticisms would be heartbreakingly painful, because they have the potential to be true, because they have lived in my mind as doubts and haunting questions throughout each laborious creative process. 

And this is how I know I am my own keeper. It is a heavy thought to accept, but once accepted, it actually makes you lighter. 

I, for one, would like to be in control of my prison sentence, wouldn’t you?