The hands that grip the cold steel of the prison bars have been holding on for so long that her fingers have become stiff and sore. She wonders if she will ever be able to let go, peeling them away as the visitors to her dark and dreary cell have urged her to do an infinite number of times. Decades ago, she walked into self imposed incarceration, after she became judge, jury and prosecuting attorney all in one. The door clanked behind her the day she entered the structure that she had built, brick by brick in her mind, with her self deprecating thoughts about choices she had made in a relationhship that impacted on her and her now adult child. For so long, she believed she could never compensate for remaining in an unhealthy situation when she had the resources and supports that could have enabled her to leave.
Even though her son states that he has forgiven the other person involved, she has found it difficult to do so and even more, to forgive herself. She has allowed this self-perpetuated harsh punishment to impact on her life in ways that are only now becoming clear.
She shares, “I have used it against myself as a reason not to be in another relationship, long after the other one ended.” Recently, she spoke with someone about how he forgave himself for things he couldn’t change that kept him shackled. His response, as someone who is spiritual, but not religious, was that he intitially needed to acknowlege whatever occurred, “Give it up to God and make amends as best I can.” He came to recognize that it did him no good to continue to flagellate himself over what he couldn’t change. The woman knew all of this cognitively, but her emotions had yet to catch up. She held on to the irrational belief that if only she was regretful enough, it would somehow resolve. It is like a cat perpetually chasing its tail. Perhaps entertaining for a bit, but ultimately exhausting and futile.
Does this sound familiar?
Consider ways in which you may have yourself imprisoned with no hope of parole.
- Ill advised financial choices
- Repeated relationship patterns (‘same’ partner in different bodies)
- Addictive behaviors
- Unhealthy eating
- Anger run amok
- Indulging in drama to maintain familiar chaos
- Denial of problems
- Putting oneself in high risk circumstances
- Self sabotaging choices
A Critiholic Speaks
Scott Kalechstein Grace is a singer songwriter whose work has spanned several decades. He has been referred to as a ‘spriritual Weird Al Yankovich’ who pens song parodies in that same style. He is also a man in recovery from addiction. He expresses one of the most insidious self damaging addictions as ‘critiholism,’ by which he and many attempt to keep themselves in line, when they feel like they are straying too far afield. It reflects the paradoxical poster that commands, “The beatings will continue until moral improves around here.”
What standards do you hold yourself to, that may be a direct route to internal imprisonment?
A professional woman shares that, “I tell myself I should know better, because of my education. I have become adept at presenting as confident and competent, when at times, I am fearful of being found out that I really don’t have it all together.”
She laughs when she knows that her friends are on to her, as they have told her. Relieved that she no longer needed to bear that burden, she is more mindful of when she is about to break her own laws.
A downward spiral of self doubt is common when life events lead to what may seem like failure. Even if you knew that you didn’t directly cause an event to occur, such as a car accident, or someone else choosing to pick up their substance of choice following a period of abstinence, second guessing is not unusual
In an article published on this site in May of 2016, entitled “If This, Then That Thinking,” an idea was presented that thoughts could be like the children’s toy Barrel of Monkeys. Recall if you will, that the aim of the game is to pick up a chain of the silly simians with the tail of one hooked to the arm of another. Sometimes it is simple to get one at a time and at others, a whole clump of them jump on board. When we have monkey mind thoughts, particularly negative ones, that clammer for our attention, the sound can be deafening. While we may not be able to loosen the extra monkeys without breaking the chain, we can learn to carry them gracefully.
Hawaiian Healing: Ho’oponopono
This ancient method of releasing resentments, offering and receiving forgiviness and reconciling differences has four steps.
- I’m sorry
- Please forgive me
- I love you
- Thank you
They can be said aloud or in the stillness of your mind. They can be written or expressed directly to anyone with whom you feel at odds, including yourself. In an inspiring story told by author and motivational speaker, Joe Vitale, the power of this simple technique is evident. The tale of Hew Len, MD, who was a psychiatrist employed in a inpatient hospital in Hawaii whose application of the modality, resulted in release of forensic patients whose conditions improved dramatically, bears striking resemblance to the subject at hand here. Perhaps the repetition of those four lines as he reviewed their charts, helped to free them from the imprisonment of their own thoughts.
What will it take for you to accept a Get Out Of Jail Free Card? There is one with your name on it.