Our recent family trip to San Francisco included a return visit to Alcatraz. As I was looking through our vacation pictures after we returned I was struck by the symbolism of the Alcatraz jail cells in relation to our own lives. I think we all spend time in our own prisons, with our own restrictions and our own limitations. We may even live in beautiful houses, drive luxury cars or dress in designer duds, but at times, we exist behind imaginary bars or in a state of inertia. I’ve had enough self-imposed bars to speak from experience so I’m diving into this topic for a few posts.
You are free to chose but you are not free from the consequences of your choices. What a universal paradox. Are your choices creating walls and bars? When you say “yes” to something or someone, do you restrict or prevent yourself from living in the way you really want? When you say “no” are you shying away from a new experience that could unlock a door or create a new pathway? When you choose to obsess on a thought or a person, you essentially create your own prison term. When you keep bad and destructive habits and actions, you definitely open the cell door over and over again. Why do we do this? Thoughts in our minds gain power and take over when we give them attention and if you’re not changing your thoughts or actions, both are still serving you in some capacity. We volunteer for jail time. It starts to become normal and comfortable. Trust me, I understand.
Don’t be the one to disqualify yourself. This is my favorite piece of advice from my father. Do not allow self-limiting thoughts to crowd out your confidence with doubts and make you feel less-than. There are plenty of others that will be happy to do that. Your inner voice needs to be one of your biggest supporters and cheerleaders. Whomever or whatever is speaking to you otherwise needs a one-way ticket to…yes, a jail cell. That voice is not you. It’s a thought. It’s probably a habitual thought. It can’t perform Black Magic on you. Do not give it power. Give it a jail cell and work on rehabilitation!
So, here is your homework. Your thoughts precede your actions, even if you’re on auto pilot and you don’t realize it. Practice true observation of what you’re thinking and how it moves you to act – the consequences. Take a look at this picture from Alcatraz. Visualize it when you realize you’re headed the wrong way and close the cell door before you get there. Visualize the negative thoughts and possible consequences on the other side – securely locked away from you.
Next week, I will share my own personal lock down. My own torment. How I broke free and how I try to stay that way. We all have a story. In fact, please share yours here if you feel comfortable. Peace and blessings.