Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Prison of Our Own

“We are imprisoned in the realm of life, like a sailor on his tiny boat, on an infinite ocean.” ~ Anna Freud

The other day I joined a friend for lunch and we discussed a ministry she is involved with at the prison. When we spoke of some of the women there, and agreed that we all share a collective soul beneath the upper crust of different life circumstances, my friend simply said: “After all, aren’t we all imprisoned to some extent?”

Her words gave me food for thought. Although many of us will thankfully never know the hardship of being physically confined, being imprisoned within the invisible walls of our own weaknesses can be just as daunting.

None of us are ever completely free. We are limited by societal rules, by financial constraints, by faulty perceptions, and by the fears and doubts that often impact our lives. One of our downfalls is that we think too much – although rational thinking is appropriate for some situations, too much of a good thing is not always beneficial.

We tend to second-guess ourselves even when we have taken good decisions, and rarely realize that in some instances “being” is better than thinking. We function through the perceptions of others, and unless we can adhere to an “acceptable” standard of living, we fail in our own minds. It is so easy to get wrapped up into the illusion of right and wrong that we often forget to check with our inner guide to decide if we are on the right path or if we need to change our course of action.

Some are even imprisoned by the image they have forged for themselves, and truly struggle to detach from it, in fear of losing their whole identity. I could be listing a whole lot of things – some organized religions, appearances, lifestyles, poverty, health issues, past pain and political affiliations can also pose limits to the expression of our inner selves, but we are scared let them go in fear of losing control over their circumstances.

It makes little difference if the bars are made of sturdy metal or limiting thoughts – until we realize we hold the key, our lives will never experience the warm sunshine filtering through the windows of our soul.

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