Time for a prison break

I hate being locked up. It’s time for a prison break.

The stories we tell ourselves, and our mental prisons rob us of the present moment, our happiness, and our potential.

I get tired of hearing the same old stories circulating through my mind and coming from my lips. It can creep up on us, and it’s important we stay aware of our internal and external conversations.

There’s a human tendency to reside inside a prison of old hurts, past mistakes or failures, others’ opinions, and limiting beliefs. We can use them as an excuse to stay small, believing it will keep us safe.

We’re drawn to commiserate about our pains and difficulties, often swapping stories of our wounds with friends. I used to find importance in the things I’d suffered. I even participated in wound-swapping competitions in the old days, with players trying to one-up the others with stories of difficulty.

I used to lead with my stories of wounds; it became part of my identity. Author Caroline Myss calls it Woundology — living life through the lens of our wounds, and having our wounds become our identity.

I understood life through my wounds, and felt drawn to people who understood them as well. They served as a protective barrier no one dare come close to, including myself. This prevented me from healing and truly living my life.

In recalling and re-telling my painful stories, I was reinforcing the neuro-pathways of painful experiences and keeping my body stuck in the stress response of fight-flight-or-freeze. It limited my experience of life and affected my health and happiness.

I had to get a new idea, because I chose not to let my challenges define me; I didn’t want them to remain my identity.

In holding onto the painful stories of the past, I was both the jailed and the jailor. I wanted someone else to hear me, to fix me, and to make it all go away. I didn’t know that I, alone, held the keys to my freedom. The greatest form of freedom is an inside job and it takes courage and mindfulness.

I awakened to realize the past painful events were no longer happening anywhere, except within my own mind. I also neglected to recognize the good qualities I developed because of past adversity.

When I feel the walls of my mental prison closing in, I’m drawn to recall the words of Wayne Dyer, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

I began to wonder, who would I be without these war stories, and how can I see them differently? I started to get curious about the gifts these challenges had offered me.

Do I want to be better or be bitter? Sometimes it takes me a while to arrive at my decision, but in the end, I always want to grow and get better.

So many of my strengths, abilities, and best qualities are a direct result of the challenges life has offered me. I’ve grown mental and emotional muscle, as a direct result of what life has offered me. I’ve grown stronger, more caring and compassionate, and developed skills and abilities I never knew I had.

Crazy as it sounds, I wouldn’t give back any of the challenges I’ve experienced because of what they’ve taught me.

When challenging things happen, it’s important we seek out the support of caring others, but not stay stuck in re-telling and revisiting what happened, over-and-over again. It’s important to hold ourselves in compassion; and it’s compassionate to free ourselves from past pains.

Refusing to let our past hurts define us is a courageous act. It’s empowering to harvest the strengths we’ve developed and move forward in living our best, shiny life.

Are you ready for a prison break?


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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