Guilty As Charged

Many people—who have never spent a day behind bars—live in self-imposed prisons where they intend to serve out life sentences. Sometimes that’s because they’ve committed a heinous crime and, although not “found out”, they know what they’ve done and choose lifetime penitence. Some have been imprisoned by the words of others, when they’ve been told that they’re guilty or worthless.

Have you ever convicted yourself—been the judge and jury, and slammed the gavel down yelling, “guilty as charged!”? None of us are perfect, of course, but when we see ourselves only as “less than” or unworthy, we lose sight of the big picture. We’re not just the times we mess up or let down or blow it. We’re the culmination of years of living and loving and being real, but we often forget that, don’t we?

Years ago, someone I love very much lived through a truly awful situation. I got the phone call and was devastated. All I wanted to do was to “be there” for that person, but I was 2800 miles away and I couldn’t get an early flight home. Then, to make it worse, I left my phone where I was staying and that person assumed I was on my way back. Years later, I still replay what I didn’t do right—how I should have been “better” somehow, how I let that beloved person down, how I failed. And, in spite of sincerely apologizing, journaling about, and praying over, I will probably leave this earth with regret about not being there in those moments.

self-imposed, emotional prison

Sometimes we literally put ourselves in solitary confinement, believing that we’re not even worth being in the public population. Where’s self-compassion? How did we become consummate seneschals of “you deserve to be alone, you failed, you’re no good”? If we batter ourselves long enough, we believe that we don’t have value. We become the little child who’s told over and over that she’s “bad” or “awful” or “unlovable” or “unwanted”.

When we’re bombarded by ricocheting words of pain
—or by dismissive, stony silence—
we develop a mindset sullied by those who marginalize us.
Then, our negative self-talk destroys our sense of self-worth.

We have to choose to re-think, re-see, re-imagine and then re-create ourselves. We must let go of what we believe to be true, to become what we can be.

In order to be free from self or other-imposed prisons you need to take the first step to freedom—figuring out your areas of giftedness. You do have them, and even if you’ve been locked away in the box of “not enough” or “failure” or “worthlessness”, you already have the key that can unlock the door. Who you are, right now, is not a rigid, unbendable, unchangeable being. You have choices, and even if your current circumstances are challenging, you can change how you view yourself.

Our prescient spirit knows who we are at the core but, in our humanness, we often dismiss that. Unshackling is not going to be effortless for many of us. I know it’s often not easy for me. There’s a journey in learning how to be okay with being enough, right where we are.


There are times that I have this tape playing in the background that whispers, “no you can’t”, “why do you think you’re worth that?”, “do you not remember when you tried before?” Sometimes my sadness—around what I’ve already failed at—creates in me a desire to anesthetize, then lock the door behind me. What am I afraid of that stops me in my tracks—stops me from completing, working on, or believing in what I started? The answer is: limitations that have been imposed, mostly by myself, and being stuck in the narrow-minded prison of doubt.

I know people who dwell in self-made prisons everyday, convinced that they must live out their remaining years without love or joy—never getting time off for “good behavior”. If you ever get to that place, please stop telling yourself everything you’ve done wrong. Ask this one, simple question, “what have I done right?”  Next, celebrate life, live fully, and free yourself from your pain. See the possibility of awakening a spirit that’s been repressed for too long, and fling the gates wide open. And then, when others see you and say, “wow, you must love your life” you can say, “guilty as charged!”.

©2016 peace full home™/intentional living

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