What I Learned While I Was In Prison

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Yesterday at 3 p.m. I got out of prison.

While I was there I learned some things about human beings.

I was invited to speak to a group of 50 prisoners at the Federal Correction Institute Englewood who chose to be part of the “Time To   Change” program.

This was the end of a 12-week program where the inmates learned things like: time management, conflict resolution, family relations, motivation, employment and financial stability.  The program is all about teaching the inmates how to usefully use their time inside prison so that they can have a better life when they get out of prison.

I spoke to them about the fact that if they truly want to change their lives and never be inside prison again, they cannot be the same person they were before they entered prison.  That person is the one who got them in prison in the first place.  It is vitally important that they change how they think about themselves and upgrade their self-image.  And, the best time to start making this change is right now.

I got to thinking and realized that you and I share many of the same challenges as these prisoners.

1.  Who we are right now is not the right person to achieve our big goals.  Who we are right now and who we have been is what has gotten us to where we are now.  In order to achieve these goals we will need to change how we think about ourselves and upgrade our self-image.

2.  We are all doing time.  We all have a life sentence.  And, we all have some more time to serve.  The question is: how do we choose to spend that time?  Whether we have decades, years or months left on earth, we get to choose how we are going to spend that time.

Are you merely trying to survive your sentence?  Are you numbly being carried forward by habit and routine?  Or, are you actively exploring your potential, striving to be the best you that you can possibly be?  Or, perhaps you are somewhere in the middle.

3.  We all have areas in our life where we are behind bars.  Our freedom to move forward is blocked.  Instead of forward motion and the desired results and outcomes, we get struggle, frustration, disappointment, and failure.  Life becomes not as fun or enjoyable as it could be.

Even more frustrating is that the only place these bars exist is inside our own heads.  These bars are built from our limiting beliefs, attitudes, expectations, behaviors, thoughts and non-conscious programming.

Nobody wants a life behind bars.  As long as the bars are there we won’t experience the freedom we so desperately desire!

The good news is: these bars are not the truth.  They can be removed and when they are removed we gain freedom.

I invite you to sit down right now and spend a few minutes thinking about the rest of your life sentence.

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • How do you want to spend your time?
  • How do you want to think and feel about yourself?
  • Do you want to survive or do you want to thrive?
  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • What are some of your iron bars?  And, what are you going to do about them?

Intending great joy and success in all you do!

Jonathan Manske

p.s. Here’s my souvenir coffee mug.


photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/stillburning/46446926/”>Still Burning</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>

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