Thoughts can make us prisoners…….

Some “prisons” have visible, concrete walls, however, in my view it is possible to create “prisons” with our minds. (as in mindsets=our fixed mental attitudes)
We may erect “walls” by deciding “how things are” regardless of whether we have actually investigated if there may be possible solutions/outcomes/methods we have yet to try.
(Example: Wall 1> “It can’t be done.” Wall 2> “I can’t do it.”  Wall 3>”What if I fail, then I will be a failure, and I don’t want to be a failure.” Wall 4>”It’s too scary with too many unknowns.”)
These “invisible” walls are problematic because they are…..invisible to us. For us, “that’s just the way things are”…. until something happens that may challenge those walls of ours.
People often find themselves doing brave things although racked with fear when their lives, or loved ones, or even strangers lives, are in danger. When my son was a basketball mad kid, I took him to be signed up with a team, an hour later I walked away from the sign-up with a clipboard and the title “coach”! My mind was racing: “what???how??? and what happened, what do I know about being a basketball coach???” Because my son loved basketball so much, I decided to learn everything I could about coaching basketball because my love for my son was greater than my fear of failing as a coach.
According to research, more and more of us are seeking help to deal with our social anxiety issues and feelings of loneliness, which to me is quite interesting considering that as a planet, we are more “connected” than ever before. “Fear of rejection” is a common “wall” for those of us suffering with social anxiety, “fear of causing embarrassment to others and/or self” another, a third may be “speaking to a group of people”, and a forth wall may be “a physical manifestation of fear” as in sweating, shaking, becoming tongue tied, speaking at an inappropriate volume, (too soft, too loud) etc.. however, these things can all be avoided when we “speak” through a keyboard.
So, many of us often choose to use the keyboard and doing so, …we avoid putting ourselves in situations that are challenging, and before we know it, or perhaps are even aware of it, we have created our own “prisons” of invisible walls. Most of us probably experience a bit of anxiety when we meet new people, have to speak infront of a group, or face new situations, (I certainly do) but as with most challenges, avoidance often creates problems of its own. “I won’t go to the party, there’s too many people I don’t know”, “I won’t go to the concert, there’s too many people there”, I won’t go to the movies, there’s too many people making noises”, “I won’t ….xxx….because….xxx”. The list of what we “won’t do” slowly increases and what we feel comfortable doing, decreases. Inadvertently, one may say, we have managed to create our own “prisons”.  The opposite of avoidance, is to face, to meet, a challenge, and a helpful beginning point can be to question our thoughts. How am I thinking about this? (whatever the challenge is) Am I overly negative, have I got all the facts, have I dealt with this successfully at other times, are there other more positive ways to view this issue, am I basing my thinking on assumptions, etc.. ? Objectively challenging our thoughts and their validity rather than sticking with “that’s just the way it is”, we have an opportunity to discover new strengths within ourselves: “My thoughts tells me that ……..but do I know this for a fact?  Perhaps even though this is a bit scary, I can still do it?”
Creating “walls” may help us to feel more protected and safe, however, keeping others out prevents us from developing our capacity to deal with challenges, to develop relationships, and to flourish.
Walls protects, but they can also make us prisoners. The walls we create to protect ourselves from being hurt, often makes it hard for us to love, and to be loved.

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