I am acquainted with a number of prisoners. Not in the sense that they are serving time in an actual correctional facility. More in the sense that they know what they are capable of and, because of that, they know anyone could be capable of it and so they live their lives in constant fear and apprehension, questioning the motives of others because they cannot trust their own.
One such acquaintance was constantly accusing his wife of having an affair. He had engaged in several himself. In his mind, if he could stoop to such behavior, why wouldn’t she? Sadly, their marriage soon ended.
How much better it would have been if he had considered the consequences first and not gone through with the actions. Barring that, if he could have admitted to himself that what he did was wrong, he could have forsaken his bad choices and confessed them to his wife, allowing her to make an informed decision.
This man continues to question the women he dates. His actions will likely haunt him and have a profound effect on every future relationship.
The alternative to this sort of tortuous life is one in which we weigh the consequences of potential actions prior to making a decision whether to follow through with them.
Another form of imprisonment comes from lying about simple mistakes we might have made. They can be completely innocent and not at all malicious or premeditated. For instance, messing up a task at work. I can remember an assignment in which I was put in charge. I was distracted with something else and neglected to relay a very important message to someone. When I realized what I had done, I walked into my supervisor’s office and said, “I really messed up. I did not make that critical phone call to Dr. ___ and now the whole meeting schedule must be redone.” I was chastised and could have loss my job due to negligence. Luckily, I didn’t. The key thing was that I was able to let it go and have a pleasant evening with my family, knowing that I had been honest with my supervisor.
I remember a foster daughter. When she was confronted on a miniscule mistake, she would weave this tapestry of lies to cover up something she truthfully would never have gotten in trouble over. Because she broke the trust by lying, she did not enjoy some of the freedoms of other children.
The way to personal imprisonment:
Engage in inappropriate behavior and say, “It just happened. I didn’t plan it.”
When asked, deny or make excuses.
Begin to question your own motives.
Question the motives and actions of those around you.
The way to personal freedom:
Think about the impact of your actions before you jump into them.
Don’t wait to be asked, come clean and be honest.
Know that you are in charge of yourself and the decisions you make.
Believe that because you have integrity others might, as well.
Though being forthcoming about your mistakes may cost you relationships, jobs, friends, and possessions, you will not have to lug around the burden of doubt about yourself or those you love.