Why Do We Build Our Own Jails?

JKLTip What barriers are you putting up to keep yourself trapped?
Our Own Jails, Learning

It’s kind of weird if you think about it. When we want to accomplish something we often prevent ourselves from doing it. We create our own barriers, we build our own jails. Originally stemming from old English and French as “Gaole”, jail means confinement.

When we feel stuck in life, or can’t find our path, it is so often because we create this tiny, confining box of limited possibilities. Our jails trick us by seeming positive. They keep us safe by limiting our options. But, the only way to escape feeling stuck in life is to expand and explore our options. So we’re in quite the little pickle.

How do we build our own jails? The simple answer is to think of any excuse your mind tries to give you for going after a goal. Here are some classic examples. Knowledge (I don’t know how), time (I need more hours in the day), money (I’m broke), other people (I have kids), work (I hate my job), support (my family doubts me) and the list is endless. But, every example is simply an excuse that could be reframed. 

It’s Just A Bunch Of Stories

We build our jails on these false, fabricated stories we tell ourselves. If you look at every example, every excuse, it is easy to find the opposite result of the circumstance. Here is an example of the possibilities. Knowledge (I’m excited to learn), time (Having five priorities is fun), money (there is abundance in the world), other people (my kids will be changed for the better), work (I’m grateful to have employment, even if I’m working toward the next step), support (as painful as it is, I know they just can’t see it) and similarly the list goes on and on.

When my kids come to me as teens and say they have a dream they want to go after, there is only one possible response I want to be able to give them. I want to be able to say “go for it, just like I did”. With young children, I already find myself protecting their ability to dream big. I’m already having to prevent them from building the “realistic” jail in their own heads.

What Can We Do?

In order to figure out how to escape our own jails, we can take a couple specific steps. It starts with getting off of autopilot and paying attention to our thoughts. What we say is what we believe and vice versa. This way, we can come at it from two angles, words, and beliefs.

Work on your limiting beliefs by allowing yourself to dream the craziest things possible. The awesome thing is that this takes “no skill”. It’s simply letting our minds wander, letting it happen. For example, envision the dream job, vacation, or life and just see what comes to mind.

Second, pay attention to the things you say. Whether in your head or out loud, what we say has a huge impact on our determination. Reframe what you say to a place of gratitude. Add a sprinkle of love, less whining, and no complaining. Change things like I’m so broke to I’m grateful for my health and pretty damn excited to be rich someday. 

Finally, if you had to choose action or dreams, choose action. The dream stuff will develop over time, whether you like it or not. However, without action, you will gain zero momentum. So, set your sights on the current dream, lay a crystal clear plan to get there and take action. As you follow your path, be ready and open to other possibilities along the way.

Read: Why Just Keep Learning?
Watch: JKL 200 Trailer
Guest Post: 8 Billion People Project


Mental Health, vision

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