When visualizing imprisonment, what are the thoughts that come to mind? Is it a criminal wearing an orange suit behind bars who is instructed when to drink, eat and sleep? Or do you imagine a prisoner in a cell on their bunk anticipating a letter from their family? Yes, all this may be true. But, solitary confinement is far beyond physical restraint. It is imperative that you analysis the mental effects of being denied a variety of freedom. It is the mental state of an inmate that will determine if he or she will be a product of recidivism. According to a research study entitled, The Psychological Impact of Incarceration: Implications for Post Prison Adjustment, “The adaption of imprisonment is almost always difficult and, at times, creates habits of thinking and acting that can be dysfunctional in periods of post adjustment.”
The psychological effects of incarceration vary from individual to individual. Imprisonment, which is the physical bondage, can be detrimental, but it is the institutionalization is where destruction begins to internalize. This is the process in which individuality is striped away from a human being, and intimates are shaped and transformed by the institutional environment. It is each and every prisoner decision to not let their circumstance determine their being. “Lucinda Cross, do not let your environment shape who you are,” were the words of wisdom repetitively stated by my mother. These words served as key that locked the door of worries, anxiety and fear, simultaneously unlocking the door of love, encouragement, and determination.
I took on full responsibility of my crime, and served my sentence. I jumped into the driver seat of my life and decided that I was not going to be the passenger of my destiny. Although finding my power in prison was rather difficult, I followed three steps to discover and enhance my power.
Step 1: Be Real, Power Stems From Authenticity
In order to find your power, you have to admit to your truths. You owe it to yourself to get to know you. Familiarize yourself and discover your strengths and weakness and then own it. If you don’t like what you see, then change it.
I decided to own up to whom I was, a person who made a mistake. Once I forgave myself, I decided to act, talk and think differently.
Step 2: Judge No More: Power Is Weakened Through Judgment
Words are a mighty conductor of power. I noticed that the casual trash talking and put-downs I used against others and myself weakened my energy. It does not serve a great purpose; therefore I had to stop the negativity and release judgment tendencies. This gave me more time to refocus on myself and strengthen my character.
Step 3: Decide to Shine
So, I decided it was my responsibility to shine regardless of where I woke up every morning. I wasn’t just a number or statistic. I was person with talent and gifts, and I wanted to share them.
By sharing my gifts and uplifting others, I felt my power illuminate my inner strength. It made me feel an enormous connection to my purpose. I used the transferable concept and it literally transformed the way I thought about my circumstance. With time and work, I retrieved my power. I owned it.
Remember to own your power.