We all encounter life’s most arduous circumstances from different vantage points and with varying levels of support to help us through them. We also are deferentially equipped to cope with and overcome such trials with a renewed sense of perspective on life. But in my own experience, and in what I witness in others in this circumstance almost on a daily basis, is a common thread of human might and a defiant will to turn one’s gravest misfortune into a profound sense of purpose and triumph.
In the beginning of any remarkable loss is immense grief and a sense of chaos and helplessness. But as humans we have the uncanny ability to adapt to even the most extreme adversity. We notice that as we begin to accept what is and turn our attention to how we can get the most out of the situation before us, we are greeted with strength we didn’t even know we possessed. Our sense of helplessness metamorphoses into an invigorated sense of empowerment and control over our destiny.
In my experience, the most distinguishing characteristic that separates those who thrive in times of immense adversity (such as prison) and those who succumb to their plight is belief. Belief in oneself and the ability to overcome is the essential ingredient to success that comes out of otherwise tragic situations. The biggest hurdle for those incarcerated, however, is having enough positive people in their corner to counter the pervasive negativity that surrounds them. It seems for every one person who speaks encouragement, there are ten who project the opposite. But belief is cultivated, not inherent. It is built over time and through trials; it is not instantaneous. But when it takes root and begins to drive our thoughts, actions, behavior and habits, then our character and destiny become much more defined and sustainable.
Many of us in prison have lived our lives doing the opposite of what society, our parents, and communities would have liked for us to do. As a result, we have been labeled as “bad,” “criminal,” and “no good.” When we internalized these beliefs, our behavior quickly followed suit because, well, if everyone says these things about us, we reasoned, they must be true! Now we find ourselves in this dreaded situation and we are again told on a daily basis by staff in the prisons and even family members that we are still these same labels, that we’ll never amount to anything–even if we tried! We again believe these things and subsequently release from prison only to return within a year or two (or less) because we believe we can never change, we can never be anything but bad and no good. Statistics show this to be true.
Those leaving prison face discrimination at every turn: employment, housing, insurance, etc. We are more likely to return to prison than someone who has never been to prison. In other words, as the old saying goes, the odds are stacked against us. For many, this is intimidating enough to throw in the towel and resign themselves to this falsehood that no matter how hard they try, things will never change for them. Well, many have in fact defied those odds!
Defying these daunting odds starts with a mindset, a mentality rooted in non-negotiable self-determination and perseverance. I’ve found prison to be a great place to transform one’s life because of the lack of distraction (drugs, alcohol, harmful places and people, etc.) and time to self reflect. It certainly gives one reason enough to examine their life’s decisions and contemplate what they could have done differently in many instances to bring about more desirable outcomes. And with the support of wonderful, loving people like you, how can one NOT succeed?! Defying the odds is not easy, but then again what is?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Martin Lockett
Martin Lockett is serving a 17 1/2 year sentence for a tragic car accident. Martin has substantially turned his life around by completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, published his first book and is currently working on his Masters in Psychology. Martin plans to counsel at risk youth when he is released. He hopes his insight, thoughts and experiences from prison will help those who have a loved one incarcerated or someone facing prison time.
To read more about Martin, CLICK HERE
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