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How I escaped my mental prison

We are all already holding the key to what keeps us locked in

I was released from my prison exactly nineteen months ago, fairly recently considering I had been there since 2004. Thirteen years ago, I got stuck. One moment recounted again and again by the one narrator who has the ability to influence my entire perspective…me.

How did I become free from my entrapment? I learnt how my universe works. No, I didn’t delve into the sciences or religion. I simply got taught that everything is as it is meant to be, right now, and it always has been.

My parents dissolved their marriage in 2004 and I was the victim.

I spent thirteen years of my twenty-seven, feeling limited and disadvantaged by their choice. Spending so much time in the past, choosing to do regret and sorrow and any time that I wasn’t in the past, I was in the future, choosing to do anxiety.

When we dwell in the past, we charge our regretful memories and experiences, instilling them in our behaviour so that they can find ways to make themselves apparent in our actions today. When we live in the future, naturally predispositioned to being negative, we create anxiety, telling ourselves make-believe stories with sad endings that we go on to believe will come true.

Recounted again and again, by the one narrator who has the ability to influence your entire perspective…you.

We are all guilty of this, so guilty that we sentence ourselves to being victims of other people’s actions, victims of circumstances that we deem unfavourable and even of our own choices made when we didn’t have all the information we required.

Nineteen months ago, I started to learn how to get present and I started my journey to freedom.

Yes, that simple. Instead of spending my energy on the past and feeling regret or the future and feeling anxious, both leading me to be a circumstantial victim, I instead lived in the present.

By doing this I started to notice, had my parents not made their decision, I wouldn’t have applied to Stellenbosch University. I wouldn’t have connected with the people that I have spent years connecting with, forcing me to grow and to understand. I wouldn’t have the career I have today. I could carry on like this until I have named every element of my life describing where I am today, happy and utter in love with everything I surround myself with.

I often get teased that I have so many favourite things and I really do. This is because I have constructed my life by actions of my choice. I don’t feel victimised by other people’s choices or anxious about my future. Instead, I am present enough to make the decisions required to ensure that I am happy and growing every day.

Everything is as it is meant to be, it always has been.

That doesn’t mean it is always going to be smooth sailing or the reason for an experience is going to make itself known soon after the pain has been felt, rest assured though, you will grow from it and not be kept stuck by it, if you stay present.

Now, take a slow deep breath. Consider where you are and how you came to being here.

Your Present.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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