Journal Entry: Monday, January 8, 2024

Journal Entry

The Power of a Positive Mindset: Overcoming Incarceration’s Mental Challenges

Navigating the mental challenges of incarceration requires resilience and adaptability. In my book, Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Prison Term, I described the strategies that worked for me. I remember one example of a changed situation in prison that really troubled me.

Early in my sentence, I got a job in one of the prison’s offices. My supervisor, Ms. Stephens, supported my efforts to earn a university degree. She authorized me access to a word processor. With her permission, I could become more efficient at completing my schoolwork. Because of her support, I accelerated my progress in school, which led to my earning two degrees. I also learned more about technology.

When the prison promoted Ms. Stephens, I got a new supervisor who revoked the privilege I’d taken for granted. Without access to the writing tool, I felt a new mental hurdle. I felt the system would continue to take things away from me. Those losses made me feel like a prisoner.

To overcome such challenges, I learned that I would have to live in the world as it existed rather than as I wanted it to be. At any time, the environment could change. I could lose privileges. I would have to develop strategies to get through those challenges. That’s what led to the multi-part approach to coping with crisis:

Define success as the best possible outcome, given the current predicament.
Create a plan.
Put priorities in place.
Adjust as necessary, but hold myself accountable.
Execute the plan every day.

Our course, “Preparing for Success after Prison,” empowers individuals to develop their own coping strategies. Participants can deepen their learning by emailing with “Request a Book” in the subject line to receive resources like “Earning Freedom,” “Success after Prison,” and others.

To foster personal growth, I challenge you to identify one aspect of your current environment that you can positively influence. How can you turn a limitation into an opportunity for development? This exercise is not just about adapting to your circumstances but thriving within them, using your inner strength and resilience.