7 Ways to Escape Your Own Mental Prison

Have you ever lost your zeal for life---you lost interest in the things you used to love to do? Your passions, hobbies and whatever it was that made you feel alive was no longer a priority---just a stagnant feeling of loss of one's self. Things like grief and depression of any sort can tear away our will to keep doing our best. It happened to me when I lost my parents. I lost my laugh, I lost my desire to write music, play guitar, and I even lost some friends along the way due to my disinterest in life. They had nothing in common with me anymore. I remember a friend wanted to take me to this beautiful resort in Mexico to go parasailing and relax in our own private pool. My heart said yes, but my spirit was too numb to even catch on how emotionally and spiritually healing this would've been for me. I stopped having parties, I stopped visiting my friends...I stopped socializing as I once used to.

So here's my list of how I became free from my own mental prison:

Put Down The Self-Medication

I lost myself. I drank to get away from myself, but I couldn't get away from myself the next morning. Numbing my emotions only led to pent up tears and anguish that eventually exploded mostly at inopportune moments. It took four long years to realize I needed to sober up and better my health---not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I made some huge changes that led me to the life I live today. It may not be parasailing in the deep blue oceans or going white water rafting, but I did surprise myself nonetheless. The more days into my sobriety, I found that my ideas of "outdoorsy" wasn't just sitting on the patio with a glass of wine anymore. I started walking outside more to get exercise. I would mark my one mile, eventually led to two miles...(baby steps!) I purchased a treadmill so that I could feel better, move better, and feel stronger. 

Years ago, I used to go fishing with my dad. I had the urge for a long time, and I finally did it over in a lagoon in a kayak. Mind you---kayaking alone was a big fear of mine. I also went crabbing on the bay and cooked my own catch. I know this may not be "huge" events for some---but for me, it was a feat. 

Stop Caring What People Think of You

What other people think of you is none of your business. Think about it, we cannot control how others perceive us, or what other people say about us. I have a rule that I will never listen to someone's slander about another person, until I meet that person and can judge for myself. If I am a weak person, I will listen to them and take it as truth. Not to say that their experiences aren't real, but that isn't my story. I eliminated controlling and emotionally abusive friends in my life. With complete forgiveness and with good intentions, I had to let these toxic people go. At the time of the friendship, I felt like they were controlling me---controlling who I talk to, and making me do their dirty work for them. It wasn't a friendship so much as it was an access to get something from me. If they're not friends, do not let them onto your private social media. I call these people "monitors"---not friends. Don't feel guilty for this. If you aren't being treated as you treat them, then maybe it's time to sever ties. But one thing to ultimately free yourself from these chains is to always forgive people---even if they're too scared to apologize. You do not need an apology in order to forgive. I do believe that our higher selves connect on the spiritual realm, and forgiveness is received there. That's why prayer is so powerful. When you pray for someone---believe in its power.

Free Yourself From Mind Numbing Self-Medicating

That's a really hard one if you're used to coming home after a long day and you just wanna swig a few sips or take a few tokes to take the edge off. Depending on moderation and dependency---you might be one of the rare ones who can actually do this on a daily basis. For me? I wasn't a functional when I self-medicated. It stifled my true emotions, which would ultimately come out one day. Through my sobriety, I managed my demons by facing them head-on, feeling every pain of every painful memory and tackling them in a more manageable way. I prayed, I meditated, I relied on extra support to get me through. And now, almost three years into my sobriety, I still feel the pain of the loss, but it's different. It's manageable, it's now a feeling of gratitude that I had 43 years that I spent with my parents. 

Find Your Niche 

Everyone has a unique ability or talent to do something they absolutely love. For me, cooking was one of my biggest passions. I learned how to cook when I was just 13 years old working in a Chinese restaurant. Then, my mom would let me watch her cook her recipes, and when my dad retired, he was glued to the Food Network and started throwing down like a chef! He was always a great cook, but he stepped it up and made these gourmet dishes that were out of this world. I started cooking more, and with my knowledge of editing film, I then began to share my food videos and recipes with the world. But my first and foremost reason for cooking is to bring family and friends together. As you know, another passion of mine is reading and writing. I love literature and reading new books. I also like to share all that I have learned. I love my rescue dog, and plan to rescue another. I have so many things I want to do, but sometimes it's difficult to find people to do these things with.

When I stopped all of these passions, I had nothing in common with anyone. I couldn't ask a friend to go walking with me, or have dinner parties at each other's homes, or even talk to them about anything because my mind was so numb from the self-medicating. Now looking back, I'm finding that if the commonality is lacking with friendships, it's like pulling teeth just to maintain a decent conversation with them. It's not that I don't love them dearly, but it's all on a surface level. If you don't have a niche in life, I get bored real fast. And it doesn't have to be "my" niche---just something that motivates you to get out of bed each morning.

Exposure Therapy

Through my awesome recovery program, I've learned how important it is to drive in my car and meet them, instead of just relying on Zoom meetings. After the pandemic/lockdowns, many people found that their worlds had become much smaller, to no fault of their own. I have a wonderful therapist who makes me drive to her office that's almost 40 minutes away. I started getting a fear of driving far distances, because my eyesight had some challenging issues (important reason of course)--but now that it has gotten better, I am branching out and trying to move out of my comfort zone. Being uncomfortable in life will actually increase your comfortability doing scary stuff. My sister always says, "If you're not scared to do it, then it's not worth it." Fear can be a healthy motivator to do something you've always wanted to do. Although I do love the "comfort" of working from home, I also want to venture out into the world more. Puerto Rico is on our next to-do list. If you have a fear of anything---face it head-on, even if you bring a crutch (like a safe person or whatever items make you feel safer.) I don't want to be 70 years old regretting the fact I didn't do something that was on my bucket list...and yes, I have a bucket list. 

Being Open-Minded, Yet Mindful and Prayerful

I guess you can say that the Christian faith can be a little rigid here and there. With that being said, I was starting to listen to other Christian friends warn me about things like yoga, and people of other religions--(more so Wiccans)---and I started to realize a few things. Jesus didn't just associate with His followers, He was among all walks of life. I guarded myself against people who practiced these faiths. If my faith was so strong, why would I need to feel intimidated by anyone of another practice? I will say this: my friends who are Wiccan have treated me much better than some of my Christian friends. I'm not saying I'm going to brew my next soup recipe in a caldron anytime soon, but who am I to judge? I do have boundaries when it comes to psychic mediums though. When I do pray, I sometimes can hear my mom's voice come through. I've always had an intuitive talent to see and hear things beyond. In the Bible, when this sort of thing happens, it does say to "test the spirits." So it's nothing at all like necromancy. Last week, my mom told me to tell my spouse that Joan said hello. I said, "Who's Joan?" When I asked later on that night, they broke down and cried, asking me how I knew. So, I am being more open-minded, yet mindful and prayerful, if that makes any sense.

You Don't Always Have to be Left or Right

Why do some people who are conservative only believe "this and that" while those who are liberal only believe "this and that?" For instance, why can't democrat believe in the 2nd amendment? And now, as you look around, there are more LGBTQ+ that are "coming out" as conservative. As a former conservative, my views are still very much my own, but I believe that the left wing and the right wing are all on the same plane. Ever since I quit filling my head with political news, I now see people quite differently. The news (whether left or right) is meant to divide us. Try cutting off the political news for at least one month, and let me know what that does for your life. I have never felt so free as I do today. I'm not angry anymore, yelling at the news anchor, or having social media debates with strangers online. It's not worth it. So now, I don't ~identify~ as a conservative or a liberal. I'm just me. What you choose is none of my business.

I hope this helped in some way. I think most of us are plagued by our own ego and we don't even realize it. At least, I didn't. Becoming self-aware and brutally honest about your authentic self, puts you in a position to see opposing views as non-threatening. I find myself questioning more than lecturing. And how can you learn anything if you don't question anything and everything? That in itself creates a very small world, and a very small-minded outlook of the world. 

Let go of the irrational fear, but hang onto the healthy kind of fear so you can bump yourself up to the next level. 

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook. Check out her cooking blog at DebsCucina.com for some of her famous recipes and check out her Instagram full of food videos!