Keeping a prisoner in solitary confinement is a particularly unpleasant form of incarceration. With the odd exception where an inmate is placed alone in a cell either for their own safety or that of others, it’s a practice that can swiftly lead to prisoners developing severe mental disorders.
In fact the damaging psychological consequences of locking someone up on their own have been reasonably common knowledge since the 1860s, yet even today thousands of prisoners are held in solitary confinement all over the world.
It doesn’t take a particularly vivid imagination to see that being denied any connections with others while also being confined in a small space with little or no visual stimulus could quickly turn toxic.
Here’s the thing though. Isn’t this almost the kind of position in which you and I place ourselves (yes, ourselves) when our mood takes a tumble?
If I’ve hit a low spot I’m all too aware that I can be inclined to isolate myself, and it’s bad enough that I shun all but unavoidable contact with others, but I’m also pretty sure I do that thing where my eyes appear to see nothing of my surroundings. They move slowly with no particular focus.
When I stop to think about it, it can feel as if I’m locked in a prison cell with its key thrown away, yet ironically this prison is one of my own making.
And of course this low-mood/prison cell idea soon becomes self-perpetuating. The less I notice of my surroundings, the worse I end up feeling. I’ve retreated into my own little world: a world which isn’t particularly appealing.
So stop. Break out of that prison. Scale its walls and set yourself free.
How? A good start is to shift your gaze so you focus properly on all that’s around you. See small details that were invisible to you, even though they were right before your eyes. Notice shapes, colours and textures. Explore the spaces between shapes.
This may seem a modest action, but it can play a powerful part in lifting you out of that hole in which you’d rather not be lurking.
The right time to begin your prison break-out? How about right now?