How Prisoners Focus on Goals in the Midst of Negativity

By · Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Prisons are volatile environments. The infrastructure is one that extinguishes hope. Many of the men who serve time choose to abandon thoughts of the outside world because they cannot project themselves decades into the future when release dates loom. Some respond with violence, or with bullying others. Despite my having served more than 21 years in prisons of every security level, however, I’ve managed to use goals to help me thrive in the midst of negativity.

Readings in philosophy helped me through the early years. I felt as if I learned much from wise men who lived before me. Sun Tzu, for example, wrote that a wise man always makes a point of knowing his enemies. Aristotle, on the other hand, suggested that a wise man ought to himself. Although I learned from many philosophers, I derived my adjustment strategy by incorporating those lessons from Aristotle and Sun Tzu.

Knowing my enemy meant that I had to understand all of the adversaries around me. That meant I had to make a point of knowing everything I could about the prison system in which I lived. I also had to take time for introspection. I spent hours thinking about the values that drove me to crime, and the type of life I wanted to create for my future. That meant knowing both my strengths and my weaknesses.

From my readings, I was able to create an adjustment strategy. I’ve written extensively about my adjustment strategy in articles available on and in books I’ve written. Essentially, I determined to reach goals that I set. As a consequence of knowing both my environment and my strengths, I found that I could create a niche for myself within the prison. I committed myself wholeheartedly to the plan for release that I had set. With that plan, I was able to work toward specific goals. Focusing on those goals felt a lot easier than dwelling on the 45-year prison term that my judge imposed. The adjustment strategy made all the difference in my life. Through my writings, I expect to share the strategy with others.

As a consequence of the commitment I made to my adjustment, I was able to build a life of meaning in prison. I earned academic credentials that have opened numerous opportunities. Because of my education, I was able to communicate with others. Many people have come into my life. People believe in me because I say what I want to achieve and I provide regular reports that describe my progress. That work engenders respect from others, and that is how I build support.

Through my work I’ve been able to avoid the negativity of prison. Besides that, I have managed to generate revenues that contribute to society and prepare for my release. Most importantly to me, the work I have done has enabled me to build a family with a magnificent woman who married me in a prison visiting room. As crazy as it may sound, my life in prison surpasses that of many less fortunate people in society.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.