–Are the keys in the hands of others or ourselves?
How many of us realize we’re being imprisoned by others, even though we cannot see the bars of our cage. Who are these others? They could be anyone, including your spouse, parents, friends, the person next door, or even the corporation that makes you wait on hold for an inordinate amount of time.
Hostage situations come in many forms, though essentially they can be defined as: being controlled by another person that takes away our power and makes us subservient to their will, rather than to our own. Way too often we sacrifice our wills to the controlling demands of others, which is an injustice to ourselves.
Overly-controlling people are frequently humored to avoid confrontation, or because the person being controlled lacks personal power and wants someone to take charge over their lives. Partners who always have to check in with their significant other before taking their next breath (just about!) is a good example. The controlling person tells others what to do, when to do it, how to act and how high to jump, like well-trained dogs, and people comply.
Beyond avoiding conflict, the giving up of one’s will to another may allow this person to keep their secure position, which confrontation or rebellion might upset and take away. The fear of the unknown, if circumstances changed, holds them hostage. Or maybe it’s the eventual dream of the carrot on the stick that does it.
In this case, someone is held hostage by having dangled before them a much desired “treat” almost within reach. Sometimes it is never intended to be given, but is used as a means to get others to do what they want. For instance, extramarital affairs: “Eventually I’ll leave so-and-so and we’ll be together. Just wait for me!” The best response to that would be, “Great! When you get clear, look me up and we’ll see where we stand.” It avoids jail time and keeps the eventual dream intact psychologically; but it allows the person on the outside to keep their own lives and put the relationship on hold until it comes around in a way that serves everyone.
Another control method is the “shut-down”. Famous for this maneuver are lovers and spouses. The shut-down is passive-aggressive, leaving the other person in a limbo of not knowing what’s going on, and no way to find out.
And lastly, we hold ourselves prisoners. Our inner fears can make us the prisoner and the warden. For instance, you hate your job but you continue to do it because the litany of fear inside your head basically says, “You won’t be able to improve anything by making a change. You never know what you’ll end up with, it could be worse.” This is an alibi to keep you locked tight in your cell, keep your security, and avoid the scarey unknown.
Yes, some prefer that rather than exerting themselves, striking out and creating their own positive destiny. How else can one evolve to a new and better level if they are afraid to let go of what doesn’t work? Sure it’s misery, they think, but it’s secure.
Those who find themselves in these situations are cheating themselves of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – basic rights our ancestors thought important enough to guarantee as freedom.
Anyone can walk out of self-imposed jail any time they choose. It involves trusting that where you will end up will be far better than where you are now. If you can’t believe in that, you will remain ineffectual and manipulated. Just open the door and step outside for some fresh air, embrace the unknown and take yourself to a better, freer place.