Are You Building Your Own Prison?

Someone I know well personally came over to my timeline on Facebook last week to pick holes in something I’d shared.  

This is bad social media etiquette, by the way. If you are going to be negative about something shared by another person, you should always share the offending item onto your timeline and then critique it.  This gives your readers some context too.

I don't want to go into too much detail, but essentially this other person objected to my comments, my friend's orginal share, his comments about the headline and our conclusions.  So they dug into the original article that the ‘expert's’ comments were based on, looking for anything possible to use to discredit the opinion of my friend and myself. 

This person was so keen to prove us wrong, thus protecting their worldview, they spent a lot of time and effort and completely missed the whole point of what we were saying and sharing.

I must confess I got a bit triggered by this invasion of my space on Facebook, I'm embarrassed to tell you.  A short, heated exchange of views ensued.

One of the comments I made in reply, before deleting the whole bloody thing in disgust, was that this activity is called ‘building your own prison’.

I've been thinking about this concept all week.

There are two kinds of ‘building your own prison’, which are physical and mental. 

The physical kind is where you take actions that you suspect are going to be to your detriment, in the long term, but you do them anyway, either because of short-term gain or the avoidance of short-term pain.  

This could be because you are being paid to take those actions, and you are scared you might lose your job, or because everyone else is doing this thing and you want to stay safely  in the herd.  You might be scared that if you put your head above the parapet, you might be socially ostracised, or be talked about negatively if you don’t do those actions,

The more awake among you will notice that this is how bullying starts, at school initially, then out in the world of work.  Someone starts behaving badly, for gain usually but sometimes because of internal pain, nobody says anything or stands up to them for fear of personal consequences or being ostracised, and the bad behaviour gets worse.

This is how bullies turn into tyrants, then how those tyrants gain ultimate power over others.  It all goes horribly wrong and it happens because nobody stands up to the bully until it’s too late. 

The mental actions of building your own prison can be either closing your mind to such a degree that you can’t and won’t entertain another point of view, or refusing to examine evidence which may prove you wrong.  You won't even listen to opinions which are different to your own.  You get upset and act out if you don’t agree with someone who is exercising their right to say what they want.  To express an opinion that is different to yours.  

Other ways of building a mental prison for yourself can include jumping to assumptions, holding onto negative or limiting beliefs or not being open to learn new skills or knowledge or to grow as a person.

So, if you find you are tempted, or worse compelled, to spend a great deal of time and energy trying to prove someone wrong, if they say something that offends you or challenges your world-view, you might want to stop and think to yourself

‘Am I building myself a prison here?’

‘Am I missing something important perhaps?’  

This visitor to my timeline could have taken the opportunity to stop, think about what my friend and I were trying to say, why we might have been trying to share it, unpopular opinion as it was, when there was no benefit to us at all in doing so, in fact quite the opposite.  

They might have thought about what made us form our opinions and just ask themselves quietly if we might know something they don’t know (but which they might need to know).

It’s easy to get triggered by fear or anger. 

I let it get to me that day, I’m ashamed to say, but at least I backed up my arguments with facts and links to go check out what I was saying.  i was still trying to help them.

I hope I will always have the mental flexibility to at least consider another point of view, especially if it’s argued passionately by someone who believes in what they are saying.  Especially if it’s someone who I previously liked or respected.

Furthermore, I like to think that if someone presents me with proof that my beliefs about something are wrong, I’ll be able to look at it, consider it and, if necessary, adjust my worldview to encompass this new idea or belief.

Let’s face it, my worldview has been challenged so MANY times in the last four years, I sometimes feel like I’ve been rudely catapulted  into a parallel universe. But I’m still here, rolling with the punches, eager to learn, grow as a person and share my new-found knowledge with anyone who wants to do the same. 

This flexibility and open-minded attitude is so important as an entrepreneur because if you are going to succeed, you are going to need to be open-minded, nimble and adaptable.

Let’s say that you might want to start a business selling Object A or Service B to Audience C, because of their need for D, but their desire for E,  You want to charge Price F for that thing.

If you get any part of that wrong, you can’t just plough on doing the thing that isn’t working.

You have to work out which of those moving parts is not right, maybe more than one, and test and adjust as required.

You don’t get much feedback or arguments from your prospects in the early days. Unlike the visitor to my timeline, your prospects will just ignore you.

There is going to be a deafening silence if you get it wrong because your prospect doesn’t care about you and your business.  Not two of the hoots do they give about either.

So you have to be willing to keep an open mind, take advice, change, grow and experiment or your business will be dead in the water before it’s even got going.

The same kind of deafening silence I should have given my critic, but I just couldn’t help myself.  Because I do care and I couldn’t just walk away, I had to try one more time to get through.

Because I do have some information this person needs, and if they don't open their minds, they won't get that info and that would make me very sad.

But I've done as much as I can now.

With thanks to James Delingpole whose own blog post inspired the title.

Photo by Mitchel Lensink on Unsplash


build your own prison, open minded, open to new ideas, open your mind, other peoples opinions

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