“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
Alice Walker, author of “The Color Purple”
I love this quote. It reminds me of something I’ve struggled with on occasion. Like say, last week when I was having a career-related ” poor me” party, and forgot that I wasn’t completely at the mercy of events; that there were some steps I could take to on my own behalf.
Yes, I was guilty of giving my power away.
If you’re starting over with a criminal record, you might also feel you have little power. That’s okay. It’s perfectly understandable to worry about taking charge of your life again, particularly if you’ve served time and had most of your daily movements proscribed.
But you do have more power than you realize, and even if you don’t feel it now, you can reclaim it. Here are some of the most common areas where people with criminal records (and even those without them) tend to give up power and strategies on how to get it back.
- Signs and Symptoms: Thinking no one will hire you because you have a criminal record, thinking you’re turned down for jobs because of your past or because there’s something wrong with you. Giving up prematurely on an employment search, getting overly nervous in interviews because you’re afraid you won’t get the job.
- Remedies: Assessing your strengths and weaknesses so you know what you have to offer an employer and how to sell yourself. Being upfront about your background and how you’ve changed and moved beyond it. Acknowledging you understand why an employer might have concerns, but emphasizing how you will work to the best of your ability to prove yourself. Realizing that everyone gets turned down for jobs, particularly in this market, and persisting in your search for as long as it takes.
- Signs and Symptoms: Staying in a relationship where you are unable to be your best self, or one that is abusive or otherwise unhealthy. Can include romantic relationships or friendships where you are encouraged to engage in behavior that is not in your best interest. Becoming involved in a relationship where you feel you must sacrifice your dreams or desires in order to make someone else happy. Carrying grudges or anger from slights or hurts in the past.
- Remedies: Learning to value your own wants and needs as much as other people’s. Making sure you do not have to sacrifice who you are to maintain a friendship or relationship. Seeking out alliances with individuals you admire who are living the kind of life that you aspire to. Leaving relationships that are abusive or otherwise unhealthy. Dedicating yourself to developing your own strengths and reaching your own goals. Letting go of blame for past hurts and moving on with your own life.
- Signs and Symptoms: Usually obvious and unhealthy attachment to substances or practices that are destructive and ultimately take over your life; drugs, alcohol, gambling, thrill-seeking, sex, etc.
- Remedies: Acceptance, treatment and support.
Dealings with Law Enforcement:
- Signs and Symptoms: Unnatural or exaggerated fear that even though you have served your time, police or local law enforcement (sometimes even probation officers are included here) are out to get you.
- Remedies: Realization that you have control over your actions. As long as you choose to abide by the conditions of your release and become a law-abiding citizen, you should not be in trouble again. Realizing the people, places and things that can get you in trouble and avoiding those can go a long way towards helping you stay on the right path.
Readers, how about you? Have you ever struggled to hold onto your power? Have you ever given it away and regretted it? And if so, how have you gotten it back?