Journal Entry 

 The Power of a Positive Mindset 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

The Power of a Positive Mindset: Overcoming Mental Challenges

Navigating the mental challenges of incarceration requires resilience and adaptability. In my book, Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Prison Term, I described the strategies that worked for me. I remember one example of a changed situation in prison that troubled me.

Early in my sentence, I got a job in one of the prison’s offices. My supervisor, Ms. Stephens, supported my efforts to earn a university degree. She authorized me access to a word processor. With her permission, I could become more efficient at completing my schoolwork. Because of her support, I accelerated my progress in school, which led to my earning two degrees. I also learned more about technology.

When the prison promoted Ms. Stephens, I got a new supervisor who revoked the privilege I’d taken for granted. Without access to the writing tool, I felt a new mental hurdle. I felt the system would continue to take things away from me. Those losses made me feel like a prisoner.

To overcome such challenges, I learned I would have to live in the world as it existed rather than as I wanted it to be. At any time, the environment could change. I could lose privileges. I would have to develop strategies to get through those challenges. That’s what led to the multi-part approach to coping with crisis:

  • Define success as the best possible outcome, given the current predicament.
  • Create a plan.
  • Put priorities in place.
  • Adjust as necessary, but hold myself accountable.
  • Execute the plan every day.

Our course, “Preparing for Success after Prison,” empowers individuals to develop their own coping strategies. Participants can deepen their learning by emailing [email protected] with “Request a Book” in the subject line to receive resources like “Earning Freedom,” “Success after Prison,” and others.

Critical Thinking:

  • To foster personal growth, I challenge you to identify one aspect of your current environment that you can positively influence.
  • How can you turn a limitation into an opportunity for development?
    • This exercise is not just about adapting to your circumstances but thriving within them, using your inner strength and resilience.

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