An Identity Prison or Personality Prison is, most simply put, when “we” or our Consciousness are trapped in our identity. We are imprisoned by the character and role that we play in our lives. We are completely “locked-in” to the story, behaviors, habits, beliefs, truths, and lies of this identity. Locked-in is a phenomena when your patterns and mechanisms become deeply ingrained to the point that it becomes impossible to change without a deep intervention.
The consequence of identity lock-in is that we get lost in the story of our personality and forgot our true nature — but this is not just about intellectually remembering or believing some nice new story about your essence and authentic self. We will explore this topic in depth, and talk about the real effort required to become free of this quagmire of illusions.
An Identity prison may seem harmless compared to a physical prison — but our minds and souls can get trapped in there for decades and lifetimes. A lifetime here is not necessarily relating to multiple physical bodies/reincarnation, it can even be through major life transitions where it seems like we are getting a fresh start, only to later realize our prisons come with us. And if you believe in the energetic afterlife, then yes, these prisons carry over physical and non-physical lifetimes too.
The biggest issue with personality prisons is that they create suffering in our physical “real” lives.
We are in a personality prison when our story owns us
Freedom of Consciousness is when we own and shape our identity
Spiritual liberation is complete only when we own our mundane story
Our story may keep changing, and yet it owns us. We may have the illusion that we are the ones changing our story, but, at deeper layers the story remains the same — all that changes are the appearances, the illusion. The illusion of change. Truly owning your story and changing it requires a shift at fundamental levels that can only happen through a determined will & persistent effort.
There is the idea of liberation in spiritual philosophy. While this is a very important topic, the idea has been twisted and corrupted deeply over time — what people preach, practice, and believe today is just another illusion that imprisons them. Liberation of Consciousness is not just partial, it is not only in certain moments of meditation or Samadhi, it is not conditional. The liberation experienced in these moments is a signal of what can be achieved in our everyday lives. If you experience liberation once and “believe” you are free, but still cannot own and operate your personality of your own will, how free are you really?
This spiritual escapism has become all too common today. Spiritual egos all over the place running around mindlessly echoing ideas of spiritual masters, without any real understanding of what it means. Saying something doesn’t make it real. Believing something doesn’t change who you are at a fundamental level, it only changes your self-image, which is yet another illusion. Real deep transformation happens by liberating our Consciousness from our personality prisons. The key is to understand why we need and adhere to these illusions.
Why do we love to live in the tiny corners of our vast minds?
Fear, Comfort, Laziness.
But most importantly — Trauma
Our identity / personality gives us a sense of familiarity, it creates a comfort zone where we believe we know who we are. We believe we understand how the world works, and we know our role in the world. Every aspect of your life becomes part of your identity. It becomes a problem when you are overly-attached to your identity — then any change becomes a threat. When you are too afraid to change an aspect of yourself, you are in a personality prison.
Having the freedom to explore psychological space is as vital to our wellbeing as eating food, drinking water, and breathing air. When we start getting trapped in our minds, it is akin to torture for the physical body. When your mind and soul cannot roam free and explore the endless dimensions of consciousness, you are a slave trapped in A Prison for Consciousness — you are now serving your personality rather than owning it. Symptoms of personality prisons include compulsive behavior, depression, addictions, toxic relationships, and any limiting patterns that repeat endlessly.
Realizing that you are trapped in a consciousness prison / psychological prison / soul prison is the first step to liberation. Often we do not even realize that we are imprisoned because of the structure and nature of such prisons. They are invisible to the eye and the mind that is uneducated in such matters.
Rather than educating us, culture adds blinders by normalizing, validating, and reinforcing personality prisons.
While education is a big step towards recognizing imprisonment, freeing yourself requires much more than that. Education is just a tiny part. Liberation requires effort…
Why do we stay locked-in? Mostly because it’s easy and doesn’t require any active effort.
It is easier to live on the tiny extreme of any idea spectrum rather than explore the chaotic middle ground. That is why the world is polarized. It is much easier to stay stuck to a fixed narrative than explore, have a discussion, keep an open mind, be compassionate. All that requires effort and flexibility. And why make all that effort when you can just keep arguing by repeating the narrative given to you by spiritual, psychological, financial, political “experts” without having to think for yourself.
The biggest reason we stay stuck is that the global culture and psychological environment is deeply toxic and traumatizing. We live in a culture of disempowerment where we are taught and programmed to be passive victims or active tyrants. Even those who believe they are helping tend to disempower because that is the depth of the toxicity. But not everything is gloom and doom, there is a way out when you start understanding the prison.
Shedding the Shell
It can be quite intimidating to step out in the open after a lifetime of crouching in the caves of consciousness. But once liberated from those tiny hell-holes and prisons, there is a realization:
What was once your protection later becomes your prison
Don’t let your protection become your prison
Every protective layer, every boundary, hardens over time to become a shell which eventually constricts us and becomes a prison. Even long after the danger has passed, we forget to shed this shell and become attached and identified with it to the point that we believe we are this shell. And so you are not just a prisoner, you are also the prison — and how can a prison be free from itself?! We can only free ourselves by realizing we are not the shell, we are not the prison, we are not our beliefs.
Our beliefs can be protective and helpful in some moments, but if we are not regularly updating our beliefs and cleansing our minds, we just keep accumulating junk. Outdated beliefs become toxic prisons that lock us into tiny corners of our minds.
We get trapped in belief-prisons given to us by culture, but we are the ones holding on to these prisons and dragging them around with us wherever we go. Culture teaches us to imprison ourselves and it also teaches us to keep our prisons alive. It tells us that these prisons keep us safe and so we police ourselves to make sure we never break out. But when you realize you are the warden and the prisoner, you now realize you have the key to exit the prison.
These realizations and insights are not enough because they are too general. Each belief becomes a shell and the reality is that we are shells within shells within shells. It is our individual responsibility to identify each belief, detach and disidentify from it, and shed each shell to lighten our consciousness. This work requires real effort, guidance, support, and will.
It is nearly impossible to see our own prisons without external help. We need teachers and others to mirror us so we can see ourselves. Sometimes our prisons look wonderful and we mistake that for freedom. Only someone trained to see these prisons can help us to break out (more on the “why” of this below).
These shells keep taking up space and cost us energy. At some point the world becomes too overwhelming because our shells are using so much energy that we barely have any left to deal with life and reality. At this point you may feel like you are falling apart, breaking down, burning out, cracking, or any other similar feeling of overwhelm that many people experience. What do you do?
If you keep trying to keep it together, to hold on, if you keep struggling with the overwhelm, it is just going to drive you crazy and burn you up. The easy way out? Break down, fall apart. Why? Because what is breaking is just a shell — it’s not you, not the real you anyway — you have just become identified and attached to a shell that you have built and carried for a very long time. The universe is helping you to shed it, if only you allow the process.
When you shed it, when you break down, fall apart, and crack open, what you will realize is a sense of expansion, a feeling of space, a refreshing energy and a new container that is lighter, cleaner, and better suited for your present needs. Your prison has broken and your space has expanded. You will eventually realize that you are still within a shell, a larger shell, a different shell, but you can experience space and growth while you fully fill out this outer layer — until you are ready to outgrow it some day.
See, the pressure of overwhelm is not just from life and reality, it’s not just from the outside. You are growing, so naturally your shell will no longer fit you some day. Just like the snake, you shed your skin and emerge in a new space with a shiny new soft layer — that will toughen over time and shed once again, giving you space to grow further. This is just a natural process.
Everyone believes in something..
Some believe in everything..
How? Believing gods exist doesn’t mean you have to belong to a religion or worship these gods. We can appreciate the rational mind but that doesn’t mean we have to become a rationalist or an atheist. Why are we forcing ourselves into these idea-camps? Is it that scary to live out in the open mindscape? Why do we have this compulsion to “belong” to a specific belief system?
Consciousness Nomadism, or Comadism is an experiential philosophy and a lifestyle wherein you can believe and explore freely without feeling any pressure to belong to a particular system of thought/belief. This allows an AND-ing rather than an OR-ing. Instead of the limited mindset which lives in exclusivity, you can move to the heartset of inclusivity because…
The Mind is OR-ing…
The Heart is AND-ing…
Understanding this requires understanding the way our minds and hearts function. Or at least the rational parts of our minds with which we are most identified. Our rational minds have a lot of artificial rules that create exclusivity. “If we choose one we have to drop the other.” There are ridiculous expressions such as “There are only two types of people”, or “These are your only options, you have to choose one or the other”. This is the way of looking at the world with OR-eyes.
Culture paints everything with a dualistic brush.
Hearts think in ways different than the rational mind. They are capable of processing multiple things simultaneously because they are irrational. So you can be happy and sad and angry about the same thing. But if you try to think about it without feeling your heart and your emotions you will likely think it has to be one or the other.
When we learn to think with our hearts, we can see the world with AND-eyes, upon which a whole new level of reality opens up. One in which we can AND the options in our lives. We can hold together both science and spirituality, logic and faith, the rational and the irrational, the magical with the skeptical. We can be multidimensional. We can have our whole minds and hearts rather than living in the tiny corners of our vast minds.
There is a beauty and power that is incomparable when a healthy mind, heart, and body, are working in unison. This trifecta of intelligence opens up doors of Consciousness that are inconceivable by the rational mind alone. Continue reading about this in our post “The Earth is Both Flat AND Spherical”.
The Real Effort
As I have mentioned several times in this and other posts, liberation and change at this level requires an effort that is much bigger than anything we do in our lives. It also requires teachers and support+mirroring from others who are on the same journey. Doing it by yourself is yet another illusion that keeps us trapped in our personality prisons. It is one of the shells of illusory beliefs that we developed to protect ourselves from the vulnerability of our early psychological wounds.
Several participants in our Study of Self groups come to realize the power of working with others, of healing with others, is incomparable to any self-help and individual therapy. Learning to connect and work with others is an essential part of being human, one that is often disregarded by many people on “The Spiritual Self-Help Hamster Wheel”. A lot of people are just focusing on themselves in exclusivity. Working on yourself is a great thing, that is even better when you do it with others.
There are spaces available to explore, develop, and heal yourself. Working on yourself in a facilitated group with dedicated individuals and skilled teachers is not the same as talking to a friend. While it can help to be supported by a friend and share or vent your feelings, real healing requires more than that. Because a friend will help you with your present situation, a real teacher will help you to uncover the roots of repeating patterns and toxic situations — and give you tools to heal at the root level.
“As I said, man is in prison. If he realizes he is in prison, he may wish to run away. But he may be afraid that if he runs away he may find himself in a worse position than before, and so he may reconcile himself to staying in prison. If he decides to run away, he must understand that two conditions are necessary: he must be one of a number of people who wish to run away, for they have to dig a tunnel, and one man cannot do it alone, and secondly, they must have help from those who have run away before them. So first he must realize he is in prison; second, he must wish to run away; third, he must have friends who also wish to run away; fourth, he must have help from outside; fifth, he must work to dig the tunnel. No amount of faith or prayer can dig the tunnel for him. And he does not know what he will find when he gets out of prison. There are many reasons why one man cannot escape from prison. But twenty people may. Each of them profits by the work of the rest. What one gains, all the twenty gain.”
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