Are You a Hostage?

“When we consistently suppress and distrust our inner knowingness, looking instead for authority, validation and approval from others, we give our personal power away.” ~Shakti Gawain

“We all feel the urge to condemn ourselves out of guilt, to blame others for our misfortunes and to fantasize about total disaster.” ~Deepak Chopra

“It is an unnecessary burden to make negative judgmental assumptions about others. We are all on a journey.” ~Steve Maraboli

We live in a free country and enjoy all of the freedoms this entails. Yet, day in and day out I encounter so many who are being held hostage by an entirely different kind of prison keeper. As much as they may be physically free, they are being held hostage by their minds through their thoughts, perspectives and beliefs. This creates a whole new level of suffering and despair that is no less tragic than being physically restrained.

Hostage cat behind bars
Being a Grief Recovery facilitator and coach, I fully understand and appreciate all grief and sorrow is 100% real for the griever, so I in no way minimize anyone’s pain. However, it does become our choice as to how long we wish to suffer and be at the mercy of our losses. We either choose the path of recovery and freedom by changing the thoughts, perspectives and beliefs that no longer serve our higher good. Or we choose to remain victims and forever held prisoner to the thoughts that keep us trapped in an ongoing cycle of suffering.

What Holds Us Hostage?

What thoughts keep us hostage to our suffering and how can we think differently in order to escape?

Needing the Approval of Others

This is a big hurdle for many people. Others can validate or negate us based on how much importance we put on their approval. As long as we believe other people need to approve of us before we can approve of ourselves, we will be forever at their mercy.

This holds true for relationships that have ended, particularly with our parents. So much pain and grief is wrapped up in needing the approval of parents, which can be difficult if they are no longer alive. Suffering ends when we can learn not to need their approval any longer, and we can give ourselves the approval we so longed for from them.


Oh how easy it is to blame others for everything: our feelings, our misfortune, and our circumstances. If that doesn’t work, we can decide to blame ourselves and indulge in guilt instead. Neither one will provide the sense of self-empowerment that will bring you to freedom. Blame will always keep you forever hostage to others or to your ego. The only way to break free is to accept responsibility for your actions, reactions and situation.


Judgment has become a natural reflex for pretty much most of us has it not? I know for myself that I had to learn how to consciously practice non-judgment. Whatever you decide for yourself, realize when you are in judgment you are at the mercy of whomever or whatever you are judging. You are spending your mental and emotional energy by wanting something or someone to be different.

Judgment is akin to not accepting the many realities of life: people hurt, people will disappoint, and people are human, which means they fail and will not always live up to our expectations. Life is not always fair, bad things happen to good people, good people do bad things. You can judge until you are “blue in the face” and it will not change a thing. By letting go of the need to judge as a form of protection, you can put an end to a great deal of suffering.


Let’s not forget about the almighty king of so much unnecessary suffering: Fear. It immobilizes us. We create drama over false anticipation about future events fabricated in our head by our thoughts. We bring the past into the present based on our experiences creating a reality we don’t really want. It has been said that FEAR is nothing more than False Evidence Appearing Real, and that 95% of our fears never happen.

However, regardless of these statements fear can grab hold, take over and make our lives miserable. Only until we look past, through and beyond our fears will we be able to release ourselves from its relentless grip.

Encompassing all of the above is the amount of suffering that is caused by using our thoughts to “argue with reality”. As if by saying something should not have happened, or someone should not be the way they are, or something should not be happening in the moment, or someone should not be behaving a certain way will change the situation or the person. Our resistance to what is will never change it. Our acceptance of what is, however, will free us from the pain and suffering caused by our resistance and arguments.

The choice to let go becomes ours then: do we need approval, blame, judgment, fear, and resistance to what is? Letting go means no longer being held hostage by our ego’s thoughts and the suffering they cause us.

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