Monday, August 31, 2009

Are You Being Held Captive?

One of the major current news stories is that of Jaycee Lee Dugard, the 29 year old woman who was held captive for 18 years after being abducted when she was 11 years old. From reports, she had ample opportunity to escape or make contact with her family or the authorities, working in the kidnappers' home-based business and enjoying use of Internet and telephones, as well as freedom of movement. Jaycee's story is an example of Stockholm Syndrome, in which captives begin to sympathize with their captors and adopt the captors' views, or think that they are safer with those who have abducted them.Despite having freedom available to her, Jaycee chose to stay with the kidnappers, enduring rape, even giving birth to 2 children fathered by Phillip Garido.

These stories are so difficult for us to fathom, as we question why anyone would choose captivity, choose to stay with their captors, never challenging or saying anything. Even with freedom at their disposal, they choose instead to stay. In this case, the captive was a child when abducted, but Stockholm Syndrome is reported even in abducted adults. It seems hard for us to imagine, yet it is a somewhat common occurrence in these situations.

While this concept seems shocking when we think of it in terms of physical captivity, most of us have succumbed to this affliction in our minds, our souls, our social and spiritual thinking, to some degree or another. We demonstrate this each time we agree to society's norms or fall victim to the rules that hold us back from our true joy, each time we follow prescribed thoughts and practices without question, afraid to step outside of the lines, afraid to be our true selves, willingly adopting the identity that was put upon us by parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, ministers, neighbors, peers - by our collective society, generally all well-meaning, but nonetheless restraining. These ideas are put upon us when we are young, like Jaycee was, and as we mature we begin to believe them, just as she did. We obediently follow this set of limits, confining ourselves voluntarily from the greater life that lies beyond, finding false comfort in our immediate safety or surroundings.

Once we have bought into sympathizing with our captor (the predetermined thoughts that society gives us through school, church, media, peer pressure), we are our own prison guard, relinquishing real life and freedom just to keep those around us happy, just to prevent their disappointment or rejection. It feels safe to stay within the boundaries, safe because we do not have to make decisions or be accountable, safe because we don't upset the apple cart of our own reservations. Even when we KNOW there is something better, even when we feel it deep within our souls, we are reluctant to accept it.

Marianne Williamson has said,
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

We do not fear being inadequate because that is what we are told either directly or in the more subtle ways that society, religion or individuals may tell us. We readily accept the negative things we are told..."You are not good enough..You are are not are will never amount to anything...You are selfish...greedy...lazy...sloppy...not disiplined enough...disorganized...fat...skinny...ugly...dumb...sinful...
Once we attach to any of these negative thoughts, they are implanted upon our psyche like a parasite, eating away at our true greatness. Even when we succeed or hear good things, they come with conditions that keep us bound by more limits.

Our most difficult fear to overcome is the realization that WE have the power, that we are actually in control of our own destinies. This is partly because we have been taught that we are flawed and partly because we don't want to feel responsible for being more. It is much safer to just stay within the boundaries and limitations than it is to look this fear in the eye and overcome it. Yet, just as in the cases of many Stockholm Syndrome victims, we have the freedom to leave when we want to. Claiming our freedom may require that we turn our thinking upside down until we can reverse our distortions to find our truth, find our way back to our true selves, to our oneness with the Creator, our unity with the Universe and all that it holds.

Do you suffer from Stockholm Syndrome in your life? Are your views truly your own, or mostly from those that have been implanted in your mind, particularly when you were young and impressionable? Do you think of yourself as limitless or limited? I think that many of us set up our spiritual beliefs based on what is around us and what we have been told. We do not seek to see or feel more because we are afraid of seeing our power and greatness.

But the good news is that Stockholm Syndrome is reversible. Escaping captivity and living in freedom is as simple as changing your thoughts, adopting new ideas, opening your mind to realize that you are more, that you will no longer be limited by the boundaries that others try to impose. At this time in history, it is much easier to challenge our thoughts and open our minds because there are so many more resources available to us for communication and dialogue, and because more and more people are heeding the call to do so (safety in numbers!) Do not fear your freedom -embrace it. Embrace the power you have within you to choose a new life and new way, as so many others are doing right now. Look around, listen, read, observe, connect.

Therein lies your way home.

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