I've been out of prison for about 6 months now and the first question people ask me "Whats it like being free after a year in prison?"
My answer is always different.
I would say the emotion I feel most often is gratitude. I'm very grateful for you guys and my friends and family for having stood by me. Yesterday the owner of my gym said "Hey man, I didn't know you were the Charlie Shrem, thanks for your crusade for personal liberty". That always hits me like a brick when someone recognizes me. It used to fuel my ego and pride but now it just makes me want to give everyone a hug.
See, I wasn't always like this. You can find articles online about me and easily say "Look at this stupid rich kid with the ego". I admit it, sometimes I was a dick and mean to people. I loved everyone, but as Bitcoin grew and my company took off I let it get to my head. And then one day I was arrested at the airport and it all came tumbling down.
In prison it was an uphill battle. The problem with being in the newspapers is people can read about you, judge you and come up with their own conclusions about you without even knowing you. As you read from my Geek in Prison series, most people knew about me from day 1. This was a very bad thing. I had to constantly prove myself to be a good person.
When I was in prison, I learnt a lot of rational thinking. How does our thinking effect the way we act and react?
For example, if your partner leaves his shoes in the hallway and you trip over them, your first reaction is "You should move your shoes!" and you get angry. This is a negative reaction.
You can train yourself to do what they called a "rational self analyses". There are various thinking errors that cause you to have a negative emotion. If you catch those thinking errors in the process you could potentially stop a negative action. Now, if you trip over shoes it still hurts and of course your partner knows that leaving the shoes in the hallway is a bad idea, but does your reaction have to be negative?
The "should" statement is an example of a thinking error that can quickly get you angry. Remember, its not about who is right our wrong or anything like that, its your reaction. When you have a negative reaction you go from problem solving to problem creating.
"You should move your shoes!" is a thinking error.
Here are other thinking errors:
Absolutes– Thinking in absolute, extreme, over-generalized or stereotyped ways. Using terms such as “never”, “always”, or “forever” when they are clearly invalid
Awfulizing – Looking at things in a negative way. Some types of this error are: Thinking that you can’t tolerate an unpleasant emotion or that you will go crazy or die if you experience one; Thinking that a problem is more severe than it is; exaggerating how bad something is; Thinking that only bad things will certainly happen;
Blaming – Thinking that other people or things are totally responsible when bad things happen to you.
I Can’t– Making excuses for not doing something, or declaring that you are not able to do it. Some types of this error are:
Have To/Need/Must – Saying that you “have to” behave in some way; thinking that some behavior which you have chosen or selected was coerced or reflexive. Treating a want, desire, or preference as if it were a need.
Loaded Words – Loaded words trigger images that create strong feelings. Loaded words lead to unwanted feelings and emotions. Put downs are ways to disrespect someone else to make yourself feel better or attempt to put others down to your level of emotional state.
He/She/It Statements – Suggesting that you are not in control of your feeling or emotions and someone else is causing you to feel a certain way. Others may contribute to your emotions, but they are not the sole cause. You create your own self-esteem and your own feelings.
Statement of Fact – This is when you make an assumption or opinions about something and then present your opinion as fact.
Rhetorical Question – You often hide your thoughts in questions, because you really don’t want an answer. They are questions in which you are making a statement rather than looking for information (making a statement that sounds like a question). Example: How stupid do you think I am? There are hidden motives behind rhetorical questions.
Should – Demanding that they world be a certain way; demanding that the behavior of others, self, or objects be a certain way, usually the way you want them to be. This may take the form of demanding immediate gratification.
I studied these thinking errors and tried to learn how to catch myself in the process of doing them and it changed my life. I'm not perfect but I no longer allows these thinking errors to make me a feel a certain way.
I used to awfulize all the time. In fact, they said that I was catastrophizing which is worse. I would always assume the worst catastrophe would happen and react on that.
You can check yourself for memorizing these thinking errors and doing constant self analyses by saying "Why am I reacting this way".
What are your beliefs that led you to a consequences?
For the shoes example, my beliefs were that my partner should move her shoes. The consequences were that I got angry and had a fight with her about it. If I challenge that belief by saying "Well, things happen and we all forget to do things sometimes", in time the desired consequences are better. I don't get angry and I become more understanding.
How do you deal with issues like this?