Recently Talib shared his Reconstruct Program with a group of inmates located at another prison. This is his reponse to the question asked, “Does one need to use tactics to survive in prison?”
Do you want to know a sad reality? Most of us behind bars don’t even trust ourselves. That is why “doing the right thing” so scary. There is this hidden sense of fear that we don’t like to confront. The mere thought of failure after having been told that we are failures is scary. For most people there is no fear of doing the right thing. When one is guided by fears when it comes to being accountable there is a defense mechanism that we use and it is called ‘tactics’. That being something that we use to craftily avoid accountability. Those tactics are there to protect what is called ‘thinking barriers’. Thinking barriers are, as I define them, the personalities and egos that drive a lot of people. I believe that we are made up of a personalities. Over time we begin to think that we are our personalities and we use the many different personalities as survival tools.
We also have a (for lack of better words) a spiritual essence which ties us in to humankind. It is a essence where we use our feelings and intuitions to influence to guide us. This is not a religious belief but one that we as people inherit from birth. When a child is born and needs to feed, for instance, how does it know what hungry is? The child doesn’t but what is unique is that when the child cries out “we” as adults assume that the child is hungry. So on a deeper level the child begins to exhibit certain behaviors to get a certain response, this is where, in my belief, that we begin to develop our personalities. The child is acting out, and here hunger is not the main issue here, but there is an innate instinct of ‘trust’ that someone/thing is going to cater to his/her need. As we get older we forget to use that instinctual feeling of trust and start using our personalities and likes and dislikes to establish trust with others.
Personalities can change from day to day. In fact we are always changing them in search for something else. Something to replace what ever is not working in our lives. This what I call lifestyle changes. As one changes personalities they have to change lifestyles. There is nothing wrong with that as there is no right or wrong personality except when it comes to a criminal personality.
What is the criminal personality? It is a personality that drives criminal behavior and lifestyle. How is this personality developed? It is a personality that is driven by fear, anger, lust, greed, paranoia, shame, guilt, selfishness, self-pity, excuses and there are a host of other character traits. There is the inability to establish and maintain strong and healthy relationships as one of the traits to this personality is the inability to “trust”.
The question was asked does one need tactic to survive in prison. One has to be tactical in life period but the type of tactics that I am discuss is the tactics that we use to guard our irresponsible thinking and behavior. Tactics are the foot soldiers that guard the head of it all, the general/the one that controls it all, our thoughts.
So how does this work as it concern change? Well the tactics are the food for the personality and the ego, the criminal personality and ego that is. An example of this would be lets say you are holding me accountable for coming to work late. I tell you, “hey what is the big deal everyone comes to work late. In fact you were late the other day.” This is a classical example of me 1. minimizing my behavior and 2. pointing out what you have done, when the issue is me. What happens when I become a master of this behavior and find that I can get away with it? I become a master of manipulation and deceit. I am not learning how to be responsible and I don’t see the reason to do something that “everyone” does. Does that sound familiar? That I did what “everyone else in my life or neighborhood has done.”
What would a person that wants to be responsible do? They may 1. realize that they may be late and try to call and let someone know, or 2. admit that they were late and ask is there anything that they can do to offset that, maybe work a little longer if necessary. There are many variables but I just wanted to make the point that the responsible person that doesn’t use tactics can see how their behavior affects others. The irresponsible person only sees themselves. That is the difference between the two. I don’t need tactic to survive in prison if I have the true desire to be productive and responsible and that does not mean putting my life in jeopardy and causing other problems for myself. No, it means that I am going to be responsible and open to accountability. It is not always easy for me, or anyone else for that matter as we have been conditioned, but it is the focus..
When one begins to understand that this is an individual journey life changes colors. I say changes colors because we all are wearing lenses called our perceptions. Some of us are wearing the right prescriptions others aren’t. Once one finds the right prescriptions life becomes clearer and things that we never saw before become apparent to us. That is the hope in what I do and why I do it.