There are different mindsets that people bring to prison because they have different expectations of what it’s going to be and preparing themselves to do different lengths of time.
The first month for me was easy for some reason, almost like it hadn’t sunk in yet. But it could have been the fact I had prepared myself mentally to do 120 months from the day I walked in those prison doors.
Some people struggle right away so it’s not easy for everyone. I have seen people almost kill themselves over doing a 10 month sentence, so obviously it’s different for everyone. Around month two or three it became real and I started to wonder when it would get better.
It eventually did but I just had to stay busy to keep my mind off the future. When you are doing time you can’t think about your out date, you can’t count days or even months early on, all you can do is accept the world around you and just live.
One thing I had promised myself at the beginning was that I would never enter the mindset of a convict and become one.
I told myself no matter how long I am here it’s only temporary. And I will not become that guy you see on TV that can’t reintegrate back into society.
If I would have started at a higher up facility this may have not have been as easy. Because they play by different rules up there, and it’s more of a game of survival so you don’t really have a choice.
Much of doing prison time is mental because one person you are stuck with the whole time is yourself and you can become your own worst enemy.
The first thing you should realize is you are probably capable of doing a lot more time than you think.
“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.” – Steve Maraboli
A friend of mine once told me he turned down a 60 month plea deal because he didn’t think for a second that he could live through that amount of time behind bars. The next deal was 14 years (168 months) and the 60 month deal was gone. He was at Milan when I got there and now he is here, over 9 years into his sentence with a little longer to go. But, once you have your sentence you can start to prepare yourself mentally for doing that time.
Obviously you don’t have a choice on whether you are going to do the time or not, but you do have a choice on how you do your time.
You can quickly turn a 10 month sentence into a 10 year sentence by fighting it every day that you are incarcerated.
For short sentences, you must understand that it will be over before you know it, and you are probably going to be at a nice facility with little to no violence. As for the middle range sentences from 2-5 years you have a little more time on your hands so you will have to find a way to make your time productive, learn a trade or skill, maybe something you passed up in life and wish you wouldn’t have. I wrote a post all about how to deal with your time through routine here.
Again, this amount of time can seem long but once you get to prison and realize there are people who have been down three to four times as long and still have your sentence to do, it’s not so bad. Anything over five years reaching into the 10-20 year range takes a little more effort.
You start to question whether it’s even worth living anymore, and you start to think about all your regrets, and all the things you are going to miss out on. For me it took a few years, maybe even five years, to finally realize how I can be more productive with my time.
Early on you will feel sorry for yourself and you try so hard not to think about your outdate. Then you quickly realize valuable time is slipping away and all of a sudden you are getting ready to go home. You start to wonder what you will actually have once you get out. For longer sentences you have to dig deep to find things like self-worth and you have to start living for someone or something else, whether that is friends, family, or God…and that is something you need to figure out on your own.
In the end though you have to make sure you take care of one person. And that one person if yourself. Because if you can’t fix yourself while you are incarcerated there is a good chance you will be back for a second chance behind bars again, try to change.
Thanks for listening!