I once spent some time in a women’s prison... that is, coaching women inmates. I was struck by how articulate, smart, funny, contrite, and eager they were about getting a second chance to move on with their lives.

And for those brief hours we used to hang out together, I would momentarily forget they were inmates incarcerated because they’d committed a crime.

But then I would get to leave the building, while they were escorted back to the confinement of their cells.

I have other clients I coach who are in prison. But it's a different kind of prison. There are no bars on the windows or heavy bolts on the doors.

They are trapped in the prison of their mind.

Some of them feel incarcerated and trapped by a life they believe they'll never be able to change or transform. And some of them believe deeply that it's their external circumstances or conditions in life that are the cause of the problem.

I'd be happy if my boss hadn't fired me...

I don’t have the right kind of personality to start my own business…

I wasn’t born confident like other people…

If only he would be different, then I’d be happy.

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of gut-wrenching stories from my clients about lost relationships, jobs, wealth, and lost hope. There's no question about it, life can sometimes slap us in the face.

Hardship and adversity in life are inevitable and as predictable as the sun going down each day. And the emotional pain we feel is normal and inevitable. This is clean pain. But what I've noticed is that the people who end up feeling imprisoned and trapped in a life they don't want... who can't seem to shake off an unhappy cycle, are people who spin stories about what their plight means and why their pain is different. And boy, are we good at spinning a story.