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How To Build Your Own Prison

A Big thanks to Scott Smith for allowing me to publish his articles here on Vigilant Wolf. Scott is past guest of Ever Vigilant podcast (listen here). Scott is a dynamic speaker who is passionate about men ascending into what God has called them to be.

Anger. Guilt. Frustration. Disappointment. Self-sabotage. Unforgiveness. Arrogance. Ego. Narcissism. These are the bricks I used for my building. Brick by brick I stacked these words and more. I built an unshakable foundation. I built four solid walls. I built a roof. There was a single window built of hope. But it was small and had immovable bars covering it. I used these words and what I built was my own prison.

I used to say that I had about an inch and half of empathy- and even that was gone by 8 AM. I was mad all the time. And I mean all the time. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t angry. To quote the great philosopher

Tim McGraw in the song The Cowboy In Me…

"I got a life that most would love to have But sometimes I still wake up fightin’ mad"

I struggled to rectify this. I had a high paying job. I had a supportive and loving wife. I had 3 kids that were awesome. And still, every day, I woke up mad. Irritable. Angry. I would occasionally hear this song by Tim on the radio. Those two lines would hit home. And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. I’m a guy who likes to do things on my own. I read books. I psycho analyzed myself. I was able to identify why I self-sabotaged. Why I was disappointed in myself. Why I was arrogant. Why I needed the narcissism to justify the way I was. I dug into my guilt. I saw why I was angry.

But here’s the kicker: Understanding the WHY doesn’t automatically RESTORE you. Restoration is a path. It’s a journey. That journey starts with understanding the things that are wrong with you. I hesitate to use the word “wrong” there. In truth, there is nothing permanently wrong with you unless you are unwilling to take the journey of restoration.

You can be whole. You can be happy. You can stop waking up fightin’ mad. You can stop living with guilt or arrogance or unforgiveness or whatever your bricks are. But I need to tell you a few things. You need to know them going in. You need to hear them, think about them, process them and accept them. Then, move forward.

The first thing is this:


Most of things that I share or write about include this as a first step. This isn’t honesty with your friends or spouse or whomever. This is honesty with yourself. Until you are really ready to assess where you are struggling, you can never be restored a.k.a. HEALED. I had to look at myself and get honest. I had to look and say that I’m not loving my wife deeply enough because of ME. I’m a good father. But I’m not showing my kids how to love others deeply…put others before myself…love others as I love myself. And that’s because of ME. I was always the loudest person with the biggest stories. Always interjecting my opinions to validate myself. Again, the problem was how I felt inside, the problem was ME. Are you detecting a pattern here? I’m the common denominator. Until I was ready to face this, I still woke up angry. You have to get honest with yourself. If you won’t do that, stop reading. You will be wasting your time if you keep going. If you are willing to get real with yourself…continue on.

The second thing is this:

Bring a sledgehammer.

You know that foundation I referenced? And the walls? Ceiling? The bars on the window? In order to create a new foundation based on what we want to be, we must tear down what we don’t want to be. We must wreck our prison. And it must be done by our own hands. WE must break down the walls. WE must do the work ourselves. We painstakingly built that prison over years of resentment and hurt. No one can tear it down but us. This is a tough step on the path. The shearing away of the very things we have learned to live with can be unsettling. Initially we want to hang on to these things because we don’t know anything else. But you MUST tear it down. Destroy it COMPLETELY. Clear the space. You are about to start building again.

The third thing is:

Only replace the building with a slab.

What do I mean by this? The prison was an enclosed space. My prison limited my ability to care for others. It stunted my ability to love, to be happy, to be at peace. I created a limited space for good emotion in my life. Remember the inch and a half of empathy? It’s because my prison was so small. If we spend the time to tear down our walls, why limit ourselves by building more? You see, if we replace our prison with a slab, or foundation, of love, peace, joy, caring…empathy…we don’t need walls. We don’t WANT walls. We want the foundation of all things good and we want the unlimited ability to feel and care. We don’t want to limit ourselves emotionally anymore. And this is HUGE. Once you begin to understand what it’s truly like to love, you won’t want to go back. You will see the prison you’ve lived in and you will vow to NEVER. GO. BACK.

The fourth thing:


When you break a bone, you go to a doctor. When you do your taxes, you go to a tax professional. When you build a house, you go to a builder. Why then, are so many men against going to a counselor? Why do they shun the opportunity to get help from someone who has spent YEARS learning how to help people? Maybe it’s the stigma of weakness. Maybe it is society’s misguided sense of masculinity. You’re a man, suck it up. Yeah…how’s that working out for you? I’ll tell you how it was working for me.

"I got a life that most would love to have

But sometimes I still wake up fightin’ mad"

If you really want to get help, then GET HELP. We often won’t receive correction or truth from our spouses. We are too close. There is too much history. Too much baggage to receive this – even when they are correct. It’s a blessing to be able to speak with someone who is not involved in your daily life. Think about it. This person has no agenda except to HELP you. The question is why wouldn’t you go?

You are believing a lie if you think you can walk the path of restoration alone. I know from experience that you can get honest by yourself. I know you can understand how and why you built that prison. But you cannot tear it down by yourself. Sure, you can replace a couple of the bricks on your own. Remember though, we aren’t into replacement. We are into destroying and wiping that prison from the earth. You can’t do that on your own.

Get over yourself. Don’t you want to love your wife deeper? Don’t you want to show your children a love so deep that they will trust you forever? Don’t you want to have stronger friendships? Don’t you want to help other people? The only way you can do that is to help yourself. It’s the only way you can love freely. It’s the only way you can be restored.

Do you know what being restored feels like? It is waking with love and peace. It’s spending more time singing a different song by Tim. One with the lines:

"And I loved deeper And I spoke sweeter And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying"

Take the journey. Walk the path. Free yourself.

Scott has laid out the explanations and Biblical foundations for each of the Three Pillars of Manhood. They will be released originally as blog posts. If you want to know more, subscribe and contact Scott through his website banishedfromeden.com/




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