One of the most intense feelings of helplessness comes when someone we love goes to prison. We can see the errors and flaws in them but we love them anyway. So, we try to help. But, no matter how hard we try we can't seem to get through to them. Once out of prison they try for a while but then they go back to their self-destructive behavior. Most end up going back to prison again and again. Frustrated, many of us give up but then feel guilty. Still , some of us keep trying but beat up on ourselves every time we fail. So the question is: Is there a way to help those we love reenter our lives that works, that actually brings our loved ones back to us for good?
Life and faith have taught me that we cannot change people against their will. This simple truth is key to what we can and cannot succeed at. But as we all know, the will to change isn't a simple thing. It's not simply a matter of wanting to or not wanting to. Change is a process that requires faith; belief that a course of action will be beneficial. So, in answer to the question, yes, there is a way to bring them back.
At 7-70 we believe that there are three keys to a successful reentry. Our goal is to understand these keys as they apply to our clients.
- The person must believe that their actions, behavior that lead to their incarceration were wrong. To change, a person must take responsibility for their actions, and believe that the consequences they faced are a just result. This is the most important and the most necessary thing to starting the process of change. If the person doesn't sincerely believe that they are responsible for their own problems, they will not succeed.
- Next, the person must see their current state of being as unacceptable and desire to change it. Some people believe that they can go on in their current lifestyles by hiding or avoiding the destructive parts. But that is an illusion. At some point the destructive behaviors will reveal themselves, dooming them to failure. To succeed, they must feel the need to change strongly enough to inspire positive action.
- A person must believe they can change. In my experience this is the hardest key. Some meet the first two keys only to stumble on this one. To them, success is something that happens to other people. They might think, "I was born this way" , or, "This who I am". These are perfect rationales for quitting and going back to their old ways.
The process of change is difficult. It is often road filled with detours and hazards. To make the successful trip, a person needs help in the form of a mentor to guide and coach them through the obstacles. A good mentor is someone who will try to meet them where they are and foster a trust relationship. A mentor isn't judgmental or won't chastise them when they fall but will give honest feedback and advice. After the hard work, the result is permanent change.
Change is a hard road. 7-70 is there to help any who wants to change to do so.