Though we may not be locked up in a cell, we are all prisoners to something, argues former convict Brett Moran. But we can be freed

Have you ever been inside a prison? Nothing you’ve seen in the movies or on TV can prepare you for the cold concrete floors, the grey lifeless walls, and the fear that shudders down your spine when the crew slams the door shut and locks away your freedom. Still, prison was the best thing that ever happened to me. It gave me the window of opportunity I needed to look inside myself.

But let’s face it: most people are doing time, one way or another. They might not be inside a cell, but they are locked away by their own negative and limiting thinking.

I had two paths appear to me locked behind bars: heroin or spirituality. It turns out that the latter was more addictive and it sucked me in for good. Now, after 15 years of personal transformation, I have stumbled across the obvious. Deep down, we all crave a spiritual connection to unconditional love.

Whether we are drug addicts, criminals, city bankers, politicians or famous Hollywood actors, we all long for more affection and a deeper connection, but we don’t know how to get it. Love is probably one of the simplest concepts to experience, but the hardest to grasp.

Most people who end up in prison are simply products of their environments and past circumstances. Maybe they were abandoned, abused, disconnected or felt alone. Even a lack of cuddles can send a kid down the wrong path.

I had two paths appear to me behind bars: heroin or spirituality. It turns out that the latter was more addictive

Don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning any criminal behaviour. I for one know you have to take 100 per cent responsibility for your actions if you want to change any area of your life. But locking people up when they do not even understand why they behave the way they do is never going to create the long lasting change we all want to see in the world.

Think about it: when a teacher asks little Johnny what he wants to be when he grows up, he is not going to answer: “A drug dealing criminal, Miss. I want to escape my reality, get smashed and lose myself in a world of chaos.”

No one plans that kind of future for themselves. So why do we still have more than 80,000 people banged up in prison each year, and more than 400,000 people with serious drug issues?

I think it comes down to the fact that we are all trying to fill a deeper void within us. Some take the road of crime and drugs, while others strive for material success and external beauty. From gambling to shopping, social media or booze: we have become a nation of addicts.

Our fast-paced society is taking us further away from the truth. We have so much stuff and wealth, so many gadgets and choices, but is any of it making us any happier? Does it fulfil us at a deeper level?

I have learned the hard way that the only way out is to look within. Prison taught me that. So next time we hear, read or think about those nasty criminals, let’s shift our paradigm and see them as lost children who are simple looking for love.

Brett Moran is a life coach and author. He is also a former drug addict, dealer and young offender.

Photo: Alex Dixon Photography