One Question Has Completely Triggered My Battle With Self-Worth

Craig Stanland
6 min readJun 1

I started journaling in the Otisville federal prison library.

I needed an outlet. I needed a safe place to process all the crap coursing through my brain.

I needed to get what was inside, out.

Nine years later, I rarely miss a day.

I used to count the days and brag about how many days in a row I’ve maintained this practice. The same with the other two practices I started in the Otisville federal prison library, meditation and gratitude.

They are practices I do for me, for my healing.

Succumbing to ego and fear were just some of the ingredients of the twisted cocktail that landed me in prison.

Bragging about how many days in a row I’ve practiced doesn’t serve my healing; it serves my ego.

The less I serve my ego, the richer with meaning my life has become.

Journaling, the way I do it now, does its best to strip away the ego. But, of course, it still arrives; I’m human, and my ego has a job to do — and it’s damn good at it.

I do my best to strip away all the BS; I do my best to push and go to the places I don’t want to go, to ask the questions I’m afraid to ask.

That’s been an amazing part of the practice, asking questions.

I listen to the voice within (the voice I ignored when I was committing fraud, the voice I ignored when I knew what to do to live the way I wanted to live but couldn’t find the courage to) and allow the sense of inquiry and exploration to wash over me.

This morning I was writing about a line I read last night before bed in David Brooks’s book, “The Road to Character.”

I can’t remember the line, but it was something about the hero and his scars. Or something like that.

Whatever was in that line, I can’t remember, triggered a question. So I do what I do and skipped down a few lines to isolate it, to give it the spotlight it deserves.

“Where can I follow my fear into the extraordinary?”

Life after prison isn’t easy.

Craig Stanland

I write about my journey from corporate success to federal prison and finding joy, mission, meaning, and fulfillment beyond professional and financial success.