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S2 EP137 – Feeling Trapped? Set Yourself Free!

Episode Summary

Do you feel trapped in some area of your life – trapped in your relationship, trapped in your work, trapped financially or with family issues or in a friendship? Do you feel trapped by your own procrastination and resistance? It’s time to free yourself!


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding podcast. Today I’m talking about getting yourself un-trapped if you feel trapped in some area of your life. Once again, Dr. Erika Chopich, co-creator of Inner Bonding, suggested this topic, so I asked her to speak about it, and here is what she said:

“I hear so often now, especially since COVID, people complaining about feeling trapped. When they say ‘God I feel so trapped!’ I always ask them ‘What do you feel trapped by?’ and invariably, they will point to something external, such as, ‘I feel trapped by my job’ or ‘I feel trapped with money’ or ‘I feel trapped by my family problems,’ or something like that. Yet from my place of observation, I can see clearly that it’s not anything external that’s trapping the people. I can see that the values and false beliefs they adopted from their parents, which are often repeated over and over, is one of the things that traps them.

“What so often entraps people is the past and their unconscious determination to keep repeating the past. It often doesn’t come from a person or situation – it comes from you if you are responding to the same beliefs, values and the same stimuli as from the past. If you keep coming from the same values and the same repeated responses, you entrap yourself further and further without realizing it. You’ll blame something external, something exogenous, but it’s often not that. It’s often endogenous, which means it is coming from within you.

“As we grow spiritually and emotionally it’s meant to be that our value system shifts, and our belief system shifts and morph into something Higher.

“I notice that the feeling of being trapped is coming from the same response they seem to have to everything. They believe it’s outside themselves, that something outside has grabbed them and wrestled them to the ground and won’t let them up! But that is the false belief of the wounded self. Nothing and no one can trap you without your participation.

‘This process of feeling trapped and hanging on to values and beliefs that no longer serve you well is mostly unconscious. In order to free yourself from whatever you imagine is trapping you, you have to ask the questions ‘What is in my highest good? Is this belief serving me well? Is this my parents’ belief and value that I have adopted?’ What may have been true for your parents is likely no longer true for you as an individual. The feeling of being trapped is a red flag, a sign that you need to update your belief system towards growth and especially towards love.

“One of the top entrapments I hear about every day is people feeling trapped in their jobs. With all the extreme job opportunities that exist today, there is no reason not to reach for your dream job or a job that captures your imagination, or something you always wanted to do. Let yourself out of the trap and pursue those beautiful dreams and those beautiful passions.

“Sometimes someone complains about being trapped in their relationship because they have two young kids and their husband is the wage earner and there’s not enough money to leave, but with the Internet today there’s so many ways of creating income online if you’re willing to open and be creative. They feel trapped by not having childcare because it’s too expensive and daycare is too expensive, but with so many people being able to work at home now, there’s no reason why somebody couldn’t tune into their passion and create an income while they’re at home taking care of their kids.

‘People who adopt biases and prejudices from their parents are often locked into a way of being that has no room for expansion. They fail to see the beauty in other cultures and the wisdom in other cultures or in another gender and cannot grow beyond that. We were not born with any bias or prejudice. We were born to love and that includes self-love and love of God, love of family, love of our planet and its people.

‘Your bias and your prejudice lock you into one small way of being, and this becomes entrapping, even socially. I see the young people in our barn who hang out with the same type of people over and over, seek out the same kind of entertainment over and over, eat the same foods over and over, and then complain that their life is becoming boring and entrapping. I encourage them to seek out festivities held by other cultures right here where we live – to participate in and explore their dances, their different music, their different foods and flavors and their different beliefs.

“It’s the difference that adds the color to our life and ignites our imagination. Imagination is one of the pathways out of entrapment. If you’re tired of your life’s routine over and over and over day after day, then it’s simply time to change your routine and your life into something that works for you. That is what freedom is and no one is taking that away from you ever without your permission. You get to design any life you want by using your imagination and your creativity.”

I always feel blessed that I get to pick Erika’s creative brain!

How often do you find yourself limiting your own freedom and feeling trapped because you are afraid that someone will get mad at you, disapprove of you, or leave you?

Tiffany consulted with me because she was unable to control her anger. Anytime someone told her what to do – someone she was in a close relationship with like her mother, her husband, or her best friend – she would instantly respond with anger. She was struggling with serious marital problems when she first consulted with me.

“Tiffany, what happens inside when someone tells you what to do?” I asked.

“I immediately feel trapped, like I’m being put into a cage,” she said.

“What are you telling yourself that makes you feel so trapped?” I asked.

“That I have to do what they are telling me to do, even if I don’t want to do it,” she said.

“And why do you believe that you have to do it? What are you afraid will happen if you don’t do it?”

“They will go away,” she answered.

“And then what?” I asked.

“I won’t be okay,” she said

“So,” I said, “you are telling yourself that you have to do what they want, or they will go away, and you will not be okay. Is this really true that you won’t be okay? Are you certain that you won’t be okay?”

As we explored this, Tiffany discovered a little girl inside who believed she would not be okay if people left.

She saw that as an adult this was no longer true – that it was a false belief from her past, but that she was acting as if it was still true. As Erika said, she was stuck in her past with the false belief that she wouldn’t be okay if someone left.

“If you operate from knowing that you will be okay if someone leaves, how does that make a difference if someone tells you what to do?” I asked her.

“Well, then I can see that I’m no longer trapped. I can say yes or no rather than having to say yes to control how they feel about me. I think that if I didn’t feel trapped due to my fear of their leaving, I wouldn’t feel angry.”

“So,” I said, “what has been trapping you and putting you in a cage is not their demand, but your belief that they will go away if you say no and then you will not be okay. You are the one limiting your freedom, not them, is that right?”

“Yes,” she said, “I can really see that. I think if I can remember that I will be okay if they go away, I will not be angry at them. You’re right – I’m the one trapping me, not them!”

I often hear my clients say to me, “I can’t do what I want to do because he or she wouldn’t like it.”

How often do you find yourself limiting your own freedom because you are afraid that someone will get mad at you, disapprove of you, or leave you? Are you convinced that you will not be okay if someone is angry, disapproving, or rejecting of you? How often do you give yourself up and not do what you want, trying to control how another feels so they will approve of you? How often do you respond to another’s demands or requests with anger, resentment, withdrawal, or resistance, because you immediately feel trapped by their request or demand? And how much of this is connected to what you experienced growing up? How much are you operating from the past?

Knowing that, as an adult, your worth and well-being is not dependent upon someone else’s love or approval is a key to setting yourself free. As long as you believe that you need someone else’s love and approval to be okay – to be worthy, to be a good person, to be lovable, to survive – you are trapping yourself and will likely feel angry. No one likes to feel trapped, yet most people believe that it is the other person’s behavior or a situation that is trapping them, rather than their own false beliefs.

If there is violence involved, and you are limiting your freedom due to fear of someone else’s violent behavior, then you need to find a way to leave the situation. If you need help doing this, then find a way to get the help. Again, you do not have to trap yourself by staying in a relationship with someone who verbally or physically violates you for your choices. Allowing this and staying trapped comes from your false belief that you need someone else’s love and approval to be okay, when the truth is that you need your own love and approval to be okay.

Many clients tell me they feel trapped in their lives, but what is really happening is that they are trapped by their own procrastination and resistance.

“I can’t seem to stop snacking,” said Linda, in one of our sessions. “And I can’t figure out why. I don’t overeat during meals, but then I snack on things that I don’t need to be eating. I’ve had this issue on and off since adolescence and I want to resolve it.”
“Linda, right now, take yourself back to the last time you snacked. See if you can tune into what was going on and what you were feeling.”

“It happened a lot this last weekend” she said. “I had some work I needed to get done and I didn’t want to do it. Snacking is a way of putting it off for a bit.”

“So you were in resistance to getting the work done, is that right?” I asked.

“Yes, that’s what was going on,” Linda said.

“What is the feeling inside when you have to do something you don’t want to do?” I asked.

“I feel trapped,” she said.

“Do you often feel trapped in your life?” I asked her.

“Now that you are asking – yes. I feel trapped a lot. I feel trapped in my job, which I don’t like. I feel trapped when my husband asks me to do things. I often feel trapped by our money situation. I feel trapped when I have to answer email. Sometimes I even feel trapped by my children’s needs.”

“Is this when you snack?” I asked her.

“Yes! Now that I’m thinking about it, it’s always about getting out of feeling trapped for a few minutes. But then I end up feeling trapped in my body because I don’t like what I weigh!”

I knew exactly what Linda was talking about, as I used to feel trapped in my life a lot, and I had also learned to turn to various addictions to resist feeling trapped. Whenever I saw something as a “have to” rather than a “want to,” I felt trapped.

“Linda,” I said, “I know the sensation of feeling trapped and wanting to find some way out. What I’ve learned to do is to shift my thinking from telling myself that I ‘have to’ do something, to seeing it as an opportunity to love myself and others. When I shift from ‘have to’ to asking, “What is my opportunity to love right now?” the trapped feeling goes away and the resistance dissolves.

“For example, right now, imagine opening your email and asking yourself, ‘What is my opportunity to love right now?’ What comes to mind?”

“The first thing that comes to mind,” she said, “is that I can send out kind and caring emails to the people who are reaching out to me.”

“What do you usually tell yourself when people reach out to you?” I asked her.

“I feel annoyed that now I have to answer them,” she replied.

“How does it feel to tell yourself that this is an opportunity to be kind and caring?”

“Wow, it’s amazing!” she said. “When I tell myself that I have to answer them, the first thing I want to do is get up and snack. I can see that telling myself that I ‘have to’ sets me up for feeling trapped and resistant. But when I tell myself that this is an opportunity to be kind and caring, I feel great, and I look forward to answering the emails. I think that if I can remember to do this every time there is something I need to do, I will probably be able to stop snacking.”

None of us like to feel trapped, and many people go immediately into resistance the moment they feel trapped. When you choose to see each situation in your life as an opportunity to love, and you open to learning about what would be loving, you will likely find that you no longer feel trapped.

I think it’s interesting that so many people find themselves resisting and procrastinating in order to not feel trapped and controlled, and then they end up feeling trapped and controlled by their resistance and procrastination!

Motivation gets stunted when resistance take over and then you might feel trapped in your life from a lack of motivation. If you have a fear of being controlled and losing yourself, you might then feel anxious and stressed over the fear being controlled, which also inhibits motivation.

People who had controlling parents often absorb their parent’s controlling voice into their wounded self and then constantly tell themselves what they ‘have to’ do. Then they resist being controlled by their own controlling wounded self! Talk about being stuck and trapped! But can you see that they are not really trapped in that no one is holding a gun to their head or tying them up and stopping them from taking loving action for themselves. They are trapping themselves by their own internal power struggle of trying to control what they do, and then resisting being controlled.

This fear of being controlled and losing yourself might transfer to your relationship with your higher guidance. You might find it impossible to surrender to being guided by your higher power for fear of being controlled and consumed by your guidance the way you might have been by your parents.

This pattern keeps people stuck in their healing process. It occurs when your fear of being controlled is so great that resistance becomes your identity, your essential way of interacting with the world. You may not even be aware of your resistance, but on some level, you believe you must have it to live, yet this may be what’s keeping you feeling trapped in your life.

If you often feel stuck and trapped in your life, you might notice if you experience any of these symptoms of resistance:

1. Being stuck: No matter how much therapy you have, how many different healing processes you try, how many self-help books you read or how many workshops you attend, you don’t feel better. Nothing is working. You feel trapped in your unhappiness, your relationships, and your work.

2. Having had controlling parents: One or both of your parents were controlling – invasive, overprotective, engulfing, consuming, physically or sexually abusive, shaming, or critical.

3. You say you want to change but you don’t meaningful action: You seem to have the best of intentions to really take care of yourself in new ways. You decide on some new actions you’ll take, but somehow you never seem to carry them out for more than a few days or a few weeks at the most.

4. You may be denying your real motivation: You say you want to change – to become loving, successful, happy, responsible, spiritually connected, slender, sober, healthy, on time, organized and so on, yet it never happens. You are in denial about the fact that you have a more important goal, which is not to be controlled by anyone or anything, not even by your own good intentions.

5. You might resent the goal: While you say you want to be loving, successful, responsible, healthy, organized and so on, you resent the very thing you say you want.

6. You get satisfaction out of others’ frustration with you: When people react negatively to your lack of action or your obstinate behavior, you feel gratified, like a rebellious adolescent who is winning the power struggle with his or her parents. You might even feel a gloating satisfaction when your therapist is not able to help you get un-trapped or unstuck.

You might want to question why having control over not being controlled is so important to you. How did resistance become so much more important than loving yourself? If your parents were extremely invasive and consuming in their attempts to control you, you might have felt overwhelmingly helpless, alone, and lonely. These are almost intolerable feelings, especially for a child. So you came up with little ways – or sometimes big ways – to resist your parents, to assert your power, to hang on to some tiny part of yourself. Over time, this resistance came to be the only thing that made you feel safe. You became addicted to it. Resisting became part of your identity.

The problem is that resistance keeps you trapped and can sabotage your relationships and your life.

This is a vicious circle and there is a way out! Inner Bonding to the rescue!

Moving out of feeling stuck and trapped and attaining a sense of freedom
result from developing a spiritually connected, loving adult self, who is able to make loving choices for you, set loving limits with others and freely give to others without feeling a loss of self. Practicing Inner Bonding heals the fears and false beliefs of the wounded self and develops a spiritually connected loving adult self. When you learn how to allow yourself to be guided by your higher guidance instead of your resistance wounded self, you will free yourself to take the loving actions you want and need to take to be all you came here to be.

I hope you join me for my 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”

You can learn so much about Inner Bonding from my recent books:

And we have much to offer you at our website at

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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