A fascinating passage in the Course’s original dictation explains why we feel imprisoned by other people. It begins by saying, “No one can be ‘taken over’ unless he wills to be.” Then it says, however, that we can freely elect to place our minds “under tyranny”—the tyranny of the ego. Now we feel imprisoned because we ourselves have set up a tyrant within. It goes on to say,
Even in very mild forms, this kind of association is risky, and may spread quite unexpectedly, particularly under external stress. This is because it can be internally controlled only if external conditions are peaceful.
Even though we feel imprisoned by the tyrant within, we can control this and feel relatively free, but only if external conditions are peaceful. When they turn to stressful, the sense of imprisonment spreads, and suddenly we feel completely imprisoned, as if we have no freedom whatsoever. The problem, though, isn’t the external stressors. It is the dormant belief within which has now flared up. Now we see the inner tyrant looking back at us from every face, and everyone we see wears a prison guard uniform.
This is not safe, because external conditions are produced by the thoughts of many, not all of whom are pure in heart as yet. Why should you be at their mercy?
If our sense of imprisonment can be kept at bay only when things are rosy outside, we’re in trouble, “because external conditions are produced by the thoughts of many, not all of whom are pure in heart as yet.” This, of course, is a vast understatement. It is more like, “External conditions are dreamt up by a great many minds, most of whom can be currently likened to a pit of vipers.” This makes the final question all the more insistent. Indeed, why should we be at their mercy? This also makes the following passage all the more liberating.
You are perfectly unaffected by all expressions of lack of love. These can be either from yourself and others, or from yourself to others, or from others to you.
You might want to repeat this in the first person and apply it to some specific expressions of lack of love you feel imprisoned by. Give yourself permission to feel complete freedom from all forms of tyranny.