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This week’s Cracking Open Podcast episode with Shaka Senghor is so effing good!


(I actually wanted to write the F word, but I still feel a bit scared doing it – hello old Catholic schoolgirl guilt!)


There are so many gems in this episode but one of my biggest takeaways is the importance of standing in your truth.


Shaka shares his story with us about his own reckoning and realization that he initially wasn’t living his truth. Instead, he was living out an interpretation of his life rooted in his trauma. This trauma-informed life eventually led him into a 19-year imprisonment for 2nd-degree murder, seven of those years which were in solitary confinement.


These dire circumstances would understandably crush most people’s spirits. But Shaka was able to use this experience to uncover his own truth, envision a different future for himself, and hit the reset button on his true destiny.


I don’t think there are many people in this world who can say that they were able to find their ultimate freedom in a system that is designed to take every freedom away from you. But then again, there aren’t many people like Shaka Senghor.


The deep vulnerability that a life of imprisonment creates forced Shaka into prolonged states of introspection and contemplation. In solitary confinement, he found his passion for reading and writing, and was particularly taken with Socrates’ words, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” 


While examining his own life, he realized that he wanted to reclaim his authentic self, and vowed that going forward he would only live in the world in a way that honored his truth. Shaka asked himself the question, “How did I get here?”  And it was this question that changed his life and ultimately became a catalyst for getting him out of prison.


In the decade since Shaka’s release from prison, he has garnered multiple awards and fellowships, has lectured at universities, and has both started and worked with nonprofits seeking to lift people up.


Shaka has also visited the White House, been interviewed by Trevor Noah and Oprah Winfrey, given TED talks, and published two amazing books – Writing my Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison, and Letters to the Sons of Society: A Father’s Invitation to Love, Honesty, and Freedom.


I hope that today’s episode inspires you to have some deeper conversations with yourself about living your own truth. Here are some questions to contemplate:


Are you honoring your truth?


Are you living a life based on your trauma, or on a story that does not serve you anymore?


How can you step out of your secrets into an examined life of truth?





Learn more about Shaka Senghor here

Purchase Shaka’s book Letters to the Sons of Society here

Purchase Shaka’s book Writing My Wrongs here

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