Creating a vision in your mind and fulfilling it in real life is a powerful experience.
In the movie Avatar the main character, Jake, is paralyzed from the waist down. Eventually he is transformed into a finely tuned, nearly perfect, scientifically created Avatar. As an Avatar he quickly learns to fly sitting atop a giant sized dinosaur looking bird.
As Jake and the bird soar and dive at extraordinary speeds, Jake becomes consumed with joy, for as he tells us at the start of the movie, all his life he had wanted to fly. His dream had come true.
Dreams are remarkable when they envision a seemingly helpless condition being overcome to accomplish a real and extraordinary outcome. Even though Avatar is a science fiction movie, it speaks truthfully about the human condition – especially my condition.
I am Jake
I was seven years old when I was stricken with a crippling virus called ‘Polio’. It left me with one leg smaller and weaker than the other. As a result I walked with a noticeable limp.
Even with this limitation my all consuming desire was to be an athlete. And although my handicap severely limited my ability to succeed early on in almost all sports, I continued to envision a day of athletic achievement.
Miraculously, by the time I reached twelfth grade, my vision had won out. I was starting forward on my high school water polo team, and a varsity swimmer. I had held a national age group swim record. I was elected President of the high school Varsity Club – an exclusive club reserved for varsity athletes, and I was the head varsity Yell King.
Commitment to my vision of athletic achievement brought me to a moment of triumph. I had in my own way become an Avatar. Ever since that personal victory, I have continued to create visions.
Suffering from Repression
Creating visions and pulling reality through them has been what I do best, and what I have been doing the longest and what I believe in most.
However, everything has its residual effects; its waste products if you will. For me it was Repression. Repression is when you suppress bad memories and have flash backs of them at a later time.
For example, on a recent trip to Southern California my wife and I were driving along the coast when we pulled off to look at the ocean crashing up against a long narrow jetty extending hundreds of yards out into the water.
As I looked at the spray of the waves going high into the air as they hit the huge jetty rocks, I had a flash back. It was the summer before I went into the tenth grade. Two of my friends and I were skin diving off of a similar jetty also in Southern California.
For some reason I had to stop diving and climb up and sit on one of the rocks. I think I had broken my spear. My two friends continued diving for fish. That experience seemed to deepen their friendship and left me odd man out.
Until that day with my wife, I can’t ever remember thinking about that experience. But, it was as clear as if it had just happened. It hurt me to think about it. The joy of the moment with my wife had been interrupted by the return of this repressed memory.
Flash backs have occurred frequently during my life. They almost always resulted in me feeling down emotionally.
How does one overcome Repression?
I don’t know that you can completely overcome repression, especially if you are a serious vision creator. It may be the price one has to pay for creating visions that overcome the limitations of life. After all, in vision creation one is challenging the reality of life as it exists. It’s no wonder then that this kind of person might be subject to the repression of painful memories.
But that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try to face the problem of repression and improve things, especially if it consistently interferes with the joy one should have over the achievements of life. At least that is the conclusion I reached.
The most important activity I’ve ever engaged in is creating vision in my mind and then seeing them come true. Like Jake, I’m soaring inside when it happens. I am happy, happy as can be. For this reason, I’m not willing to let repression take that away from me. I will fight and confront the demons of flash backs.
This is how I do it. When a flash back occurs instead of trying to ignore it, I hold on to it. Then I share it with someone I trust. I then begin to analyze it by asking questions. At about this point the memory usually loses power and starts to slip away.
Let’s use the skin diving example to illustrate what I’m talking about. One, when the skin diving flash back happened, I focused on it. I turned to my wife and said, “I just had a flash back.” I describe it to her and explained it was painful.
I then started asking myself questions about the experience. “Did these two guys ever know that I felt like the odd man out?”
“No”, I answered. “I never told them”.
“Did they exclude you from any activities after that”?
“No”, I answered again. “By the end of the tenth grade, one of them had moved, and the other guy and I continued to swim and play water polo together for the next two years.
By this time I couldn’t even think of a third question to ask myself. The experience seemed to deflate and then to slip away. No absolutely completely, but enough so that it no longer had the sting it did when I first experienced it.
I could feel myself beginning to relax and simultaneously returning to the pleasant time I was having with my wife.
I have always had the feeling that my life was meant to be filled with joy. When it hasn’t I have fought to get it.
Of the several things that habitually have held my happiness back, repression has probably been the major one. Repressing bad memories have visited me later as flash backs, which lead to feelings of depression and inadequacy.
I believe that in part I am responsible for creating my repression. For since my youngest years I have engaged in denying my handicaps by creating internal visions in my mind that saw me overcoming them.
I accomplished this by repressing experiences associated with my limitations and replacing them with visions or mental images of myself as having triumphed over them.
As the mental images began to come true in real life, my personal joy intensified, but so too did painful flash backs.
I realized that in blocking out unpleasant experiences associated with my handicap, I had not done away with them; I had merely neglected to face them. And, because I did not want my joy of accomplishment through vision creation to be overwhelmed by the anxiety of the flash backs, I decided to confront these demons.
As I did, I began to receive insights that helped. For one, I realized that the mind inflates memories – makes them bigger than they really are. Bringing them out into the open right sizes them. After that, they tend to lose their power to create intense personal stress.
When that happens the nice feeling created by the victories of life intensify. For me that kind of happiness has been worth fighting for. I am like Jake, flying high!