Escaping to Imagination Land, and its Consequences
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When I was a child, I used to lay in bed at night and as I was about to go to sleep I developed this technique of doing positive visualization or imagination to basically lull myself to sleep. So I would lay there and imagine my future life, the house I would live in, my future husband, how we’d meet etc. until I basically went into a state of unconsciousness and eventually fell asleep. I spent a lot of my childhood and early adult years being afraid or sad before going to sleep, so lulling myself to sleep this way became a way to soothe myself, as being alone in the dark would otherwise trigger anxiety and sadness within me.
Fast forward to today, I’ve been having an issue with severe pain in my hands over the past year or so and it has gotten so bad that I wake up with terrible pain in the middle of the night and can’t fall asleep again. The pain is of the nature where the hand feels like it is sleeping, it is incapacitated and feels totally numb. I can barely grab things or for example operate the keys on my phone with my fingers. But at the same time, it is like this numbness comes from or correlates with an experience of having way too much energy surging through the hands, because it basically feels like I’m being electrified on the inside, causing me to feel completely numb on the outside.
I asked a friend who is also a kinesologist for a consultation on my pain, to see if she could help with identifying any mind points that might be causing or contributing to my pain experience (I’m also going to the doctor again, but last time I went everything checked out fine).
So in consulting with my friend over several sessions, she showed me that the point has to do with a mental loop or infinite ping pong match of sorts between a negative foundation experience of myself and a positive imagination ‘cover-up’ that I use to not have to face my general negative experience of myself. I use positive imagination to suppress and hide my negative experience of myself, my sadness, my self-judgment.
The first immediate reference I could see, also because this pain in my hands is worst at night, is to this habit I have had of using positive visualization to lull myself to sleep. But really when I look at it, I’ve created an entire larger pattern of immediately using positivity as something soothing to suppress the negative inside me, whether I fear it or don’t want to face myself as it.
What comes up now as I write this is that this is not unlike how many parents give their children a pacifier or a piece of candy to get them to stop crying. I’ve recently discussed this with my partner in fact in relation to our daughter because I could see how, when she was sad and crying I would feel so bad in my heart for her, so I would start saying these soothing things and ‘shower’ her with love, like “Oh no, don’t cry baby. You’re ok. Mama loves you”. My partner on the other hand would go very upbeat and would try to distract our daughter from her pain/crying by trying to make her laugh/feel happy. It was quite interesting to see how both our strategies was to use positivity to get her to stop feeling sad/in pain/cry.
As I had investigated this point before and knew that it isn’t supportive for children, I then discussed it with my partner and together we looked at the potential consequences of us using positivity as a way to deal with sadness/pain/crying – and how it would be much more supportive to stand as an example of stability for our daughter and show her how she can remain stable and breathe through the pain/emotions.
But it is interesting how our first instinct (because that’s what we’ve been brought up with as children ourselves) is to respond to negativity with positivity, which, rather than being aimed at neutralizing the negativity is wanting to push it down – make it go away basically. When you do this, you don’t learn to deal with or look at the negative experience. You only learn that it is bad and dangerous and must be pushed away. And you learn that the positive will make the bad feelings go away.
As I kept investigating my own relationship between positive imagination and negative self-experiences, I could see how this is a pattern I’ve developed to a rather extreme degree, almost as a form of OCD, where, as soon as I experience anything negative inside myself, I immediately look to a positive experience to push it down. It could be food, watching TV series, speaking with someone or doing positive visualizations inside my mind.
Looking at a solution here, it is about stop trying to run away from facing what is inside me and to develop supportive tools of handling and embracing what comes up inside me or in my world – without running away from it/pressing it down being my go-to strategy.
Another experience perfectly related to this one that I’ve had in the past is an experience of finally getting ‘above water’, as though I am in a constant state of drowning (negativity) and then once in a while, I manage to get myself above water (feeling good/positive) and then I desperately want to stay there and want to believe it is real, and so I desperately flax my arms to stay above water, but eventually sink down below the surface again as my newfound state of positivity wasn’t real or substantiated in reality. While I am there, I convince myself it is real (because it would be so much easier) and I try to maintain this state for as long as possible – but it never lasts.
This also correlates with another experience I’ve had (this is the ping-pong I talked about earlier) of being stretched – or compartmentalized, in a tension field between this positive self-definition that’s like a veneer on the surface and a negative undercurrent experience of negativity. What I hadn’t realized however was that this positive experience existed with the sole purpose of holding the negative in check – and keeping it alive.
Here, I am somehow reminded of the Osho Zen tarot card called “The burden” which shows an image of a man carrying another man, that remarkably resembles him. The man who is being carried is pointing sternly to a direction in the distance while the man carrying him is looking completely exhausted. They’re walking up a mountain. Meanwhile a rooster sits on top the man who points his finger. The man below is dressed in rags while the one he is carrying is dressed in proper clothes like a noble man or something.
“A man’s true life is the way in which he puts off the lie imposed by others on him. Stripped, naked, natural, he is what he is. This is a matter of being, and not of becoming. The lie cannot become the truth, the personality cannot become your soul. There is no way to make the nonessential the essential. The nonessential remains nonessential and the essential remains essential, they are not convertible. And striving towards truth is nothing but creating more confusion.
The truth has not to be achieved. It cannot be achieved, it is already the case. Only the lie has to be dropped. All aims and ends and ideals and goals and ideologies, religions and systems of improvement and betterment, are lies. Beware of them. Recognize the fact that, as you are, you are a lie. Manipulated, cultivated by others. Striving after truth is a distraction and a postponement. It is the lie’s way to hide.
See the lie, look deep into the lie of your personality. Because to see the lie is to cease to lie. No longer to lie is to seek no more for any truth–there is no need. The moment the lie disappears, truth is there in all its beauty and radiance. In the seeing of the lie it disappears, and what is left is the truth.”
Osho This Very Body The Buddha Chapter 6
Interestingly enough I am also reminded by a different Osho Zen tarot card. This one is called Trust and it is my favorite card in the whole deck because of its image. It shows a figure, maybe a woman, or a child jumping into the unknown with open arms. All we can see of the unknown is a warm pinkish color and to me there’s always been this inner movement to this card, like I can see/feel myself taking this jump and it is extremely liberating.
So what does these two cards have to do with one another? Isn’t trust exactly about letting go of the burden of the past? The burden of control? Of thinking that I know where I am going. And the image that I relate so much to is about taking the leap into the unknown in/with trust that whatever happens, whatever is out there, I will land on my feet. The two images couldn’t be more different. One is about carrying an overload of unnecessary ideas and beliefs up a mountain, the other about taking a leap from that same mountain, letting go of the old and immersing oneself unconditionally in the new.
I forgive myself that I have not accepted and allowed myself to develop supportive and effective ways and methods of directing what comes up within me as thoughts, emotions and feelings and that I have instead accepted and allowed myself to abdicate that responsibility to the mind and within following the mind, use suppression as a tool to stay sane and functional in my every day life
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not forgive, and to, through and within self-respect, honor and love, direct and let go of my negative emotions of of shame, self-judgment, remorse, sadness and self-hate and self-loathing and that I have instead used positive imagination as the primary way through which I hide/hide from my emotions and negative experiences and emotions, where I, as soon as something comes up within me that I don’t want to face or fear facing, immediately turn to find something positive to focus on
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to resist letting go of my positive imagination and my ‘tricks’ to experience positivity because I fear that all I will be left with is the negative aspects of myself, not seeing, realizing or understanding that that is ALREADY what I am living with/within/as, and that all I am doing is playing a game of chasing my own tail in reverse, trying to escape something that is a part of me – AND that the only way to stop existing as these negative aspects, is to actually face – and embrace – myself as them so that I can change them from within
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to create what we in Danish call a “infinity machine” as a pattern that is created in such a way that it can keep going without requiring outside fuel/power as it is running on its own momentum and so become stuck within and as it – where I switch between going into extreme negatives to extreme positives to neutral, over and over, without even noticing, because I am too preoccupied with trying to stay in / sustain the positive and trying to forget/erase/get rid of the negative
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to see and accept myself as a permanently broken person who cannot be fixed, not realizing that seeing myself this way is a distinct manipulation and self-sabotage feature of the mind because it is like a ‘backdoor to holding backdoors open’ as being broken means that I can always use that as an excuse to not push myself or not change
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to create and live on a lie because I believe the truth about myself is not worth living, not seeing, realizing or understanding how event his ’truth’ about myself is a mentally constructed idea I have created about myself AND that I’ve to a certain extent made real through perpetuating and repeating it over and over
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to become addicted to self-loathing and a general negative experience of and relationship with myself because of the energy I generate within me when I participate in these emotions which has a thick dense intensity to it, a depth almost, like it is saturated and filled – and I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not consider how immersing myself in this energy could be a replacement for something that I am not living/giving to myself that is of life and support for me like real deep self-nurture and presence
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not realize, see or understand that the entire positive imagination and perception of myself that I’ve created in my mind is really nothing but a smoke screen behind which I hide the negative within myself; the shame, the remorse, the depression
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to think and believe that the solution to my negative ‘issues’ of how I see myself within/through negativity is that I have to become better, become a better person, not realizing how I am within that only perpetuating the negative image I have of myself as I am validating it – instead of dropping it all together and seeing and accepting myself as who I am – and correct the parts and aspects of myself that I see aren’t best for all, and celebrate and expand those that are
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to create and participate in a fantasy, projection and imagination about myself where I believe and convince myself that I am ‘the best’, that I am ‘perfect’ – that I then expect myself to be able to live up to and live out, and when I cannot because it is totally unrealistic, I go into a deep pit of self-hate and self-judgment, where I think and believe that I am a total failure
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize that I am setting myself up to fail by creating unrealistic expectations towards myself and by creating fantasies about my supposed grandeur
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to NOT live here in my immediate and direct reality and that I have instead created an addiction to fake realities in my mind that are based on fantasies, projections and imaginations and that I, because I have participated within them for so many years, aren’t even aware of anymore because it has become second nature to me to not be here
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize or be aware of the extent to which I am not here and that I am instead participating in fantasies, projections and imaginations in my mind
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to use fantasies, projections and imaginations as a way to escape facing what is here in and as my current reality as a child because I did not know how to handle what was happening and what I experienced inside, and that I have because of that created an addiction towards escaping in my mind, that is now catching up with me through the consequences I have created in my body because of it
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to trap myself in an addictive relationship with my imagination where I resist and refuse to let it go, because I use it to avoid facing myself here and avoid facing and dealing with things that are difficult or painful and so it has become something positive and safe within my mind, like a refuge I seek to to hide in
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to compromise my actual reality and the potential for creating the best possible life here, because I am addicted to projections, fantasies, and imaginations in my mind
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to hold myself – but even others to the standards of my imaginary self where I am perfect and optimal in all ways, and therefore set myself up to fail because I can’t possibly live up to my own expectations, yet they’ve become second nature to me as I use them to make myself feel better and so I create an infinity loop for myself that I can’t get out of
When and as I see that I am for a moment stepping out of my physical reality and into imagination/protection, I stop and I breathe and I bring myself back here by for example focusing on something in my physical reality with my eyes or my hands or through feeling my body
I realize that I’ve been using imagination/projection/fantasies as a method to escape facing what is here as myself and I realize that I cannot escape facing what is here as myself and so all I’ve done is to postpone that moment of facing myself and that I have in that process created consequences for myself by building up suppressed inner experiences that have compounded inside my body
I commit myself to take responsibility for facing myself here directly in my reality and with the tools of self-support I have available to me, support myself to walk through what I am facing – and to stop using imagination to try to escape what is here and make myself more than who I am a