There is much talk and speculation about the power of positive thinking and methods of practicing it. A commonly overlooked element in this practice is embodying the visualized positive mantras. I first grasped the enormity of the gap between thoughts and action the year my fledgling business, Cappy’s Boxing Gym Seattle, turned five.
Starting a small business is an act of love, dedication and vision. It takes a tremendous amount of mental, physical and emotional fortitude. There has to be some system of positive, forward thinking, or the journey would not unfold. At five years, my business was steadily growing. It was a boxing gym destined for great things. I knew this inwardly, though I didn’t know exactly how this would come about. I knew from my first business, Star Painting, that my love for house painting wasn’t enough. There came a time when I had to be passionate about the science of painting houses, marketing, administrative structure. I never made it through this phase. With the boxing gym, I was determined to love every part of the business growth. This focus helped me give over to the business, let it be my teacher, my guide, my boss.
However, at the five year mark, when outwardly all signs were positive, the business was well on its way to growing up, I noticed an unsettling exchange between the outer me and the inner me. Every time I layered, wove into the fabric of the business bits and pieces of my knowledge and innovative wisdom, I could hear a very distinctive voice say, “You can’t know that.” The voice didn’t seem to have a body, but it had the kind of authority that does not allow questioning.
I listened to the voice mostly because I couldn’t ignore it. I named what I was going through the Schism Gap. There was the me who clearly was in the process of building the gym from the inside out, and the person who absolutely knew it was not possible for me to be doing such a thing. I was not supposed to know what I knew, was not supposed to envision a business that trained people to use the punch path for personal growth and healing purposes.
The Schism Gap got more terrible. The disembodied voice slowly became embodied, and the stress of having two people — the positive, forward moving businessman and the protected shut down person - in the same body was, at times, unbearable. There seemed nothing to do. I couldn’t silence the voice telling me I didn’t have the knowledge I claimed to have. I couldn’t cover this part of me up, or kill it off. It was far too strong of a presence. The worst part is, I was really that person, and that person didn’t actually have conversations with the outward, positive achiever. I didn’t feel I lived in the body of the outer achiever.
At this time I had used visualization, mostly from a sports minded perspective. I didn’t think of myself as a negative minded person, so I hadn’t pursued that aspect of positive visualization. The scared, shut down person that seemed to be my true body, wasn’t negative so much as deeply determined to protect me. So it didn’t work to quiet down the fear with positive thoughts. Finally, I had a break through. I realized I could feel the shut down, scared person and I could not feel the outer, confident person. I knew the outer person had a body — heck he showed up every day to take care of business, went home every night, handled the ups and down with relative calm. I felt I lived in the person who was frightened of being uncovered, exposed. This body shape was contorted, constricted, congested. There were huge chunks of frozen feelings, lots of veering away sensations, trying to hide, get away, close all the hatches. I realized it was a trauma survivor’s body, and that body was one I was very familiar with. I lived there. I had done a good job delegating this part of me to a long forgotten closet, but the nature of my unfolding business had finally unlocked the closet door and it was time to let this person out. Let him grow up.
I decided to use a tic tac toe type grid to represent what was the baseline for calm and confident. Though I couldn’t actually feel my confident body, I could feel the scared body. So, I embarked on a journey to help this person grow up, release long held hurts and fears. I increased my ability to access this body and feel its off-the-grid shape. I hung out in this feeling/shape and visualized the grid simultaneously. Can’t lie, it was very tough going at times. But I persevered. If the gym was going to be a self awareness hub where people used their training to clear the punch path and heal old hurts stored in the body, somebody had to take the lead.
Visualization works at a much deeper level than just reinforcing positive thoughts. It is a muscle that, as it gains strength and flexibility, can uphold the truth of the present. You are not in your past, old hurts and fears held in the body can be released. Feel the shape of the fear body, the defensive body, the angry body, and visualize the centered grid where the calm confident you resides. Use the power of your mind to get back to center, to calm down, live in a relaxed yet ready-for-action body instead of a frightened, protected body.