After a spinal injury from a horse jumping accident, Christopher Reeve, the most beloved of the Superman actors, was confined to his wheelchair as a quadriplegic for nine years.
Reeve said that when he dreamt at night, he always saw himself as able-bodied and free — never in his wheelchair. When the interviewer asked him if that made him feel saddened when he woke up, he said that actually, it spurred him on. It buoyed his spirits to dream about what was currently impossible.
So I tried this out for myself. I’m a big thinker who’s rather pragmatic. And I started noticing that my dream muscles were feeling a bit stiff. I wasn’t dreaming as vividly about my future as I wanted to. So I started doing an impossibility exercise. And it limbered up my hope and my vision. And it felt gooood.
Tips for extreme visualization
Sit still for five minutes or more, close your eyes and visualize something that you can’t do. Something that is really impossible. Forget the motivational, “There’s no such thing as impossible!” crap. There are some things that are really and truly obviously impossible for you this lifetime. Like flying. Like being a trapeze artist in spite of your back injury. Like scaling a mountain, having seven babies, being the Superbowl-winning Quarterback, selling out Madison Square Garden, being president, walking the runway.
Choose to see yourself being awesome at something you severely suck at. Or pull up that dream you had from way back when but the window of opportunity is like, so closed, and blow it up larger than life.
I once visualized winning Olympic gold medals for swimming AND women’s figure skating. I’m actually part feline, so swimming is not my first choice for rapture, and I haven’t been on a pair of skate blades in years. (I grew up in a hockey arena, so I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to warm my bones.) But when I picture myself careening through water with stealth grace, and doing a triple axle in a neck-plunging sequined number — well that makes me lighten up. And that’s good. And it confuses my logical lizard brain. And that’s good.
And when you lighten up and your logic gets shuffled, your visionary capacity has some space to expand.
When you visualize impossibilities, you make way for plausible awesomeness to enter your thinking. And then new ideas and magnetic energy start to flow in.
Go big. Bring it on back home. xo
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