Sep 18, 2012 / by Alisa Hafen / No Comments

Before my accident I never really noticed the handicap spaces in parking lots. I didn’t pay much attention to the handicap stall in restrooms. The white-on-blue image of a stick-figure in a chair didn’t mean a thing to me. I didn’t identify with it. Now, however, I scan my world for that symbol because it represents a place for me. It tells me that someone has thought ahead of my needs, my physical requirements, and my comfort.

As our lives change, so do the visual images that we keep before us. This is an important concept to understand. Our success in life is determined by the mental images that create our future. What are the images of success in your mind? What models of achievement drive you? Those simple images have the power to transform the outcomes of your life. Place before you images that inspire success and guide you to greatness. Powerful images result in powerful accomplishments. This one principle changed my life.

As I lay in that hospital bed, shortly after my accident, the images of my future possibilities were bleak. Day after painful day, I struggled to get my physical body to move the way it once did, respond the way it once would, and to perform as I hoped it someday could. I was discouraged. I did not believe the words the doctors told me. I resisted the images of paralysis they painted. Those mental images haunted me. I did not want to look five or ten years into my future and visualize myself as sedentary, defeated, and immobile.

My new circumstance required a new image of success. We, as adults have a hard time shifting our conditioned mental images. We’ve thought so long in a certain way that sometimes it is almost impossible to stretch our imaginations, or our vision, past the logical and the reasonable. That’s why I love children. They aren’t stuck in old patterns because they haven’t lived long enough!

The night Doctor Ryzer released me from the intensive care unit, my two boys were able to see me. I had not even seen my son Kyler walk yet. He had taken his first steps the day I took my last. With confidence he trotted right into my room and tossed me a flower . . . then scurried back to his mother.

It was a wonderful, emotional reunion. My eldest son Christian, hopped right into bed with me, hiding his smile under the covers. All of a sudden, he exclaimed, “Daddy! You’re wearing a diaper!” I hadn’t realized that, but it was a huge awakening to my son! Resigned to the new reality, Christian comforted me. “That’s okay daddy. You can practice on Kyler’s port-a-potty.”

That little boy quickly replaced the images of the past with new images, new answers, new solutions. Not wanting to be separated from me again, Christian slept with me in my hospital bed. The next morning the nurse explained to him that she needed his help preparing me for my day. He was only three-years old. His whole life he had a father who dressed him. Who brushed his teeth and combed his hair. A father who fed him. But now our roles had changed. He would dress me. Guided by the nurse, little Christian changed my clothes and dressed me. He brushed my teeth. He shaved me. He even put cologne on my face. He chose Old Spice because he liked the boat on the bottle!

Not only were my images changing, but so were his. If either Christian or I had not been willing to see new possibilities, we would have been frustrated, scared, and discouraged.

Instead, we accepted our new reality and adapted to it. We were inspired to take new steps together, and doing so gave us courage, strength, and hope. Change your images of the past, and keep your mind open to new possibilities.