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What Avatar: The Last Air Bender & The Legend of Korra Taught Me About PTSD & Resilience

It's funny how life can give us lessons to help us heal in the most unexpected ways. Let's talk about coping skills for just a moment. One of my coping skills is watching cartoons & animated movies when my inner child is feeling overwhelmed. A very dear love of mine got me back into watching Avatar: The Last Air Bender recently. I had forgotten how much I loved this series in my early twenties. I'm going to talk about the lessons I pulled from these two series to help me in my journey back to myself.


Ok now that that has been taken care of, back to my story. I dived right back into the series as I was pulled into Aang's world again. Watching him navigate his experience as THE balance for humanity with compassion & childlike innocence made my heart swell. He is also an air bender which resonated with me being an air sign in the zodiac. The episode that got me in the gizzard was the one where he realized he was expected to kill Fire Lord Ozai. I felt a stab to my heart but I didn't think too much of it. I knew his plight mirrored my own. It is tough when you have to make a decision that no one else understands. I continued to cheer Aang on because I knew he'd make the right choice for all. He had been through a lot & I'll be completely honest, I wouldn't blame him if he was bitter & killed Fire Lord Ozai. He consulted his past lives & his friends. They all said kill him...but Aang knew there had to be another way. He was very troubled but he held to his belief that he couldn't be the balancer of the world while taking a life at the same time.

Of course in their final battle Fire Lord Ozai showed no mercy. If he'd been given the chance, he would've killed Aang & countless others without a thought. Aang had been injured badly by Azula in a previous episode & doubted his ability to fight Ozai & win. It wasn't until Ozai pushed Aang beyond his physical limit that the Avatar state was activated & Aang went on a rampage beating Ozai pretty badly. My takeaway...the pressure that others put on you by their inability to release their ego will cause your true nature to arise. As Aang had Ozai down & was ready to deal the final blow, he was overtaken by his desire to not kill him. Aang hesitated & Ozai tried to take advantage. In that moment, Aang stepped outside of the box of what all those before him would've done & listened to HIS inner guidance. He spared Ozai yet removed his power (fire bending) from him.

Let me just say that I was blown away! Aang had every reason to obliterate Ozai (& honestly could you blame him?) but he chose what felt right to him. Ozai also received his reward for what he put out into the universe. I was very satisfied with the ending of the series. This taught me a lot about resilience & doing what is necessary to heal & carve a path for yourself no matter who approves of you walking your path.

Next up the lesson I learned from Avatar Korra about PTSD. Korra is a lot more fiesty than Aang. You would think she belonged to the fire nation instead of the water nation. She also resonated with me based on my zodiac sign because as an Aquarius, I am a water bearer. She too went through some pretty tough beatings due to being the avatar & being hard headed (resonated with this as well LOL). One particular beating in which she was poisoned left her in a wheelchair & unable to access the avatar state. She isolated & tried to get through her struggles alone...bad idea. She ended up having flashbacks of her ordeal & being haunted by her disembodied avatar state. She was angry all the time & couldn't get back to center. She felt weak & alone...does this sound familiar to those of us who have PTSD? It certainly did to me.

Fast Forward to her finding her way into the spirit realm with the help of a cute & cuddly spirit. Here she finds her saving grace who helps her see that she still has some of the poison in her system & is driven by fear which is weighing her down & preventing her from accessing the avatar state. The person who guides her will not remove the poison from her system...Korra has to do it herself & she does. She faces her demons & becomes stronger as a result.

What I took away from Korra's experience was that I have to access my own healing ability & remove the fears & poison of the lies I believe about myself from my being. Others may guide me but they cannot do my work for me. How can I do that? By retraining my brain. Our brains learn from repetition. Just as we learned to accept the lies that have been given to us either intentionally or through nonverbal means, we can start to give our brains the truth about who we are.

We are deserving of every good thing that will help us heal, grow, & live a fulfilling life. Practice correcting those negative thoughts when they come up. Let go of those experiences that you thought confirmed you were not worthy of consideration. We all know that these thoughts will come, it's just part of being human. Instead of allowing them to weigh us down, sitting in fear of what if, & taking actions to solidify our fears, correct them each time gently & with compassion for who you have been in order to be OK.

That is all I have to share in this post. Look for the good in yourself & have compassion for what you see as the bad. We are all doing the best we can. Push yourself to be better AND understand that you won't always get it right but you can strive to show up better than you did the last time. You have my compassion & empathy as you navigate your path!

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