I have a 3-year-old with a stubborn streak deep as the Pacific Ocean. (Can any other parents relate?) Here's a scenario that happens often at my house--
Me: Johnny, go get your shoes on, please, because we need to leave.
Johnny: [keeps playing]
Me: Johnny, I said get your shoes on, please.
Johnny: [keeps playing]
Me: JOHNNY! We need to leave! Shoes! Now!
Johnny: [looks up at me briefly, turns around and keeps playing]
At this point, I, as a parent, have many choices. Many parents don't know they have choices, since nothing kicks a person into auto-pilot (i.e. unconscious programming) like the stress of parenting.
But we always have choices. Because many people grew up in authoritative, discipline-heavy homes, their auto-pilot reaction in a situation like this is to pour on the "discipline measures."
"Johnny, go get your shoes RIGHT NOW, OR ELSE ____" (Insert favorite threat of punishment here.)
YOUR Johnny may get scared of this threat and run for his shoes... MY Johnny, as I mentioned, is very stubborn. I can rationalize with him, explaining until I'm blue in the face why it's so important that he wears shoes, I can threaten, I can bribe. And he will quietly keep playing, trying to push me a.l.l...t.h.e...w.a.y...t.o...t.h.e...e.d.g.e...........
Oooops, there goes my temper, and I'm exploding with all the fury of a highly-educated, mature, rational adult who is completely getting her butt kicked by a three-year-old.
I'm so glad I discovered the power of Play! In situations like these, I've learned that I have another choice: make it FUN!
"Johnny, I'm going to go get my shoes on. Whoever gets their shoes on first is the WINNER!! Ready? Get set, GO!"
I can't believe it. He falls for it every time. And laughing, to boot. In fact, we BOTH walk out the door laughing. Instead of crying and simmering!
There is an important lesson here. One of the primary trademarks of being human is our desire to have fun, to be joyful and light-hearted. Sometimes absolutely nothing else works.
We all know that we have problems that stem from issues deep inside ourselves. Our dreams help us see the roots of these problems. Maybe there's a terrible tiger in our dreams that we feel represents a thirst for power we don't want to own, or an endless hedge maze that represents our belief that life will always be complicated, or perhaps a murderer breaking into our home that represents our fear that if we trust people they will betray us. The list goes on. In the face of serious, black, difficult problems, often our first reaction is to lock-down with an iron hand worthy of an Army sergeant. We tell ourself, "Self, you behave, OR ELSE ___!" This will only increase our nightmares, or, worse, cause us to grow out-of-touch with our inner world and lead a dead, surfacey, bland existence, (which will eventually push us into serious depression.)
What if we had another choice?
What if having fun could actually help solve our life-long, deepest, stubbornest, most complex problems?
Interpreting your dreams is a major step in understanding your inner world. From there, you can actually play with your dreams in a joyful way, and laugh your shackles off. Go back into your dream and ride bareback on that tiger, jumping through waterfalls and soaring through beautiful forests. Go back into your dream and pull a magic wand out of your pocket that opens a sparkling door in the hedge maze, leading to a wide open meadow full of flowers. Go back into your dream and imagine the figure climbing through your window is actually your fairy godmother, here to transform your raggedy dress into a golden ball gown.
I can't believe it. My soul falls for it every time. Yours will too. Go have fun!