This used to be a blog dedicated to one of my interests, dream interpretation. I have decided to expand it to include thoughts about pretty much Everything.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The positive side of fear

Being afraid has its upsides.
No, really. I'm not being facetious.  We often spend so much energy trying to quell our fears, not realizing that they have important positive messages to tell us.

The positive-thinking movement would have us believe that fear is the enemy. While I agree that positivity is very important, there's a big problem with this.  My fears are part of me.  Your fears are part of you.  Trying to cut them off is like trying to attack our own body.  How can your body be healthy if it fights against itself?  It's the same with the soul.

Our fears are very valid parts of our humanity, and they exist to give input into our lives, to help us make good decisions.  I came up with a hypothesis recently, which is, a major cause of depression in our world may be due to people seeing their fear as the enemy, trying to kill it, and then being left with gaping holes inside.

Let's take 3 of the biggest, most common fears that people struggle with, and see what the real, and good, messages are behind them.  1) the fear of not having enough (money, resources, etc.); 2) the fear of rejection; and 3) the fear of failure.

1)  The fear of not having enough comes from a deep, very basic desire in our nature--the desire to be alive, to survive.  If something happens in your life that activates that fear--a check bounces, you lose your job, you look at a business goal and think it looks too exhausting, etc.-- what do you do?  If you're like most people, you will try to resist the feelings of fear and panic.  (See my previous post for insight into resistance responses).  However, the fear of not having enough is linked to this message: "I want to survive!"  When you reject the fear, you reject the message behind it.  Unconsciously, you are sending the message, "I don't want to survive!"  (Ironic, isn't it?)  What can you expect to happen if you start shutting down your survival response?  Depression, lethargy, and suicidal thoughts. How can you possibly get ahead in life when you are stuck in those states? 

2) The fear of rejection, is linked to a very normal desire to have harmonious relationships with others. If something happens in your life that threatens your desire for relational harmony, such as a fight with a loved one, a critical word, or the necessity of defending a controversial opinion, for example, you may find yourself dealing with this.  The fear of rejection is linked to the message, "I want to live in peace with others!"  When you reject the fear, you reject the message behind it.  Then what happens?  Depression, isolation, or combative behavior.  How can you possibly obtain peaceful relationships when you are striving in those behaviors?

3)  The fear of failure is linked to a completely healthy desire for significance in the world.  Certain events can trigger this fear--starting a new challenging project, or getting some bad news at work or home, for example.  The fear of failure is linked to the message, "I want to be significant!"  When you reject the fear, you reject the message behind it. Then you enter into a fight with yourself, leading to--you guessed it-- depression.  Self-deprecation, "workaholism," or under-performance are other possible symptoms.  How can you succeed in life when you're digging yourself into these kinds of holes?

Hopefully it's clear.  Your fears become self-fulfilling prophecies when you repress them, despite your darned-est efforts to the contrary.

How might these kinds of tug-of-wars show up in our dreams?  Running away from ANYTHING in dreams is always a big clue that you have something, most likely a fear, that you need to face.  I've seen it time and time again--when you reenter your running-away dream, and change it so that you decide to turn around and let it catch you, you discover that the scary being is actually a loving, supportive, transformational figure.  Other themes to look for are fighting, extreme opposites, or parts of your body (or someone else's body) being damaged.

Contact me if you feel it's time to discover the positive sides of YOUR fears via dreamwork!

(P.S. this post is very personal to me, as I struggled with serious depression for many years.  Depression is usually quite complicated, and isn't solved in a single day. However, it was through the process of working with my dreams that the depression began to lift.  Finally, it was when I had the realization that my fears were actually my friends, as I shared in this article, that I felt the final strains of depression release.  Since then, I've had several "threatening" circumstances arise, to test my discovery.  Instead of fighting my fears, I worked to own them and find the real message behind them.  And I was able to navigate through the difficult situations, which in the past would have triggered some major depressive episodes, with much more presence, life, and passion than ever!)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Own your fear

Sometimes something happens that grips you with fear.  How do you respond?  If you're like most people, you resist it in some way. Our natural response to fear is one of three mechanisms: "fight, flight, or freeze," all of which are resistances to the threatening circumstances, and, by extension, resistances to feeling our emotion of fear.  The "Fight" mechanism includes the very common positive-thinking approach advocated by many--"don't let negativity control your life," they say, "believe it and you can achieve it."  "Flight" mechanisms often involve escape attempts via addictions or distractions.  "Freeze" mechanisms can include the every-popular approach of procrastinating your decision-making until as late as possible, or mindless submission to the fear-inducing circumstances, putting you in a disembodied kind of feeling, preventing you from being fully present in the world.

I suggest a different approach.  Before trying to deal with the fearful situation, you need to deal with your fear, itself.  Only then will your mind be clear enough to know what to do.  Look your fear directly in the eye and say "You are mine."  Feel it infuse your body.  Watch it shake your soul up, tie it in knots, and throw it to the ground.  Analyze the effects it is having on you.  Observe, feel, and keep breathing. 

Why would I promote something insane like that?  Aren't we supposed to fill our minds with positive thoughts?  Won't we attract negative energy into our lives if we wallow in fear and negativity?

Perhaps, but I'm not talking about wallowing mindlessly.  The problem is, if you don't face your fear, it will keep your mind operating in a desperate tug-of-war between the "Fight, Flight, or Freeze" response, and the "rational, let's not be ruled by emotions" response, creating a feedback loop that can lead to depression, psychosomatic symptoms, nightmares, anxiety, failures to succeed at what you are trying to do, and more. 

Your dreams will, most certainly, show you when this is going on. You may have nightmares of scary beings chasing you, or see images of struggle between two or more entities.  Your fear, pushed down to the unconscious, simply wants a voice.  Own it, hear it, feel it, and watch it actually go to work for you and improve your life!  You probably can't believe it could be this way until you see it actually working, as I have.

Dreamwork can help you face your unconscious fears and use them to empower your life.  Contact me for help with your dreams, if you want to get to work on facing your fears!

More about some specific fears next time.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Free dream interpretation if you donate your account!

Well, folks, I've decided to give this dream interpretation business a real, concerted effort!  My friend, Shannon Ikerd, is a pro at media advertisement, and she's agreed to give me some advice on promoting my business.  The main thing I need for my little business right now is more awareness.  I'm going to need your help with that! 

There's a program out there that will allow you to "donate" your Twitter or FaceBook account to a campaign.  Basically, this means that your account will automatically retweet or repost messages from the campaign(s) you sign up for.  (You can control how often, how many, etc.)  Hopefully, via donated accounts, friends of friends will end up "liking" or "following" SleepingRealities, and I can get more exposure.  I'd be thrilled if some of you would do this for me, and I'm offering a free dream interpretation if you "donate your account" to the Sleeping Realities campaign!  You can choose between a Full Length Written Interpretation (3 pages of typed interpretation) or a Word of Mouth Phone Interpretation (30+ minutes of a recorded conversation interpreting your dream). 
I'm having a tough time, for some unknown reason, getting Donate Your Account to recognize my FaceBook page, so for now, the campaign is only available for Twitter users.  So if you want to donate your Twitter account to mine, go to Donate Your Account , sign in with your Twitter acct, find the Campaign called "Sleeping Realities," and then "donate."  This'll let your account retweet my posts. (You're in control of how often, etc.)

I'll let you know if I get the FaceBook thing figured out, as I'm sure many of you would rather use that than Twitter.  Meanwhile, do let me know if you Donate your Twitter, and we'll get a dream interpretation scheduled for you.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Going through the car wash

Have you ever brought your car through an automated car wash? You pull the car into the garage. The garage doors close in front of and behind you. The lights turn on. The enormous spinning brushes start approaching.  You hear them whirring outside of your windows as they get closer and closer... then the loud CRASH when they first contact your car. Soap is sprayed on, ... water... bubbles... brushes... noise... chaos...! 
Now (humor me,please, in a moment of silliness) and imagine YOU are the car-- can you feel what it might be like, not knowing what is happening, and feeling like you're being drowned, suffocated, pressured, scraped, bristled... with no end in sight?
And yet, when it's done, and the doors open, and you emerge, dripping, shining, and sparkling, that's when you realize, this was totally worth it.

Have you ever felt like YOU were being put through a figurative car wash?  Most people can look back on their lives and remember a period of time that felt like that.  You watched as the circumstances closed around you, preventing your escape. You had just enough light to perceive that the chaos was approaching, you braced yourself, and CRASH, it came tumbling over you, drowning your life with noise, emotion, turbulence, confusion.  Finally, when the season was over, you emerged, a very different person than when you started.

There are seasons in life that are like automatic car washes. Portals into new states of being.  Often we can't get to the clean, shiny, sparkling place we want to be without some serious scrubbing. That can be woundful to our pride, but it's true for every single human on earth.  Trials can serve to polish us, make us grow up, bring greater wisdom.

Unlike the car, though, which almost always comes out looking better than it did going in, we humans have some control in whether or not these car wash periods of life actually make us better or drown out our confidence in life.  We can try to protect ourselves by hiding away parts of ourselves from the power of the scrubbing brushes trying to clean up our lives.  We can use escape mechanisms, we can resist the process, we can do all kinds of unhealthy things, and these will hinder the very thing this trial could serve to empower--our growth.  If we don't respond in a healthy way, periods of trial can actually destroy our souls, rather than polishing them.  It's an ironic truth of life.

"Car wash" seasons in life are often portrayed in dreams as dark tunnels, narrow bridges, giving birth, or doorways.  A few nights ago, I even dreamed that I squeezed myself through a mouse-hole in the wall!  Have you ever dreamed of narrow portals? How did you handle it in the dream? Do you see how it applied to your waking life?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What are you fighting?

Take a close look at most dreams, and there's usually some form of conflict in it somewhere.  Some dreams, the conflict is front and center, with dream characters really trying to wipe each other out, and in some dreams, it's more subtle.  For example, in my dream last night, I was planning on going to a fun restaurant with a group of friends, and one of them approached me with his fears that he wouldn't have enough money to pay for the dinner, and also that he wouldn't be able to buy some gum after the dinner so his breath wouldn't stink.  In the dream I brushed aside his fears as irrelevant. But in the morning, upon reflecting on the dream, I paused and thought about what he said.  I really felt the conflict in myself between the desire to go forward and the fear that I wouldn't be able to pay the price.
It's interesting that within one person can live so many different desires and personality traits, and often these desires and traits can conflict with each other.  All in the same person.  (Now multiply one person's inner conflicts times 7 billion people in the world, and it's no wonder we have so much fighting amongst ourselves!) When we're aware  that we're conflicted, we can usually figure out a good path forward, eventually.  The problem arises when we aren't aware that we are internally divided.  We may think we're making wise decisions, when in fact, an unconscious inner player may be living out its fears through our unwitting reactions to life.  And sometimes, we may be dimly aware of an inner conflict, but the two sides seem so polarized, so desperately opposites, we don't see how we can please both sides of ourselves. 
Sometimes we repress one part of ourselves so deeply that the only way it can be heard is to manifest in our waking life as intense struggles with other people, organizations, or platforms.  If we could only solve our internal conflicts, there would not be such a need to fight externally.
It may seem hopeless, but it's not.  There's always a win-win solution, if we look deeply enough and are willing to bring all of our fears into the open light of day.  Dream work can be extremely helpful in this regard.  Sometimes when you solve an unconscious skirmish, your external anxiety and tension melts away on its own.  In my situation, a good way to work with my inner conflict would be to imagine I'm back in my dream, and talking to my friend.  I can ask all the other friends to contribute towards his meal.  Allow him to feel safe and comfortable and provided-for, so we can all go forward and enjoy the restaurant without anyone feeling neglected. 
Peace starts within.  Give every part of yourself a chance to voice its concerns and opinions, and then manage them all to find a wise, balanced approach to your life.  This is what it means to live consciously, and dream work can guide you on this path.
What conflicts are showing in your dreams? 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Feed that monkey!

I recently discovered a business in my community called Adventure Monkey.  I was reading about them on their FaceBook page, and came across these paragraphs:

 We all need adventure. The Adventure Monkey is inside of us all. Without feeding our Adventure Monkeys we get at the minimum restless and at worst clinically depressed. Some people feed their Adventure Monkeys with daredevil X-game types of adventures. Others feed them with travel, meeting new people or raising a family. There is an unlimited number of ways to feed our Adventure Monkeys. If we don’t, we end up with a stale, tasteless and boring life that lacks the excitement we all crave. Ever feel that way? It’s because your Adventure Monkey is hungry or worse yet, starved.

I got the idea of the Adventure Monkey while on a long bicycle ride. I was considering the simple needs that must be met for us to live happy, fulfilled lives. No forebrain or higher level human psyche to get in the way. We tend to forget or repress these simple needs and desires in our logical forebrain dominated world. I found myself seeing these inner needs as little monkeys, cute yet destructive if left unfed.

Much like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I imagined a barrel of monkeys instead of a dry, dusty pyramid. If any one of these monkeys doesn’t get fed, it gets hungry and becomes irritated, antagonizing the other monkeys inside of us.

Working my day to day office job was boring me to death. Office politics irritated me. Meaningless small talk annoyed me. Futile work assignments drained me. In the cubicle world, there is nothing “real” to fight for so we make up stupid, idiotic things to worry about.

I started to feel useless, tired and depressed. I came home and was tired. I would watch people do cool things on television. I was tired of watching people do great things as I sat there doing nothing. My Adventure Monkey was starved!

When the weather turned, I started bicycling again. I was enjoying the freedom and relaxation of a nice cross country ride. I found myself challenging myself, going farther and farther each ride. My mind would clear and I would reflect and learn while on a long bicycle ride. I didn’t feel depressed. I felt as if I was accomplishing something great on these rides. I was feeding my Adventure Monkey.
Wow.  This is exactly what dream interpretation is about.  Only we have more in our dreams than just monkeys.  We have friends, enemies, strangers, animals, plants, scenery, buildings, monsters, and much more.  And every symbol is part of our inner self!  Every symbol has a need, just as valid as the Adventure Monkey's need for adventure.
This is a great approach to interpreting your dreams.  Just write down the main symbols of your dream, and, one-by-one, ask yourself, "What does this person/animal/object need to be happy?"
Finding a balance among the many (and often conflicting) desires and impulses within ourselves is the path to maturity and joy.  If you are dreaming about something that elicits a strong emotional reaction, chances are there is an internal desire being repressed and needing valid expression.
If you interpret your dreams and act on them in a mature way, you, too, will feel you are "accomplishing something great."  Because you are.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Vinegar and Vomit

Last night I dreamed there was a pot of disgusting, brown, chunky liquid on my counter, and I kept adding vinegar to it, but it never got fuller.  Every time I added vinegar, it fizzed and bubbled.

It's a powerful image that brought tears to my eyes today when I remembered it, even before I knew what it meant.  Still, I probably wouldn't have interpreted it, had I not experienced a synchronicity--I went over to a friend's house, and there in the sink was a crock pot that was soaking, waiting to be washed.  It was full of -- you guessed it -- brown chunky liquid.  It was at that point that I decided to interpret the dream.

The dream references a few recent events from my waking life.  One is something that happened sometime last week. I tried to make biscuits using baking soda instead of baking powder, and I used vinegar to try to neutralize the alkaline of the soda. When I added vinegar to the dough, it fizzed in the same way as the dream. Despite my chemical ingenuity, the biscuits still turned out terribly!  The other event this dream references is the stomach bug I got a few nights ago, that had me vomiting every hour, all night.  (The brown stuff in the dream was kind of like the vomit in the toilet. Very gross.) I am, today, still recovering, though I'm feeling better and haven't vomited since.  The dream happened while in recovery from my illness.

What does it mean? In the dream I was trying to neutralize a concoction, bring a balance between acid and base. The dream is about me trying to force a balance into an issue of life. This balancing effort will probably not be successful, like the biscuits, unless I look deeper and do some smarter intervention.  Now I'll examine the symbols.
First, the vomit.  It's something that's supposed to be inside, nourishing my body, but it has come out into the open.  I need to ask myself, "Where in my life do I feel like what is supposed to be inside, nourishing me, is misplaced?"
Next, the vinegar--acid.  Words I associate with vinegar are: burning, sharp, strong, and salad dressing.  The efforts I'm using are more sharpness, more strength.  It could be something good, if I mixed it with better ingredients, like when I make salad dressing with vinegar as one of the ingredients; but in its raw state, it is too harsh.  It creates bubbles and boils, rather than balance and beauty.  "Where in my life am I using too much sharpness and strength?"

Aha.  When I asked myself these questions, the meaning of the dream became clear.  The evening before the dream, I lost my temper at someone close to me.  I was already feeling physically terrible, due to being sick, and what this person did just infuriated me.  All I wanted to do was GET TO BED so I could REST, and he was putting all these obstacles in my path AND being mean on top of that!   On a normal day I probably would have managed it better, but I was not feeling well, and I blew my top.
I immediately regretted losing my temper, and apologized, but that guilt remained.  I don't believe in violence.  How could I have let myself be so harsh?  I know better ways of dealing with these situations.  Where did that anger come from? The dream is showing that, despite efforts I've made to the contrary, I still have a gut-level belief that harshness will "correct" bad behavior, even though I know, mentally, that it won't.  It shows that I am taking what should be nurturing feelings (giving into a relationship with someone I love), and making those feelings about ME, and then trying to correct that selfishness in an inappropriate way.

It's important to remember that every symbol in the dream somehow is about the dreamer.  The vomit in the dream is my view of the bad behavior. The vomit doesn't represent the actions of the person I was angry at, but rather how I FEEL about those actions.  The vinegar is my harsh strength that came spilling out through the weakness, called sickness, it found in my armor. When I use harshness to try to correct someone, I'm REALLY trying to bring relief and balance to my own feelings, not to his behaviors alone.  How much better to be "neutral" (pun unintentionally discovered!) and focus on his actions alone, without trying to bring my feelings into the mix?

What I can do to neutralize my feelings and lose my temper less?  Visualize that pot of disgusting liquid turning into a fresh, crisp, healthful, vibrant salad, and the vinegar becoming my favorite salad dressing (Annie's Green Garlic).  I'll visualize this several times a day for a month, until I feel a shift in how I respond to irritating situations.

What this exercise does: Changes my feelings about bad behavior. Rather than other people's irritating behavior being perceived as something disgusting to be eradicated, like vomit, they are opportunities to learn and grow, just as a salad is an opportunity to become more healthy.  My anger can be harnessed in healthy ways, as vinegar can be mixed with other ingredients and made into a delicious salad dressing.

What a gross dream!  Have you had a gross dream you would like interpreted?  Go to my website to learn how I can help you!  www.sleepingrealities.com