I’ve been listening to a lot of Jungian Analysts (practitioners of Carl Jung’s approach to psychoanalysis) discuss the nature of dreaming, archetypes, and the use of images by the brain. Some people think in images, others in words, and some use a combination. The dream state we remember tends to be visual (though language or concepts can be present). It’s is like a metaphor – the brain composites images to catalog experiences, making mental changes or preparing for the future events. Happily, compiling happens while the emotional systems rest. This allows the brain to interact with fears otherwise buried. Therefore, if you pay attention to your dreams, you may be able to see obscured by your safety mechanisms, and discover what it is you need to do.
I cultivate a growth mindset, so I dream nightly – there’s a lot of consolidation to do! A recent dream woke me up (it overreached and triggered emotions). In my dream, I was awarded an opportunity to go on a cruise with friends and a significant other. The cab arrived but I was not ready for it. I was in disarray. The limo driver waited for a long time, but finally left. I walked to the destination, where I was given orientation, setting my things on a chair next to me, in a trash bag. My significant other arrived. Rather than the woman I was seeing, it was an ex from a bad relationship – then I woke up.
Avoiding Trauma Repetition
A plausible interpretation is to think I was reliving past trauma, but no – I understood the dream quite clearly upon waking. My current relationship was being equated to that bad relationship. This was what I needed to put my house in order, to go to work. It was a warning that opportunities may be missed, and even if they were not missed, I might end up in the same trouble. (I’ve written in the past that trauma has a way of repeating itself if we do not learn the lessons required for personal change.)
In Waking the Tiger, renowned psychologist Peter Levine notes trauma repetition is the norm. Once encountered, we often attempt to re-encounter this drama again and again hoping to defeat it and find empowerment. However, this trauma usually comes from an inherent weakness which will result in the same repetition of failure.
The ability to walk away from the repetition of mistakes is crucial to personal success. We must stop doing the things which end in the same result. This can be choosing the same type of person or the same behaviors which equate the same ends in a relationship. It can be the same indulgence, hedonism, envy, or laziness which repeats loss. Letting go is the only way to move forward.
Results and Action
In this case, the meaning and results of the dream were twofold: first, I took action on some things which were limiting my ability to be prepared, so I don’t miss opportunity when it comes calling or show up with a trash bag in hand! Second, I ended a relationship with the woman I was seeing, someone I liked very much, but believed we were not great together. Thanks to my subconscious, I was able to trust my intuition and I know made the right decisions.
As Jordan Peterson says, put your room in order. Speak the truth clearly and concisely. Let go of the things not helping you. Take responsibility. Aim at your best self and attempt great things.
~ Dave Wallace, MS Psy