Dealing with Anxiety Dreams
- Wednesday, 24 December 2008
When you think of the holidays, do you think of stress or spirit? Is your “to do” list the first thing that comes to mind or your soul? If it is indeed stress, then you are likely to have typical anxiety dreams that go hand-in-hand with the hectic pace and demanding days leading up to the holidays.
Here are some typical scenarios followed by some suggestions for surviving this time of year:
Unable to Call for Help: Are you the type of person that has to do it all? Are you in over your head (perhaps quite seriously) and unable to ask for help? Even in less emotionally serious versions of this dream, we often find a stressed out perfectionist who cannot or will not ask for help. Suggestion: Ask Aunt Betty and best friend Leslie to bring dessert or whatever else will relieve you from having to do "one more thing." But you do have to ask.
Missing the Plane, the Bus, or a Deadline: Typically, dreamers express the feeling that they are "missing the boat." They constantly feel anxious, frustrated, and concerned that they are missing out on opportunities, or so overwhelmed that they can’t make their deadlines. Suggestion: It is time to prioritize. Take a deep breath. See what you can reasonably do and let everything else go.
Phones Don’t Work: A frustrating dream that is a variation on the "Unable to Call for Help" dreams. These dreams may suggest that the dreamer is in a situation where s/he do not feel heard or cannot communicate their true feelings. Suggestion: Ask yourself, “Is there something important that I have to say to someone in my life?” Maybe it’s time to tell your mother-in-law that you would like to have the family dinner at your house, not hers. This type of dream tells you that you have something to communicate, and are having some trouble expressing it. Keep trying.
Exams or Forgetting Your Lines: These dreams can cover the spectrum from taking an exam, not finding the right room, not having the right pencil to being on stage and not knowing your lines. This dream theme may indicate a feeling of not being prepared, or of being put to the test in some way in one’s life. It may be the dream of a procrastinator, someone who is never fully ready. Suggestion: Ask for help getting ready, and include the kids. Let go of the Martha Stewart, picture-perfect family get-together fantasy. It’s okay to skip the perfectly ironed tablecloth. Really.
Body Dreams: The final dream theme to watch for is information about the state of your body and health. Dream symbols often reflect the subtle body processes before we are consciously aware of them. Watch for dream symbols, metaphors, story lines that touch on nourishment, cleansing, and elimination, and ill health such as infection (bugs or fires, for example), or things not working properly, as well as images of houses and cars that can often represent the body. Suggestion: If you dream of a run down old car that is out of gas, go lie down!
Now that we have got your anxiety dreams under control, try shifting from personal worry to a more global dream. One theory about dreams is we rehearse our next developmental steps and that our dreams are an instrument of both personal and evolutionary development. Most simply, children will dream about riding a bike before learning to ride one. As women, we dream about giving birth long before we reach that stage (though men dream about giving birth too).
We also dream about emotional challenges and relationships, working them through in dreams so that we can face them in waking life. Sandor Ferenczi, a contemporary and colleague of Freud and Jung, called dreaming the workshop of evolution. This theory is also found in Native and Shamanic traditions. We dream on a personal, individual level. We dream globally as well.
It is important to look at our personal anxiety dreams, but once we get the message, what if we used our energy to dream society’s next step? What if we dreamed peace? Like the child dreaming how to read and write, long before he can do so; perhaps we can dream about a time when terrorists no longer brutally kill the innocent, when each of us respects our neighbors no matter how unlike us they are, and when workers are not trampled to death on Black Friday. We have to ask for these dreams. We have to choose to dream our world into a better state. The same way an inventor has to first dream of their invention then create it, we too have to dream peace then work towards manifesting it. This year, I am asking for a better world in my dreams. Join me and we can help create it. But, first we have to dream it.