Dreamwork: Nightmares are Your Best Friends
When you wake up in the middle of the night because you have just had a terrible nightmare like a poisonous snake ready to sink its fangs in you or you are about to fall off a huge cliff, your heart is usually racing and your mind may feel some relief that the dream was not real life. Most people just want to get to a place of calm again after a nightmare, and then return to some kind normalcy hoping that the dream does not reappear. The goal of this post and one’s following are invitations to view nightmares or other negative dreams as your best friends because all the nightmare is actually trying to communicate to you is that you have a fear that needs addressing, and the reason you have the fear is that your inner being needs a new capacity that is as yet not actualized.
Most of what we call Western medicine is based on the idea that human beings are apes with a larger brain. This means that when there is a disturbance in the system, the purpose of medicine is to get you back to a state of equilibrium. It works in many cases like when you break an arm or leg and have it reset, but when the concept that we are animals with a large brain goes into the area of disturbances of the mind, going back to an old equilibrium isn’t all that effective. It would have you try to completely forget about the nightmare, maybe take something to calm you down, or have you practice meditation. The idea is to get rid of the disturbance because it is the enemy that causes your life to be rattled.
When you start with the belief that humans are spiritual beings living temporarily in a physical body, then the whole world of negative emotions and nightmares become so much more interesting and friendly. A nightmare awakens a huge amount of fear in the dreamer. Suddenly you are faced with a situation where you have no inner resources to deal with the challenge in front you. Your mind goes on alert and sends impulses throughout your body to fight or flee from the terrible situation. So why is that a good thing? Why would I ever want to make friends with a nightmare or any other negative feeling I might have? The fear is just the messenger. It is not the enemy. It is just sending a message that there is an aspect of your life in which you are completely incompetent and in need a huge development. It lets you know that you are at the beginning of a very long process of growth.
What is even friendlier about a nightmare is that if you do not take steps in your transformation process, the nightmare will repeat itself over time. It will just keep letting you know in whatever way it can that you need more development, more new capacities. It will not pass you onto the next grade level in life because of seat time. It will make you face the fear and change until the very end of your life and probably beyond this one. A negative dream or a nightmare is your best friend because it provides the message of where the friction is in your growth process, where you are lacking. How great is that? You can go to bed at night and wake up the next day with messages about what growth is needed.
If I have a dream with a big snake ready to put its fangs in me, and I feel a lot of fearful feelings, it simply means that I am at the beginning of the process of learning to deal with poisonous people who are full of jealous energy so that I can give out positive energy to myself and others around me. A nightmare says to you that you are at the beginning of a new process, not the end or not even close to the end. It is humbling, but also exciting because it means that with a substantial amount of inner work you can develop whole new competencies. It is an invitation to lots of great growth.
How else am I going to realize that I am incompetent with poisonous people and difficult situations unless I get the negative messages? There is another way you get messages. You get messages in real life. The advantage of a nightmare is that it lets you know ahead of time that you need this ability and that if don’t develop it, you are going to get hammered in real life. That is why it is your best friend. It is like a phone call letting you know what is up ahead. Snake people!!!!
If you can treat anxiety, guilt, jealousy, hurt, shame, embarrassment, disappointment, sadness or anger as friends who want you to develop new capacities, then the process of your growth is going to greatly accelerate. If you fight the feelings and try to get rid of them by material means, then regression happens. Your hurt is your friend. When I have a dream and it has fear in it, I just say to myself, isn’t this great? I love fear because I can work it and transform it into a new ability. They come to me at night in my dreams. I welcome them in and then give them a cup of coffee in the morning as we work through them. It is like I am on one end of the couch and they are on the other. We are both drinking coffee chatting over the steps to get to the transformation. When I come to an understanding about the messages and change them to positive energy, it is like the negative emotions sets its coffee down, thanks me for the visit, shakes hands, and quietly walks away.
I have a good relationship with the negative emotions because I know that they will give me good info. I cannot imagine a life without the kind of friction that they bring.
In the next post I will talk about the steps in dealing with a nightmare or other big negative emotions that come your way. See you then.
dear Richard. i have read with your post about analyzing nightmares,discerning their true meaning ,thereby turning them from something terrifying into something that works for you. as Nietzsche said “whatever does not destroy me makes me stronger” it is therefore with great interest that i will post my next dream ,which is a nightmare that has bothered me ever since. it does raise questions though. perhaps you will be able to answer them
Looking forward to it as you should
I appreciate this reminder. It’s such an important message! Thank you Richard for making it look easy to do something so very difficult. You really guide the way!
perfect timing, so i am really looking forward to your next post. i have been having a repeated dream, in variations, probably a dozen times this past year. i know what it’s about, just not sure what steps i am to take.