The Key to Dream Work/Transformation Work is the Ability to be Comfortable with Darkness
Imagine that you are in the midst of dream where you are about to be crushed by a tsunami or one that you are being chased by a fierce lion that is about to pounce on you. For most people who have this kind of dream, waking up from the dream is a big relief. They are happy to have it over or, in their words, happy that “its just a dream”.
In the outer world (the material world) the dream is a representation of the inner world. If the dream were a physical experience, death would occur in the dreaming process. Because it is a representation (a symbolic depiction of an inner state), there is no need to be uncomfortable with it. Obviously, in the above two examples, you experience fear in your mind and in your body despite the fact that you are asleep. For most people just having that feeling go away in the immediate present is a big relief. This is what most people do to help children go back to sleep after a nightmare or when they imagine something negative in their room like a witch. What if you could wake up from a dream with a lot of terrifying images and say to yourself, “How great was that dream that it brought so much fear to my awareness!” “Now I can finally get somewhere in my life!” “Thank you for bringing me that fear because now I know I can get to the energy that will solve the dream and make me so much more competent.”
It is possible to love terrifying dreams if you know the secret of negative emotions. The secret to loving the negative dreams is that they give you valuable insights and information about where your inner being wants to grow and transform. Being comfortable with your dark states, your negative emotions, helps you get to the higher state that your inner being is trying to get you to. How do you do it and what happens if you don’t? If you do not do the inner work to help actualize the new potential being stimulated by the dream, then the what you saw in the inner world will manifest in the outer world. It may not be an actual tsunami or an actual lion, but it will certainly be the negative appearances that those negative energies represent. For instance, a lion could represent a fierce and abusive person coming after you, and a tsunami could be like a wave a negative criticism like what happened to Meaghan Markle from the British press after she married into the royal family.
The dream world warns you ahead of time and, at the same time, reminds you of what fears you already have, where your weaknesses (your darkness) lies. The important thing is simply being “ok” with having the fear, that there is no shame in it. For a lot of people this can be a huge obstacle because most cultures socialize us to deny fears or try to put them aside. The dream tells you that you have it, so the best approach is to first say to yourself that it is OK to have the fear, and that it is going to be a big doorway to my transformation.
You might be saying to yourself, “yea sure, Richard, nicely said, but it is just too scary to face.”
The first step is to put some mental/emotional distance between yourself and the fear. During the nightmare your mind and body experience everything, but if you are going to transform the fear into a positive asset, you first need distance so that the feelings lose their intensity. The easiest way to begin the distancing process is by recording the dream on paper or through an audio recording. It is always very surprising how much fear can be lessened by expressing it. Keeping it in seems to make it more fearful.
The next step is to make a statement to yourself like this. “I am having the dream and experiencing the fear so that I can develop a new capacity inside of myself.” “It is OK to have the fear.” “The fear is my friend because it is going to lead me to new development.”
The third step has to do with finding the capacity that the fear is leading you to. I usually tell people to make a statement about their fear. In the tsunami dream I would ask what is the big negative wave that you are fearful of in your life. They would probably say that I am fearful of a big wave of negative criticism or gossip. If you know that the fear is a big negative wave of criticism, then you can figure out what the capacity is that their inner being is calling them to, being a big wave of positive encouragement to others. It is not good enough to think about the goal of the dream as making you aware of how fearful you are of criticism and then try to lessen the fear. Being a positive force of encouragement and support of others allows you to have a powerful impact on other’s lives which betters all of humankind.
Step four is about finding out the kind of coping behavior that the intensity of the negative emotion causes. It is always a variation of flight, fight, or freeze. In the above dreams, depending on your personality, you could do all three. Most people are in the flight mode which makes them hide from being out there and doing positive things. The reason it is important to identify the behavior is because it will change when the fear changes. When the fear transforms, you can give the new capacity goals and tasks to do with its new energy like finding 5 people to encourage each day.
Most people start to need outside help after step our to change the actual negative energy inside especially when the dreams bring up trauma from abusive experiences or experiences of abandonment. The important thing about being comfortable with your negative dreams and emotions is that they are leading you to a positive place where you are going to benefit the rest of humanity. How you get to the new capacity after you recognize it can be a complicated process depending on the past experiences. It is good to seek outside help.