By Peter Metzner
What if you had access to your own personal coach who could provide guidance to keep you on the right track, both personally and professionally? And suppose all you had to do to tap this valuable source of support and direction was to go to sleep?
Withhold your skepticism for a brief moment and consider the possibility that residing within you is a hidden transmitter sending out signals and information that can help guide your life and career. Like an internal compass, it can give direction to your life.
Your “dreams” hold such power. Dreams reveal areas of our lives that need attention, showing us where adaptation and growth need to take place. Much like the reins of a horse, they correct us when we go off track.
Throughout history, dreams have played a role in religion and science, leading to numerous discoveries and inventions. Kekule’ was inspired to understand the molecular structure of Benzene by dreaming of a snake biting its tail. Einstein recounted that he first came up with the theory of relativity as an adolescent. He dreamed of being in a sled going down a hill faster and faster until it approached the speed of light. In many ways his scientific career could be seen as an extended meditation on that dream. Einstein admonished his colleagues, “Learn to dream!”
Unfortunately, in rational Western thought, dreams are frequently discounted and dismissed. Few people choose to explore this world, although we visit it every night. The Talmud states, “A dream that has not been interpreted is like a letter unopened.”
A few years ago, I dreamed I was imprisoned in a desert surrounded by a brick wall and chain link fence, guarded by a somewhat arrogant and surly middle-aged man. On the other side of the wall was beautiful lush country and hills. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this dream was a metaphor for how I had trapped myself, confined from the place I wanted to be. This insight inspired me to make many positive changes in my personal and professional life.
In studying over 65,000 dreams, Maria Von Franz, who in her time was considered the foremost authority in psychoanalytic theory, concluded that we dream of exactly what we need in each particular life situation. She believed that dreams have an advantage over other techniques of self-knowledge in that they give us a dynamic, continuous self-diagnosis and can clarify momentary erroneous attitudes or reactions to situations.
Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, believed, “In sleep we awaken to who we are. We need to be connected to our dream life because dreams show us the maps to our psyches.” In other words, dreams show us all that is psychologically real, but not conscious.
You don’t need to be an expert on dreams to make good use of them. If you pay attention, dreams will assist you in uncovering your gifts, talents and abilities. By becoming more aware of your dreams, you become the architect of a richer life.
Here are some tips to help find meaning in your dreams:
- Be open to your dream life. Paying attention to your dreams is like welcoming a friend. Once feeling welcome, this friend will become clearer, more detailed and frequent.
- Record your dreams in a journal by your bed. Write in the present tense. Capture your thoughts before you start your morning routine. Sudden activity and movement can make them quickly disappear.
- Date and title each dream. For each dream, ask: what is the reason that this dream came to me? What is this dream asking of me? What part or parts of me is this dream showing? What feelings did I get?
- Review your journal frequently to identify ongoing themes and patterns. Your associations with each person, place or thing can give valuable insight into your own motivations and desires.
- Realize that dreams have multiple meanings. Dreams reveal elements of your personality. Could something in the dream such as a car or house be a metaphor for the body? Could the dream evoke a creative or spiritual potential in you that you do not know about?
- Join or start a dream circle. A supportive and trusting environment, where you can freely share associations of dream symbols, often uncovers powerful and often transforming insights.
In our fragile and changing work-world, we need to envision career goals that go beyond the next year’s performance expectations. To learn, to grow and to develop, we need to make more use of our whole minds and draw on sources of wisdom that may have been neglected. Our dreams allow us to explore who we are and who we want to become, as we strive for a positive future.
Our minds hold deep reservoirs of information, wealth and guidance just waiting to be tapped. If we are open to all our experiences, awake and asleep, our creative impulses will be stimulated and we can open otherwise closed attitudes, beliefs and opinions. The impact on our lives and decisions can be profound.
Peter Metzner is Principal of Dynamic Change, Inc., a strategic partner to Career Planning and Management, Inc. He helps individuals and organizations see what is working or not to make healthier choices. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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