My coach calls them Gremlins. Those nagging, self doubting, and negative thoughts that are some of the biggest obstacles preventing us from moving forward. It’s hard to know from whence precisely they come. For me, as much as I believe in self-awareness and am interested in psychology, I know knowledge alone doesn’t slay the insidious little beasts.
I’ll give you an example. When I was younger, in my teens and at least into my thirties, I had two recurrent dreams. Both nightmares. In my experience, dream (nightmare) imagery can come literally from things we’ve seen or heard about, while the nuances can be attributed to experiences we’ve had, anticipate or fear.
In my first recurring dream I believe the imagery came from the vivid images in my childhood copy of The Hobbit, and my horror of army ant swarms in our yard. I have no idea what the dream meant although in sheer numbers it could represent my aversion to crowds or simply fear of impending something in general.
This first dream involves me standing in the window of my upstairs bedroom facing east. The Rocky Mountains behind me and the plains in front. What I see is a black flowing horde of gross dark orc-like creatures literally crawling in a blanket from horizon to horizon coming towards me, very similar to how the scarab beetles swarmed in The Mummy (you cannot tell me that didn’t creep you out too). And I’m terrified. This dream came frequently all through my teens and twenties until one day it stopped. Not sure why.
In my second dream the setting is my childhood home, and the nuances stem from the same atmosphere. It always involves me being stalked, held prisoner or trapped in my home. Over the years it evolved slowly –I’m talking half a dozen dreams per year for 20 years, slowly. Starting with me not being able to defend myself, paralyzed eyelids, unable to hit or kick through limbs that felt like lead. Transitioning into many years where I was able to escape through the front door of the house to cross the street, always to the same neighbors’ house. Half of those years I was only able to reach their front door while looking back to know (not actually see) that my pursuer was coming for me, before waking. Later they began answering the door and I’d get in to the house begging them to barricade us in and call the police, while we heard banging on the doors and feared for our lives, then waking.
In some of these dreams my pursuer caught me and I’d be engaged in an often blind struggle for my life to fight or escape. Slowly over the years I went from inability to open my eyes and inability to move my limbs, eventually becoming able to keep my eyes open to see, and throw punches and kicks that were still anesthetically weak or inaccurate. I’d always wake with a pounding heart, sweating, crying out and feeling the need to search my house before trying to sleep again.
One night in my dream I actually struggled somewhat strongly with the bad guy. I also felt better when I woke up. Then not long after, I had what felt like my 675,237,842.04th dream, but in this one I stopped in my tracks, turned around and kicked the ass of my pursuer so hard, so brutally and so thoroughly that I woke up flailing. And happy.
Fuck that guy. Whatever he was, good riddance.
I haven’t had either of these dreams since. It’s been maybe 5-8 years? My only regret is that I cannot document what was going on in my life otherwise at the times these dreams changed.
And that’s just the subconscious. What about daily life?
Long story short, the point I want to make is that we all have reasons for our hang-ups and gremlins. They don’t simply appear from nowhere. Even robotic-ally successful people with perfect lives and utter self control and happiness don’t get that way in a vacuum. They’re not how they are magically different from what their life led them to be.
Tomorrow I’ll take you through one of the gremlins affecting my coaching progress. This gremlin looks like my dreams but remember…our dreams stem from our lives, so for me this isn’t a silly gremlin just because of a dream. It’s a life-long core battle.
No dream interpretation in Part 2 and it will all make sense in the end. 😉