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Four Fears That Prevent Our Learning From Dreams - And What To Do About Them - by Ron Masa, Ph.D.
Why do so many people wonder what their dreams mean ... but never actually find out? If our "dreams are nightly letters from God" as Jung's student, von Franz argued, why are so few bothering to read their mail?
While most people are curious about their dreams - most people are also afraid of their dreams. They sense that dreams are powerful and truth filled. The way many people act, Jack Nicholson's famous character (Colonel Jessep) might as well be referring to our dreams when he growls: "You can't handle the truth!"
Dreams convey profound truths that we have not yet noticed or admitted to ourselves. Asking what your dream means is a little like asking the doctor what your x-rays reveal. Sometimes we do - and at the same time really do Not - want to know what is going on inside us. Dreams are nightly x-rays of our whole psyche; they reveal interior facts in a cryptic form it takes expert help to decode. And the news could be good or not so very.
The truly good news is that every dream guides us toward health and wholeness. Every dream contains some form of hope, offers some strategy of adaptation, reveals some pathway to improvement. No dream ever arrives to mock or shame or demoralize. Dreams always affirm life.
But truth can liberate and truth can frighten. Poet David Whyte describes poetry - a close cousin of dreaming - as "the art of overhearing yourself say things from which you can never retreat." Once we overhear the truths in our dreams, they may not allow us to retreat into ignorance.
Four kinds of fear can oppose our healthy curiosity about the wisdom in dreams:
We all have a shadow of denied selfhood and part of dream work includes becoming more fully aware of who we are. This calls for courage as well as curiosity. Dream work can be scary, but so is asking for a job you really want or telling someone you love them; scary and valuable. Good dream groups create a safe and supportive context for self discovery. The only thing worse than learning our own secrets ... is knowing how visible they are to everyone else while we remain in the dark.
Learning our hidden truths releases us from the primary causes of shame, from the failures they create, and from fear itself. And, those higher potentials within us, our "white shadow" may be more hidden from us than our weaknesses. Dreams bring us important truths, some very good news, and a chance to be whole again. Can you handle the truth?
Ron Masa, Ph.D. wrote columns and articles on dreams while in private practice for 25 years. He and Debbie Hart co-lead the University Of Yourself: "Helping You Hear the Guide Inside". Click here