Conflicts we feel or meet in our dreams are nearly always conflicts with ourself. This is not usually recognised, and so I quote a rather long example to show how it is obviously the man’s conflict within him.
Example: In a dream I had been talking with, or in some way communicating with a man who I seemed to respect, perhaps as one would respect a teacher. He had asked me to go up into what I felt was an attic to retrieve something. The attic, I seemed to know, was quite high above me. Unlike the attic in many houses there was not a passage or room underneath it to make access easy.
I realised I needed a torch because the attic would be dark, and I had in my left hand one of those cylindrical, rubber coated torches. I was just about to begin the ascent to the attic, when a man on my left, a rather more heavily built, shorter, and rougher looking man, grabbed at the torch. I realised that he wanted it to go into the attic. I felt completely in opposition to this, and grabbed his hand with my right hand, levering it off the torch. This woke me because I was in fact struggling with my own left-hand. I had hold of my left little finger, and was bending it backward viciously. This amused me because it was so obviously a personal conflict – a struggle between my left and right hands, between my more refined and less refined self.
I explored the dream and the following is verbatim record of it.
I wish to explore the less defined man in the dream where I struggle for the torch.
The man: I’m not a man who easily puts things into words. I find this difficult. I’m someone who lives through my body more than my thoughts. But I feel as if I had enough of being overlooked, of not being taken notice of. I am angry. No one is asking me to go and look in the attic, so the only way I can express myself is to try to grab the torch. This is a direct sort of way of saying what I want.
I want to be given the chance. I want to be seen. I’ve being holding myself back and I don’t want to do that any more. I’m going to reach out for the things that I want. It’s not everyday that I have such a strong urge. Mostly I will just get on with the things that need doing even though nobody notices me or gives me any praise. But I don’t want to be like that any more. I want to stand equal with others, even though I am different. I’m not like Tony who lives a lot of his life in his thoughts.
(I am now asking this dream character – myself – who he is. I want to be able to recognise him in myself.)
The man: As I said, I am not very good with words. I don’t have any words to say who I am. My guess is that for most of my life I have just accepted that I do what I am asked to do. I get on with what is in front of me, and I suppose this is because I’ve never thought there was anything different to that. I never felt that I had any right to be any different.
(So I am now asking this character what it is he begins to feel himself to be.)
The man: I feel myself to be a strong man. Perhaps I’m a man with rather strong feelings that are not very subtle. But I exist. I want to have as much recognition, as much right to choices as other people. I feel ready to fight for what I want. Maybe that’s the only way I know of getting things.
I think my talents are that I can do as I am asked. I can work and work, on and on, without question. I have worked like that all my life. I haven’t questioned that need, that drive.
I’m not questioning it now, I just wanted to be allowed more fully into was happening.
As myself I feel this is a part of me that has enabled me to work year after year without any bitterness or difficulty. It is a talent in me that enables me to stick at a task year after year. The thinking, planning part of me sets the task, and then this patient and working part of me just gets on with it. I am therefore curious as to what the task before us is in connection with the attic. I have no problem about sharing that, but I will fight if somebody tries to take control without agreement.