Conform Conforming Conformity

One of the most powerful, and largely unconscious urges we have, is to conform to the way of life, beliefs, clothing and styles lived by the people around us. Even if we are an non-conformist there are still huge areas of our mind, beliefs and view of the world that conform to well established patterns. So if there are elements of your dream in which you do not conform, or you are aware of yourself conforming, it marks great change. This is because you are becoming aware of your conformity, and might thus change it if you wished. See Archetype of the Paradigm

Conformity has influence way beyond clothing or the way you speak. Abraham was told by God to kill his son. In the end this was not required, but this theme of conformity to authority was obviously a factor in people’s lives throughout the millennia.  The following statement by Arthur explains something of this.

In my twenties I found that quite irrationally I was beating my son and feeling at odds with him. This so disturbed me that I started seeking the cause of it and undertook radical psychotherapy. Gradually I uncovered deeper layers of myself that I had been totally unaware of. I came to understand that I had been raised in a punitive society. At school we were punished even as infants with heavy caning. Although it was never explained to us, the lesson I learned was that unless you did as authority told you to you would be severely punished. My mother had also lived this out in the way she had treated me.

These life lessons go in deep, and because they were never properly conscious, cannot be re-evaluated. But through the therapy I gradually brought these things to light. I saw that I had been brought up at the tail end of a period of history during which people who did not obey were shot down, imprisoned, or worse. So having learned this I was unwittingly training my eldest son to learn this terrible lesson – obey or be punished. In doing so I was crushing his emerging sexuality and rebellious spirit, all in the name of conformity.

The turning point of this in Arthur’s life can be seen in the following dream.

I was attending an adult class with about 20/30 people, mostly men, in it. The teacher came in. He said something and a man asked a question, or spoke back. The teacher got really angry and hit him with a walking stick. Someone else in the class remarked on the beating and was attacked also. A man sitting next to me on my left said that if the teacher hit him he wouldn’t sit and take it. But as the second man was being hit my companion said something like – Bloody hell. The teacher landed two mighty blows on his arse, but he didn’t move. I said in horror, “Good God,” whereupon the teacher moved to hit me. I stood up and said, “If you hit me with that thing I will whack you in the fucking ear.” I felt fired up ready to fight. He backed off and threatened to get the headmaster in. I told him to try it. He said if I could do better, do it. So I took over the class and it went really well.

Then I seemed to be witnessing a young man making love to a girl in a room. A teacher burst into the room and got angry with the couple. The young man was not at all cowed. He said, “You burst into a private room without knocking. We happen to be young adults. I want an apology.”

The teacher was silent for a time then apologised. The young man then said, “Thank you Sir. I am proud to acknowledge you as my teacher.”

Arthur was himself hit with sticks the thickness of walking sticks, and witnessed it happening to other boys. The dream shows him changing his relationship with this, from cowed acceptance to standing up for himself and his human sexual feelings.

The pressure to conform is evident in most cultures. It is seen in police action, governmental oppression and religious intolerance.

Useful Questions and Hints:

In what way is my dream showing me bowing to authority?

In what ways do I conform with peers or other pressures?

In my dream what am I learning about conformity?

See – Avoid Being VictimsTechniques for Exploring your Dreams

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