Using symbols to change life problems

One of the major aspects of dreams is their representation in symbols and drama of inner conflicts and problems. Because some dreams resolve life long problems, we can assume the dreams that do not solve personal difficulties, may at least be attempts to do so.

The problem solving dreams present a life situation in the form of an external event in which we participate, usually with deep emotional and mental involvement. The transformation in ourselves occurs because we are led through the experience and events of the dream to the point where a shift occurs. The dreams that do not solve problems are those that simply replay the difficulty without moving on to a change in the events to bring a shift of feelings and realisation. Once we realise that this is a fundamental process our mind uses in problem solving, we can take it up consciously and make use of it, extending its efficiency far beyond the level occurring without conscious help.

To put this into plain language, supposing painful childhood events had left someone with the habit of building a powerful shield between themselves and others. Suppose this barrier was like a great metal shield they erected every time they felt slightly hurt, thus stopping them from prolonged intimacy with others. To attempt a change in this habit, one need not wait for a dream. If the situation has been seen, the first step is to create a pictorial representation of it just as a dream does. So in this case the person could be depicted as having powerful great doors which could be shut whenever anyone came close.

The next step is to act this out alone or with one or two other people who are sympathetic to the technique. It can even be done by imagining – fantasising – the action. The person could act out closing their powerful doors and excluding people.

So far this simply represents the negative habit the person has built into their life, but this is important because it makes it real for the person. The next step should be taken slowly, and with as much openness to emotions and delicate feeling responses as possible. This is to enact a shift from the problematical position. So the person might try opening their doors – but not automatically – with sensitivity to what fears, emotions they experience in doing so.

This should be repeated until it can be done with ease and without negative fears and hesitations.

An example of this is seen in the following: A little Kuwaiti boy survived the Iraqi invasion of his country and was living without his father, a prisoner of war. But a recurring nightmare, of Saddam Hussein stabbing his brother to death, was prolonging the boys trauma.

One night he had a different dream: This time he carried a knife, becoming a hero who kills his nemesis. The emotional weight he carried disappeared. Altering recurring nightmares may hold a key to recovery for many victims of trauma, says Dr. Deidre Barrett, a professor of behavioral medicine and hypnotherapy at Harvard Medical School. Barrett spent a month in Kuwait City after the Gulf War training other therapists to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.  She says, “Just changing something in the dream gives people such a sense of mastery in controlling things.”

Another great example can be seen in Example 15 – Life Changes

See Opening to Life; Street WisdomSecrets of Power Dreaming – Techniques for Exploring your Dreams and – Habits

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