If some dreams just mix up the ingredients of our waking life into a jumble of apparently random events adding a few relatives, strangers, memories and visions of the future for spice, then popping them in the oven of our sleep to be cooked regardless of whether we remember them or not, doesn’t mean they are unimportant and ‘just’ dreams.
What it means is they are simply not available to us to think about or dwell upon in the same way that the ones which we remember are.
So what? So when we do think about the activity of dreaming than rather any particular dream, we have to wonder what it is about this human being business that whole worlds can whorl around inside our sleeping heads which we are not even aware of.
Again, so what? So when we are awake and make conscious attempts to have full control of ourselves instead of just accepting what and how and who we are, we are doomed to failure.
So am I crazily suggesting we behave like slobs? Not even a little bit. What I am suggesting is that we can trust ourselves. We don’t have to bully ourselves. Instead we just need to listen to what we are feeling and hear it. For example if/when we are struggling with eating disordered patterns, instead of trying to consciously impose an ideology of restraint upon ourselves with psychological whips and jackboots, we just listen to our tummies telling us when they are feeling too empty or when they are feeling full enough and then show them (our tummies) that we have heard what they are saying to us by responding appropriately (eating some more if they say we haven’t had enough, or stopping eating if they are telling us we have had enough) we will start to free ourselves from being trapped in the depressing cycle of having to ‘be in control’ and inevitably then losing it.
Yes, I’ve just made a quantum leap from talking about dreams we don’t remember into a parallel world in which we can trust our feelings instead of trying to control them. But it can be done!
So much major mental illness behaviour can be understood in terms of well-intentioned if misguided attempts by our waking consciousness to have more control over things within ourselves that are actually beyond our control, like dreams or feelings to name but the two I have talked about here.
And there are many more. So when/if you notice a kind of rigid inflexibility in your thinking then it can help to get back in touch with what you are feeling. That may not be easy. The feelings may too often be almost intolerable. If so, you may want to consider seeking professional help, rather than obsessively avoiding them with the distractions of behavioural self-control.
Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre
For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/