02 Oct Self-protection sucks. Dream on purpose!
By Jeremy “Ferg” Ferguson, LMFT
Raise your hand if you sing in the shower. “I do!” Yeah, sometimes I lose track of time because of the jams. Give me a good set of lyrics and a shampoo bottle and I am rocking out. I remember when I was a kid and I would pretend to be performing on stage while listening to my favorite rock band. Sometimes I would pretend to try out for American Idol. (Loved that show!)
The imagination. What a wonderful gift. With it we can go places that we otherwise could not go… see ourselves doing things that life may otherwise tell us we cannot do. The imagination seems to be the place where our desire is most displayed. Think of the movies or video games you have been touched by. The scenes that seem to stir up some feelings in your heart. “What if that was me? I wish it were. What would that be like? What if I could have THAT?” These are the moments or dreams that invite us to explore our inner workings. When I was about to head off into college, I experienced some of the greatest wounds in my life. I was going to be a theology major at Oral Roberts University and I was VERY proud of that fact. They have a great program for those who want to head off into the ministry. (Something I still hope to do in the future.) It was during this time that I learned to be careful talking about my major to the “real adults” for fear of getting lectured…lectured about how stupid of a decision I was making. I was consistently told things like “That’s not a real profession” or “You better double major in business as well.” (Imagine their surprise when they discovered I minored in drama!)
“You don’t need a degree for that…”
Ouch. Yeah, not very encouraging AT ALL.
It was painful.
My heart learned the art of self-protection. “Don’t share your dreams…people will just trash them.” And it was at this time that I hardened my heart to older folks and their “words of wisdom”….. I told no one the things that were closest to my heart.
…I ended up in some ways not dreaming all together.
Self protection…I swear its like a poison to the heart that is 10 times more potent than hemlock. To be honest, I think that self-protection is more detrimental than the actual judgmental words we experience. It’s the FEAR of judgment or rejection. Fear of something that has not and may not even happen…it’s stifling of the soul…a killer of hope. “I can’t bring this into the light, people may throw crap at it.” I believe that our dreams are directly tied to our inner self, the core of who we are. And if we don’t allow ourselves to dream it is like cutting off a flower from the sunlight…soon we begin to wither away, not showing the true beauty that we have to offer.
When I started self-protecting, I found that a lot of my drive and my passion left with it. I became numb…I could not even feel my own dissatisfaction. I was a zombie of the highest order…just to protect myself from being dismissed.
I lost effectiveness.
Part of myself began gradually fading away with the hidden dream. Add painful experiences and further dismissive words about my dreams? Sounds like a great recipe for a self-protecting mess.
Have you noticed that we have certain desires or dreams that make us feel embarrassed? Ashamed? Its almost like there’s something out there floating in the air that’s telling us its “stupid to dream.”
I think it’s fear. Fear of being disappointed, maybe. More likely, fear that others may think we are stupid… or fear that we may confirm what we truly believe about ourselves. Fear wants to keep you stuck. Keep you from being a threat for the greater good of the world. It’s interesting what dreams and the feelings associated with those dreams can reveal. Maybe a core wound. Maybe a realization that life is not what we want it to be. Maybe it’s a sense of purpose. Allowing ourselves to dream can give us freedom to imagine things getting better. It can allow us to have something to look forward to. It’s an expression of hope and a way to allow your inner self to experience passion again. To experience REAL LIFE again.
Does any part of you relate to my experience? Or did you experience something else in your life that has told you to self-protect?
“Don’t you dare put your heart out there! It will only cause you more pain!”
Here’s a suggestion. (Because I always like giving some action steps for people to do) DREAM ON PURPOSE. Set aside time to sit in a room with a warm cup of pumpkin something (because it’s fall), a note pad (or writing device that you prefer), and begin to think about things that you would like to see happen in your life. Notice if you have any doubts pop up or hesitancies. If you have trouble conjuring up your desires here are some questions that may help you in the process.
– When was the last time I felt a sense of passion or desire?
– Where is a place that would be exciting to go visit? What is it about the place that makes me feel this way?
– What is something about my job that I love?
– What is it about my hobbies that I love doing?
– What is it about my favorite movies that resonates with me?
– What pumps me up? What is it about that thing that gets me pumped?
– When I was a kid, what did I spend time imagining?
– Why does this song or soundtrack elicit emotions for me? (For me, it’s the Lord of the Rings soundtrack)
Write these things down. I would even submit these things to God and ask him to guide you on your journey. There is no one who wants you to dream more than God. He wants you to have those desires. (Psalms 37:4) Sometimes having music that stirs the soul can help you explore too.
Don’t be afraid or ashamed to dream. To sing in the shower. To pretend to explore space in a rocket made out of your couch cushions. Don’t be afraid to explore desire…to feel it well up. It’s a powerful force. You may consider exploring these things with a family member, friend, partner, or your therapist. (I know a couple of good ones if you need a recommendation.) *wink* *wink*
NOW GO DREAM!