One of the reasons I find dream exploration so helpful in sessions is because it allows an individual to understand themselves in a deeper, more profound way. Dream exploration allows for a greater understanding of how we see the world, what is important to us, what symbols hold meaning for us, and what patterns we play out in our lives. Through understanding these elements of our self, we can be more conscious of honoring those elements in a balanced way.
An individual I knew long ago used to have a very difficult time saying no. This person would over book themselves, which would inevitably lead to internal stress and fatigue that would leech into their external world. This person didn’t have a saint-complex, it wasn’t that they wanted to help everyone and therefore wouldn’t say no; rather, it was that everything sounded so exciting to them that they didn’t want to say no. In other words, they didn’t understand their limits because they couldn’t see their limits.
One day this individual and I met for coffee, he was ten minutes late because he had forgotten about the coffee date after double booking himself the evening prior. After apologizing to me the individual exclaimed, “Cammi, last night I had the strangest dream!”. Which, of course, got me excited. I offered to listen to the dream and see if we could sort it’s meaning out.
The dream had been about the individual searching for a teacup in order to pour a cup of Earl Grey tea for himself. He was very upset he couldn’t find the cup in the dream and worried that the tea would go cold.
When I asked the individual about what the different elements of the dream could possible mean to him, the themes, patterns, and desires of his psyche became clear. The Earl Grey tea reminded him of his mother, who would drink tea every Sunday morning on the veranda when he was a child. The memory was a happy one and gave the individual a sense of calm and peace. The tea cup was a special item because it was a very dainty piece of china that had been reserved for special occasions. The individual realized that his desire to pour himself tea came from his unconscious desire to say yes to himself, rather than saying yes to everyone else. He felt that taking time for himself would be selfish, but deep down he really wanted to take the time to sit out and drink tea with himself, as his mother had done when he was young. The tea cup he was searching for, but couldn’t find was symbolic of his own special-ness, a beautiful vessel that was both rare and delicate and was brought out on special occasions. From this the individual realized that saying yes to himself, rather than everyone else was not only necessary, but could be very exciting! This one-hour coffee session sparked a huge change in how the individual lived his life. For one, he went out and bought himself a beautiful china tea cup! But more importantly, he scheduled in at least an hour every week to have tea with himself.
This story illustrates the power of dream exploration, and how understanding yourself, can help you create a more balanced way of being. All dreams are subject to the dreamer’s interpretation, so the dream wouldn’t have had the same meaning for another person, but for this individual it was the push he needed to realize he needed to take time for himself.
How did taking an hour every week to be with himself help?
1) It allowed him to reflect on his week without any other interpretations, in essence he had an hour to fully be himself.
2) It gave him practice at saying no to others so that he could say yes to himself (when you say yes to someone you are inevitably saying no to someone else).
3) It connected him to his mother who had been deceased for some time. The drinking of Earl Grey tea became a ritual, which is hugely important in a society that is becoming increasingly devoid of ritual.
4) It allowed him to honor himself and recognize that he is worthy of his time.
I hope this story inspired you to explore you dreams, honor your unique way of being, and to take time to joyfully be with yourself.
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