For years I had a recurring dream about a plane crashing. It was always on the horizon far away and terrifying. I felt overwhelmed by it and it brought about feelings of being out of control. As I began my journey into psychotherapy, as a client and as a trainee, I noticed as I deeply explored parts of my psyche and experiences that the dream began to change. It occurred maybe once a month and each time I noticed a difference. The crash got closer. It happened gradually but was fascinating to me to see how the work I was doing consciously was impacting the subconscious narrative that played out in my sleep.
Another really interesting thing I noticed was that as the crash got closer, it got less frightening. As it got closer, I had more control, not less, and more agency to help. It wasn’t ever a pleasant dream but my sense of overwhelm and lack of control lessened and I saw ways to deal with the fallout of the crash. Helping others to move out of the way or helping clear up the aftermath. The last time I had the dream the crash happened in my back garden and I clearly remember the sense of calm I felt as I got into action dealing with it.
As anxiety dreams go it’s pretty common. I have been able to read lots of messages reflecting circumstances in my conscious life and it has given me a great sense of confidence to know that I have the mental strength to deal with whatever the fallout might be when shit gets real! My conscious and subconscious brains have been in dialogue and by listening and tuning it has been a source of growth and greater strength and resilience for me.
It feels like a bit of a departure for me to speak about therapy work in my coaching space (though my feeling is they will never truly sit apart (see The Coaching Relationship blog post!) but an interesting thing happened the other day that I am choosing to take a lesson from and which I felt was worth sharing.
I was at a National Trust property with my two boys. We had enjoyed a rare sunny day outside in the grounds and had enjoyed seeing the frequent appearances of light aircrafts taking off for pleasure rides from the nearby airfield. As we walked along the long driveway back to the car we saw a small group of people had gathered and were staring up into the sky. I heard the sound of a small aeroplane but it sounded different from normal. As we approached my heart started to race and I gripped the buggy handle tight as I repeated in my head, “Please be OK, please be OK…’
Flashes of my recurring dream came into my mind and I was very anxious that we would see a plane in distress. We got to the group and looked up through the gap in the tree to see a small plane joyfully looping-the-loop, again and again.
I felt this little plane playing about in the sky somehow contained a message for me and I reflected on what I thought it could mean. In a continuation of the narrative of my sequence of dreams it felt like a fitting end to the tale and a parable-worthy lesson for life. Not only can we handle whatever comes our way when we are able to see it clearly, feel it, be in it and create actions that help us and others. There is also the potential to feel joy and freedom and a playful exhilaration in taking on those death defying lurches into the unknown and the dangerous.
It doesn’t have to end in disaster, it can end in a large ark upwards, a loop, and another go around. Higher, faster, wider, more thrilling, and all the time we remain intact, in control and dare I say it, joyful.