I fear I’m going to start this post by checking how many times I’ve used “fear” in previous blog titles.
Anybody brave enough to guess that number?
The number is …..
Sixteen. (And those posts are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).
Does anybody here fear numbers?
My 16-year-old son (who does not read this blog, these days) does NOT fear numbers, as illustrated by this story when he was three (almost four) years old (from NoteBookLand):
Aaron’s pre-school teacher, Alyssa, said that when the kids at school were asked what they were thankful for, some said, “my parents,” or “my toys,” or “my house,” or “my kitty.” Aaron said, “I’m thankful for numbers, because I can count with them.”
When I was looking for that early Aaron story, I found this much earlier one, which I do not fear to share with you, here:
Aaron and Dada were telling stories at bedtime. Aaron told a story where Aaron was having a dream about a dinosaur and his Dada told him that dinosaurs really weren’t there. Then Aaron told another story about a dinosaur who was having a dream about Aaron and who woke up scared from his dream, and the Daddy Dinosaur told the dinosaur to not be afraid, because no Aarons were really there.
As a psychotherapist, I often encourage people (especially those who have encountered frightening things in their lives) to think about how safe they are, in the moment. People — when they take a breath and observe all the realities of their senses — often find that the present moment is actually safer than they are thinking and feeling.
I fear it is sometimes difficult to take one’s own advice. That is, I have been fearing some not-really-dangerous things lately, including:
- running out of storage space,
- machines breaking,
- losing things,
- interpersonal miscommunication, and
- making mistakes.
Also, I fear, I have NOT been scared of some news-worthy dangers, including:
- Ebola (and other diseases),
- financial scams, and
- murderous people.
I fear that sort of thing happens, when I stop listening to the news. (When I stop listening to the news, I definitely feel safer.)
If you fear generalizations about human beings, beware of the next sentence.
Being vigilant about danger can help us survive, so it makes sense for our minds to be fear-focused (although we might get confused about what we should be fearing, which can be scary).
This time of the year, there’s plenty to fear, all around:
Do any of those things scare you? Do any of them help you feel safer?
If any of them did scare you, what else might help you feel safer, in the moment?
For me, music always helps.
(“Not While I’m Around” from Stephen Sondheim‘s Sweeney Todd, sung by Barbra Streisand, found here on YouTube.)
Here’s a live version of that song, by Jamie Cullum:
Last night, I had a dream. Do you fear dreams? I do not fear other people’s dreams; indeed, I welcome them into individual and group therapy. However, I may fear my own dreams (which may be why I sometimes fear going to sleep).
My dream last night was not scary, although there was a moment in the dream where I was afraid of something.
I fear I am not being clear or detailed enough, right now, about my dream. Here it is:
I was outside, talking to people who were standing and walking around in some sort of public gathering place. At times, I was having conversations with individuals — some of whom seemed to be in charge of things. At other times, I would address many people at the same time, as though I was imparting some wisdom. At one point, I had a revelation. I thought, “in order to help bring about helpful growth in people and in society, I just need to make very small changes, like these: (1) changing one letter in certain words and (2) increasing numbers I use, just by making them one larger. That’s all I need to do and … I can do that!” As I had this epiphany, I could see things very clearly and I heard a person standing near me describe their own sense of deja vu. I thought, “This is all telling me that I am having a true and helpful thought.” I felt happy, safe, and joyful.
Then, I had my moment of doubt and fear, as I thought: “If I tell people this, will they think I am too self-important? Will they think I am delusional?”
When I woke up after that dream, I felt good. I wasn’t sure I was going share that dream with anyone but, I suppose, I am now telling it — in a way — to the world.
As I was writing the dream down for this post, here were my associations to that dream:
- I work with people individually and in groups. That was happening in the dream.
- When I act like an expert, I fear that I will be seen as wrong and/or as seeing myself as too important. That was happening in the dream.
- I do believe that creating small changes can lead to bigger and important change. That was happening in the dream.
- In my work, I invite people to tell their stories differently, as a way of creating more self-esteem and moving towards life goals. That is my association to changing one letter in a word, in the dream.
- In my blog, I increase the number in the title by one, every day.
Those are my associations with that dream. When I work in therapy with other people’s dreams, I ask this question:
If that were your dream, what might it mean?
I hope you feel safe enough here to respond to that question, or to share any dreams of your own.
Here is ONE MORE three-year-old Aaron story, about change:
Aaron, Mama, and Dada were driving by a restaurant which was all boarded up with wood. When they were talking about how the restaurant was being changed, Aaron said, “Yes, that restaurant is changing. It’s changing into a …. tree!”
Is there any fear about how I might end this post? The endings, here, are almost always gratitude.
Thanks to everybody who helped make this post possible and to you — of course! — for any fears, safety, or anything in-between, that you bring here today.