“While different schools of thought believe that dreams exist for varied reasons, I personally believe that dreams are portals and entryways to our psyches and that some of the richest, most valuable information we need about situations in our waking lives can be found by exploring the content of your dreams.”
Last night, I had one of those dreams.
Complete with color and sound, the setting and surrounding details seemed normal, even realistic. There were no wispy edges or cloudy, shadowy figures. In fact, it was a scene that would be considered common on any given day.
Sitting in the front seat of my car, I was approached by a continuing stream of people I didn’t know. One by one, they would insist that I drive them to a particular destination. Then they’d open the rear door and slide in, making themselves right at home. I had no idea where all these people came from or why they had picked me to be their personal chauffeur. But they kept arriving, waiting in line for their turn to tell me exactly where they wanted to go — right now.
They were a diverse group of folks.
An eclectic group of humans, they seemed to have nothing in common, with the exception of demanding I acknowledge their presence and take them to their desired destination. Confused and more than a little irritated, I quickly replied I had no intention of taking them anywhere, and instructed each new passenger to get out of my car. After a steely-eyed stare accompanied by a few impolite words, they’d reluctantly slide out the door, only to be replaced by someone new.
As my frustration level grew, so did my impatience.
Even worse, my verbal retorts were becoming more heated. But my vocal attacks didn’t stop the flow of demanding passengers. Unable to restrain my inner turmoil, I considered using physical tactics and maneuvers to eject all of them into the stratosphere. Oh, the things we can get away with in dreams …
“Dreams are often seen as the product of our subconscious; whether frightening or enjoyable, the content of our dreams informs us about our conscious lives. They act as messengers and highlight areas we need to address or pay close attention to.”
In my early morning reflection of the night’s visions, I tried to work through the possible meaning of the dream.
Initially, I had no idea what had prompted this particular situation to rise from the shadows of my mind. What unfinished mental or emotional business had fueled such a disturbing circus act? Still restless from the after-effects of the dream — and struggling for clarity from too many unanswered questions — I slipped out of bed and started my day.
And then things began to make sense.
After a few hours of typical morning chaos, a flash of insight suggested a few possibilities for my restless night. All those annoying people in my dreams attempting to push me around represented interruptions, distractions, and intrusions — all the unwelcome visitors constantly vying for my attention on a daily basis.
I realized every time I gave the slightest credence to those uninvited disruptions — in whatever form they appeared — I’d be pulled just a little bit further away from my goals. And as long as I continued letting others overload my life with their problems, I’d never be able to stop the relentless flow. Unless I figured out how to take control and find a way to keep outside influences from derailing my progress.
In full disclosure …
Before I dismiss all responsibility for my dream and likely cause, I confess there may be a degree of personal liability for some of the chaos in my life. In truth, a few of those interruptions are self-inflicted, for example, phone calls I decide to answer, emails I choose to open, or invitations I can’t resist.
But at least I have some say in whether or not to spend my time with those particular activities — and people. My real problem — and the underlying issue creating all my anxiety and stress — was not being able to deflect all the other outliers making themselves comfortable in my life. And their presence had infused my usual friendly disposition with frustration and irritation, resulting in a less-than-polite attitude.
Here are four safeguards I’m putting in place to keep my sanity — and my time — to myself.
- Pause before responding or replying to any request. A show of enthusiasm is usually considered a positive response when asked a question or for an opinion. However, if this is always your go-to reaction — regardless of the circumstance — your overly-joyous attitude may suggest you’re onboard with whatever the other person is suggesting. Certainly, you can show optimism for another’s direction or purpose. Just be sure you follow-up your positive display of support with a caveat in the event you don’t personally want to be involved or participate. For example, “That’s wonderful and I know how important that project is to you. Thank you for sharing your good news and all the best with meeting your goals.”
- Decide the cost and potential benefit of becoming entangled in other’s issues. While some problems are best shared with others who can offer advice, experience, or knowledge, there are always those who cross the lines of friendship, courtesy, or appropriate behavior. Learn how to recognize the difference by trusting in your instincts. If you’re willing and able to help — without obligation or regret —start by finding out more about the source of the problem, the involvement of the person asking you for help, and the ultimate outcome that person is hoping to achieve. Then either jump in with both feet, or gently decline and guide them toward another possible avenue for resolution.
- Set boundaries and guidelines for those activities and people you choose to engage with. Whether we like them or not, boundaries are necessary to maintain positive relationships and keep priorities in their place. Typically, when we choose to be a part of a project, team, or circle of influence, there are corresponding guidelines and parameters set in place upfront. Whether or not we agree to adjust those boundaries is up to us — and no one else.
- Put your own needs and goals first. It may sound selfish, but in reality, keeping our own vision front-and-center is an effective way to avoid being diverted off-track. Yes, our goals and priorities will ebb-and-flow, and our approach to achieving success is best accomplished when we’re flexible in thought and deed. But the concept of committing to your personal best should remain at the core of your actions, values, and principles. While being open to other people’s ideas and suggestions is a good way to expand your relationships and connections, keep in mind it’s best not to be persuaded to abandon your own ship to swim toward another’s boat.
As for my car, I’m not taking any chances.
Tomorrow I’m going to the dealer and upgrading the alarm system. And from now on, I’m keeping the car doors locked at all times.
© 2021 Jill Reid. All Rights Reserved.