The Truth About Dreaming

My Asserter Friend

Yesterday I attended a dream workshop given by Victoria Rabinowe and Naomi Epel. The dream I presented featured an Asserter type friend of mine who creates fireworks wherever she goes. Another character was a sulky woman who may have represented a part of myself (I’m an Observer type) that wants more attention and feels misunderstood. Is the message of the dream: 1) to pay attention to my behavior when I feel ignored? Or 2) to be more assertive and tell people what I’m thinking so they can’t misunderstand me? I choose #2.  I can go out and interact more in the world if I need more attention, like my friend in the dream does—instead of passively accepting being ignored. The Truth is that I can create my own kind of positive fireworks. My dreams will probably remind me if I forget. Now I have this assertive friend to guide me in my dreams. She’s been in several lately but I didn’t know why. I’ll go back and check them out.

Yesterday we were expecting a small rainstorm and the wind was blowing. This unusual weather for this time of year inspired me to think about things… like what is the Truth? My son had phoned me a little while before about an article he was writing about our criminal justice system and how it doesn’t compensates the victim. In his plan the criminal would work to pay the victim back. That would both help restore what he took and teach him what havoc he had created by his behavior.

It’s the same principle as having your kids work to pay for the window they break and help install a new one, for example. If they fix the damage, they’ll be more careful next time. It will help them be honest about what can happen when they throw rocks or play with balls too close to the house.

Bernie Madoff’s clients should have suspected his Ponzi scheme when he promised them such huge profits, way out of line compared to everyone else’s. Greed can turn our heads away from seeing the Truth of the investments we make.

When the subject of dreams comes up, it surprises me how many people dismiss them as having no meaning. My own experience of writing down and drawing over 1750 dreams tells me this is not true. I have also seen the intelligence behind the dreams presented by other people in hundreds of dream classes and groups I’ve attended, the best way I’ve found to work on dreams. Sometimes dreams give us models to follow or tell us to pay attention to something important. When people dismiss the validity of dreams, I feel they’re ignoring a potentially important part of their lives.

Among other gifts, my nighttime dreams were directly responsible for creating a new career for me 15 years ago.

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What’s Virtuous about Fighting for Kitties?

Asserter carpenterLong before I heard about the Enneagram personality system, I knew I needed to model myself more after the personality type I was later to learn is called the “Asserter,” as seen in the example above with the tattoo on his arm. He tells it like it is and is more than willing to fight over his truth. He loves kittens. Unlike his co-worker, he doesn’t consider this affection an affliction. It doesn’t lessen his manhood one iota. So there! Good for him. I admire a person who honors truth! This decisive, confident archetype of the Asserter was well known to me for most of my life without having to be taught about it. So the Enneagram made sense: it imparted truths of human nature. The nine types were there to see and to check out. They weren’t arbitrary. I saw them in the people I came in touch with every day.

Being an Observer with a strong Romantic wing, I’m fond of authenticity. I’m an INFP in the MBTI system, which means I’m a soul-searcher, an artistic type. I’ve been writing books and drawing cartoons for 15 years and I play the piano. I love the arts. But for the past few months I’ve been doing little but marketing my newest book, “The Career Within You.” The Observer in me is curious and enjoys new areas of learning. I’ve learned about Twitter, Facebook, blogging, Flickr, You Tube, and a few other marketing tools. I spend hours each day on these things and some of it is fun. My dreams at night seem to be telling me I’m clogging up my creative side, though. It’s true–I’ll have ideas about future projects and start on them only to abandon them for some deadline having to do with marketing.

I’m like the guy in the cartoon. He probably wants to go home and play with his kitten. He’s not a wimp and neither am I. We just know what we like. He’s telling the world about his passion and I’m telling the world about mine right now: the Enneagram. There are many reasons I love it, too many to lay out here. But two big reasons are: •1)  the Enneagram pinpointed my type for me, the Observer, so that instead of feeling on the outside, I was comforted to know that my “group” was seen. • 2) the Enneagram has possibilities for great good in the world as a tool for healing racial, cultural, and religious divides. It is already saving and healing individuals and groups and I want to see its usefulness expand. I think my books are good for that. If you’re one of my fans, you can help with my social marketing project in many ways. A fun way is to go to my CARTOON SHARING PROJECT on my home page, lift the html of some of your favorite cartoons, and put them on your own web site or other forums and help spread the word that way or in emails.

I Get By With a Little Help From My Dreams

Lady with hanky If my dreams were removed from my life’s history, I wouldn’t know who I was.

Dreams started shaping my life starting with the first dream I can remember at age 4 or 5.  This dream influenced me to feel separate enough from my family to go inside and look for meaning in art and music. In adulthood I began taking some dream classes and drawing my dreams. Getting practice drawing sparked an interest in creating cartoons, which led to trying to produce greeting cards with my friend Renee. The greeting cards didn’t succeed, but we realized there was a need for an accessible introductory Enneagram book just then, so we turned to writing one ourselves, using my drawings for non-verbal learning and to spice it up with humor. “The Enneagram Made Easy”  led to several more books and hundreds more cartoons. So in a practical way my dreams created an enjoyable second career for me following the career in music that I started out with.

Here on the left is a part of one of my dream drawings.

There are two other reasons why I love dreams. First, by paying attention to almost every dream I have, and by taking some of them to groups where I can hear what other people have to say about them, I learn  things I need to learn about myself, for example to be stronger, to take certain things more seriously, and to look at parts of myself I might be neglecting. As of today I’ve recorded 1710 dreams. Several themes stand out and certain symbols recur. When their meaning becomes clear, many things tumble into place. My dreams have given me major gifts.

Second, studying my dreams and the dreams of those in the dream groups I belong to is a fascinating activity–an  interesting glimpse into the psyche. I marvel at my teachers’ gifts at interpreting and intuiting dreams’ symbolism and meaning. It’s  interesting to watch the methods my own unconscious mind comes up with “behind my back” to get points across to the me I know myself to be. Dreams trick us into taking them literally, when that’s probably rarely where the real meaning is. So it seems crucial to me to have input from at least 5 or 6 other people to help me get the point.

Would I like to have a career as a dream writer or teacher? If I were as gifted at working with dreams as some of the dream teachers I have worked with I’d consider it. I’m surprised at how many people think dreams are not important, that they’re just the mind’s clutter from the day. I find my dreams to be more intelligent than anything I can come up with in my waking life after I delve into them to figure them out. “The Career Within You” (available December 29, 2009) will probably emphasize dream-related careers in future editions as more people see the importance of our dream life to our psychological health and wholeness.