A New Conversation About Dreams: Who's Directing Your Life?
While aspects of you encourage, “Go for your dreams,” simultaneously other parts threaten, “Don’t you dare.” A cast of characters lives inside of you and at different times you may receive conflicting or contradictory messages. If you are want to be happy, successful, and fulfilled, consider putting your “dreamer” in the director’s chair.
What are the voices inside of you saying? As you turn the volume up on the voice of your dreamer and down on the voice of your doubter, you can practice discernment allowing for greater clarity. To assist you in hearing these voices, let’s set up a simple scenario. Picture something you want, something that matters to you. Choose a personal or professional dream and consider how these various parts of you might respond.
Dreamer – The dreamer inside says, “What if…” and is open to a creative process without over-analyzing it. This is the part of you that imagines, believes in possibilities, has hope, and seeks kindred spirits. Dreamers talk about their ideas with intention, clarity, and passion. Great dreamers get others excited about their vision. And most importantly, successful dreamers take action to make their dreams a reality.
Doubter – This voice is often heard saying such things as, “I don’t think this is a good idea.” The doubter provides concern touting, “But what if…” and imagines the worst. If you crank the volume up it can even become annihilating with accusations shouting things like, “Are you out of your mind?” William Shakespeare said, “Our doubts are traitors.” Carlos Castaneda said, “In order to experience the magic of life, you must banish the doubt.” My favorite quote on this subject is in The Prophet where Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Doubt is a feeling too lonely to know that Faith is its twin brother.”
Realist – “Be realistic…” Modulate the doubter down a notch or two and it becomes the essential voice of the realist. This part wants to know, “What’s the plan?” including where is the time and money coming from. However, in the early phase of dreaming, you may not know. The challenge is not to allow the realist to immediately turn into a doubter who might judge or obliterate your idea. Honor this voice by (to the best of your ability) giving it the information it needs. If you ignore or reject it, it will cleverly agitate or distract you. Being realistic offers prudence and makes you do your homework but if you are overly realistic or go to strategy too soon, you will most likely compromise the dream and kill your passion.
Visionary – This voice says, “Anything is possible so let’s dream big!” These are the leaders and people we look up to and admire. They have learned the process of realizing their dreams and embody what it means to be a big dreamer. Setbacks or failures do not stop them. Simply put, a visionary has a vision and invites others to join them. They are found in all walks of life and we are often so inspired when they are in the presence of a true visionary that we sign up just to be near them or part of what they’re doing.
A visionary is not defined by the size of the dream since dreams are precious and come in all sizes, shapes and areas of life. If you were living your dream life, how would it be different? What do you see yourself doing? How many lives would you touch? What would you change? Who would you help if you were truly living as a visionary?
Avoid Sabotaging Your Dream
When these different voices merge they can become muddled and result in confusion and poor decisions. For example, you might poison your dream by projecting doubt into it. Then with each step you take toward what you want, you also move toward your doubt. Doubt and fear, which most of us may have at some time or another (especially when embarking on a new or big dream) do not belong in your dream. These feelings are simply part of your reality. This is a subtle and essential point.
Here’s a simple technique for avoiding this sabotaging pattern. On a piece of paper draw a line across the middle. On the top half write out your dream with as much detail as possible. On the bottom write out your reality in relationship to your dream, where you are now. Reality usually includes good news and (so called) bad, as well as any fear or doubt you may have. Just state the facts and your feelings about them.
Now, which one are you more committed to; your dream or your reality? We tend to choose “reality” when we don’t have a clearly defined dream or when we saturate our dream with doubt. If your dream is loaded with your worst imagined nightmares, reality will always seem safer and saner. But doubt placed appropriately as part of your reality, allows two things to happen. First, no longer blown out of proportion, it’s an obstacle that basically requires a strategy to manage it. But more importantly, with doubt where it rightfully belongs, you are free to move forward.
It’s like a play. All the characters have wisdom and insight, but you can’t clearly understand them when they’re speaking at once. Take time to tune in, to listen, and on a regular basis, have the courage to give your dreamer its directorial debut or even the leading role.
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