The Dream: Trapped in my stifling negative inner dialog

Trapped in my stifling negative inner dialog unable to breathe, move, or escape I force myself to wake.

I do myself great harm with this unrelenting waking narrative of self-criticism and thus cut myself off from the sacredness of my soul.

The wisdom of “Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” is fundamentally a directive to do no harm to the sacredness of life, including oneself. I spend far too much time chewing on my shortcomings and insufficiencies and too little with my strengths and resourcefulness. “I am sufficient”, though I don’t yet fully agree with that statement, I do know that at my core I am whole. However, my expectations for how to realize the fact of my wholeness gets in the way of my acting sufficient.

So I feel trapped, trapped in my own judgments and self-criticisms, feeling as in the dream paralyzed, breathless, and unable to move or escape the negative narrative.

The dream is also saying to me “How do I transmute these leaden thoughts into the golden core of my real self”? In the dream I see what I have sunk into and I pull myself out and awaken to my real self, my real life. “Be mindful” says the dream.

When the mask is removed

The nightmare:

I’m sitting on the floor in some strange place I’ve never seen before. It’s like a tunnel or underground bunker/cellar. A man comes out of nowhere and reaches behind my neck and rubs something on it. Why am I being targeted, what are they going to do to me? I know that I will soon be unconscious, so I slash his throat and start to run off to find some place to hide.


Do I not feel safe from my own inner dark side, my own unconscious mind? Do I need to protect myself? Am I letting myself become too vulnerable? Do I need to pay better attention to the darker parts of me? Do I need to focus more on the brighter aspects of myself and avoid burying myself too deeply into my darker aspects? Am I killing myself, my psycho-emotional self i.e., my self-esteem? Do I need to be more positive about myself and reign in the self-critic? What am I running from?

The underground is often symbolic of our unconscious mind trying to communicate with our conscious ego self through our dreams. Death in dreams is often referring to the end of something or the ending of a way of being. Being threatened often comes from feeling vulnerable or helpless.

Running away and trying to hide is an avoidance response to some action, danger, or event. Being myself, what some would call the authentic self, often results in me worrying about being rejected. But keeping the crafted persona or the mask on can be stultifying and limiting. 

The slashing of the throat could be about regretting a communication and wanting to cut off communication or the fear that some communication has threatened me or should be ended in the future. The throat or neck is the connector between the intellect and the body or heart. Slashing it severs the communication between heart and head, the fearful thoughts and the loving heart. Out of the fear of being rejected this what the head wants to do.

Recently I shared with a group of men parts of myself that I know are not necessarily acceptable or embraced by most people and after having hit “send” I almost immediately regreted having made myself so vulnerable and began to beat myself up for having shared so deeply. I tried to center myself but found that this wasn’t working. I read and reread the message I sent out trying to convince myself that this wasn’t a giant mistake. It wasn’t working either. The dream seems to be a response.

This kind of dream often shows up when I make myself vulnerable or spend too much energy criticizing myself and worrying if I’ve presented myself with too much information. When the mask comes off is a very scary place to be, freeing, but scary.

*some of these image interpretations come from Morpheus Speaks: The Encyclopedia of Dream Interpreting

I want to go home


Last night I had one of what I call a “lonely dream.” No images or story are remembered just the feeling of loneliness. Frequently I don’t bother to write this dream down for what is there to say about it? But I also get the same feeling while wide awake. It’s a haunting feeling and I have got to ask what is this about?

Recently I learned  that the South Africans have a saying when greeting each other. When one says “Sawubona” they are saying “We see you. We see you as you really are” with the response being, “Sikhona” meaning “I am here to be seen”. For me this greeting speaks to what I long for, to be truly seen and accepted for who I am and to see you and accept you for who you truly are. No trying to look good or at least not look bad. No trying to be other than who you really are. This kind of authentic interaction is in my experience rare and can be an extremely intimate way of greeting one another. When this greeting is truly and sincerely given, it requires the gift of immense vulnerability. 

Most people I’ve met cannot give me that gift nor have I been able to always give it from myself. But I want to, I long to, I ache to give it. Once in a while the captive energy of the need to connect at a deep level becomes too much and I share a vulnerability and then after being ignored or shied from I become embarrassed and promise myself to never again open myself up to people in this fashion. But then the need to be seen grows too strong in me and I do it again.

Sometimes in the dark of night or in the darkness of despair at any time of day I find myself crying out, “I want to go home!” It is often said as though coming from the deep down child in me. It usually follows the feeling of loneliness that has sometimes shown up in my darker dreams or while just driving down the road to do some shopping.

I’ve often uttered these words almost as a prayer but what does it mean?

Home for me is a safe place, a place where who I am is known, a place where I am wanted, where I am seen, cared for and about, and loved. It’s a place where everything is okay, where nothing can hurt me, where I am fully accepted for who I am and who I am being, though such a place has never existed for me in its entirety. It lives within me more as a fantasy, a wish, a place half remembered from a place before my time, a place I was born from, and not into. I call out to this place when I am feeling lost and alone. It’s a place that my soul seems to know, and it is from there that the cry comes from.

When said into the light of day the darkness seems to lighten somewhat.

Imagine that!

Reading the Science section of the New York Times* this morning while sipping coffee I chanced upon an article detailing an astronomical observation of a supernova, a dying star that exploded and whose light and existence we are still witnessing one billion years later. Imagine that! We can look back through time and see something a billion years in the past right now in the present moment as though the star, its planets, and living things, if any, were still here with us. Imagine that!

Now I know that what we are seeing is the gross radiation of the star that in its own space and time no longer exists and the resolution is nowhere near what it would need to be to discern its planets and their life. However, this got me to thinking what if the resolution were powerful enough to see not only the star and its planets but the people on one of those planets and to be able to follow their emanations across their life cycle? We would be witnessing individuals who are living and being across a billion years of history as though they were still here. Beings a billion years old, Imagine that! Imagine someone from a galaxy millions and billions of years away with the technology to watch you live your life.

At some level we are all just data expressed as a living entity. But this data never ends when we end. The data from each of our lives outlives us by unimaginable time spans. A scientist would tell you that this data might not be cohesive enough to stretch that far across time and would become hopelessly corrupted to be almost unrecognizable. Even though the first law of thermodynamics suggests that energy cannot be created or destroyed and that according to the second law it will over time increase in its disorder, at the point of observation we may be witnessing what was so a billion years ago. A single life may be witnessed yet again a billion times over. Imagine that! 

From the perspective of some imagined observer our actions whether they be good, evil, or stupid will live forever. Our hate, self-centeredness, self-righteousness, bigotry, ignorance, grief, joy, compassion, passion, and love will be projected outward into the universe for all time to see.

From the perspective of a creator of the universe, if there be one, our existence can live on indefinitely. I think we’d better shape up if we’re going to be around that long.


*page D2, April 18, 2023

An Anxiety Dream

Young student in front of blackboard istock photo

The Dream: In a classroom having missed a test I was told to solve the problem written on the board. Try as I would, I could not solve the problem. In fact, I didn’t even understand the problem or how to break it down into its simplest form. It was as though I had no understanding of the math involved, too stupid to even get started. Finally, embarrassed, and greatly saddened, I admitted before everyone and the teacher that I didn’t know how. I knew that by admitting this I had failed and my career as a student would end. I awoke depressed anxious, and agitated, a failure and loser. The teacher consoled me with “that’s alright”.

Comments on the dream: Oh my! I thought, “I hope this dream was not confirming my constant worry that I am stupid and everyone around me knows it”.

I then remembered an earlier blog article* that I wrote on the purpose of life. When I write on such things, I always worry that these explorations of life are sophomoric and reveal my ignorant and immature nature (my apologies to college Sophomores a period of my life that I enjoyed immensely and seem in many ways to have never grown out of).

In the article I packed it all under the rubric of “Mystery” that basically I love a mystery because I don’t have to have the answer or be able to parse the meaning. I can just enjoy my ignorance and play the Fool even if others think me stupid. By aligning myself with the great mystery that is life I can’t really be wrong. As the dream says I am not a student of answers but of questions and mystery. And the dream also reveals that admitting my lack before everyone is the first step in the acceptance of self. The teacher in me says that that’s just fine. 


*2-27-23 The Book of Dreams blog

Soul Crying: Dreams have your six*

One can hardly miss the craziness of our “leaders” and the number of deaths and shootings, police beatings and shootings, extreme weather damage, and unprovoked wars inundating us from the media. I’ve tried to moderate the amount of craziness by what I read or watch on TV but it’s all so pervasive that it’s almost impossible to screen out.

The craziness, mayhem, and fear also show up in my dreams or when I’m just watching a show.

Sometimes it just gets to be too much, and I find myself having a grieving response, a shoulder shaking response with no tears and no sound coming forth through my wide-open mouth, but real grief, nonetheless. Sometimes I’m bent over in grief unable to stand upright before it. Sometimes it all feels so helpless and hopeless.

But sometimes a witnessed act of love and kindness will trigger the grief response and I’m made to realize how much I long for kindness and love in a world that seems to have so little of it to go around.

However, when any of these grief responses want release from what I normally try to control, my dreams often suggest that I just let go and let the grief flow. I know that my dreams always have my back, my six as they say, my well-being. My dreams often recommend that I let my grief just fall out of me back into the ocean of tears that can be the world sometimes. For some it’s letting those cries for help fall into the open arms of God.

When awake I know that when this soul urging comes that it’s not what I’m reading or watching that is causing the need but that psychically I’m being touched by the event and that this moves me strongly. By letting go of the control and letting the feelings flow and knowing that it’s safe to do so, and that I’ll come back when it’s done, I find it releasing and cathartic, sort of like the old “primal therapy” technique of screaming and punching the pillow type of coping and healing. For some, doing this with a trusted friend or therapist can be very useful.

And that is what happens when I let go, when I let my soul speak for me, it heals or begins the healing of the psychic damage that life through ego-self humanity is causing. It loosens all that scar tissue that has built up over the years.

I’ve always known it; dreams can be about healing and well-being but listening to them now is even more important in order to deal more effectively with the self-serving human chaos spreading across the world.

Opening up to a good cry if that is what the soul is urging and then do your part to heal others through your enhanced listening and help to make room for love to come through is often the meta message of my dreams and perhaps to the dreams of millions more if they were to look more closely.


*This post can also be seen on

Injury in a dream: A self-talk nightmare that needs healing

The dream:

The dreamer is talking to a woman who is hiding her left foot under a blanket. The dreamer asks to see her foot and she shows it briefly. Her foot is infected, with open bleeding wounds of red and purple with the skin sluffing off. It looks gross and sore and as though it’s disintegrating. It sickens a little to look at it and she covers it back up. She doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it. There’s a thought that her foot needs to be cleansed or disinfected.

An Interpretation:

Though this dream could represent the soreness the dreamer had been feeling lately in both feet It’s more likely that it has deeper meaning. In general, feet in dreams have something to do with one’s stability, one’s foundation, the feeling of groundedness and practicality. The injury may be related to a feeling of a loss of groundedness or stability emotionally or with sense of self.

Perhaps the dreamer needs to heal old emotional wounds or traumas or at least look at them again i.e., to look at them no matter how gross in order to move on. The scarring on the foot could be symbolic of having been scarred. The need to disinfect may reflect the need to rid oneself of the judgments and negative self-talk that is affecting their self-image.

The image of something disintegrating seems to reinforce the idea that some thoughts are destroying the dreamer’s sense of well-being, sense of belonging, and/or sense of emotional balance. The foot being in ruins might be speaking to the need to end something, e.g., some way of being or to regain balance.

There’s also the fact that the person in the dream is female which might suggest that some feminine aspect has been injured, e.g., compassion for self?

The “left” foot in this dream may be referring what is not normal or usual in that something unusual needs to be tried to regain one’s balance.

Bleeding in dreams often refers to a loss of vitality and energy for life or for some task or for one’s self-image.

The sluffing skin may be suggesting the loss of cover that reveals the damage inside.

I read somewhere that in the monastic tradition people are encouraged to look deeper into themselves to see what it is that is getting in there way but that they are also trained to look for and empower the good. Accepting the good in all the morass of what one may have judged as no good may seem fake or disingenuous. Plus, if they start giving themself atta boys that leaves them open to critiques about the foundations of those atta boys which could leave them vulnerable and only prove that the negatives are right (oh what a tangled web our egos weave).

Could the dreamer’s negative self-talk have escalated to the point where they haven’t been able to modify let alone stop it? This dream seems to be an artifact of this. But it may have an answer in that it encourages them to confront the ugliness and to get help to heal instead of just covering it up and keeping it to themself.

A drowning dream brings relief

“By virtue of our ancient roots, we are all instinctively disposed to respond immediately to threatening and fearful stimuli. We do this in both our waking lives and in our dreams, often through the intervention of nightmares. In a very real way, nightmares tell us that all is not well in our outer or inner worlds.” (Cole, RJ, Pg. 543) *

Along with recurring dreams that seem to show up when there is something going on that may be critical to our well-being, nightmares seem to be an evolutionary and instinctive adaptation to peripheral threats and should not be ignored.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a dream that incorporates both recurrency and nightmarish qualities.

In this dream which showed up across three nights I puncture a large cube-like container that starts gushing water.  I try to stop it and get sucked in feet first but get stuck moving forward as I try to pull myself out. I struggle mightily but eventually give up and let it suck me into the cube in hopes of overcoming it and then swim my way out. As I find myself underwater with little chance of escape, I begin to panic and frantically thrash toward the entry hole letting the water that’s escaping through the hole suck me back out into the air.


Water overwhelming and threatening to drown. As a metaphor for strong or overwhelming emotions that were threatening my well-being this cry for help dream definitely caught my attention. So, the question is, what’s going on right now that is overwhelming me emotionally? What I noticed upon reflection and not going into details was that I had for several days been experiencing a general background malaise, anxiety, and despondency that had been spoiling my ability to enjoy the good things that had been going on and making me feel ill and listless, sort of ‘Bah, humbug’ if you will. I had also fallen into the cynical “everything is meaningless” trap that was making every color turn gray. Given the current circumstances in the world and in the country where I live this attitude had become my defense against the fear, violence, and hate i.e., it can’t hurt me if I render everything as meaningless. 

But it robs me of the joy in life, the love, and compassion because if I render it all meaningless then they too are taken away. As in the dream I’ve let the malaise take me over in hopes that by stopping my resistance to it that it will let me go. Dealing with it is not, however a passive act, it requires an active participation.

This post as well as a number of other activities (such as watching corny Hallmark and Netflix movies) is my way of swimming up toward the hole and escaping the overwhelm.

*Morpheus Speaks: The Encyclopedia of Dream Interpreting

Loss of independence and personal power

The Dream: A disturbing nightmare where broken teeth and a crowned molar are falling from their place in the upper jaw. I’m trying to put them back where they belong, but without much success. People are killing other people, stabbing and mayhem. 


Clearly, I’m experiencing conflict and violence in the waking dream and it’s registering in the dreams of my sleep.

Teeth in dreams often refer to power and independence with the loss of same suggesting equivalent losses in one’s waking life. Broken teeth can reveal problems with self-image or lack of self-confidence. Trying to put the fallen teeth back can be about the need or the attempt to regain power or independence. As one ages these dreams can occur more often reflecting the weakening and losses of power and independence one experiences as they get older.

The killing in this dream could symbolize the feeling of being undermined in status, self-esteem, or self-confidence. Killing can also reflect restriction of independence or of some aspect of the self. Death can be a metaphor for the need to kill off something such as a way of being or negative aspect or trait that may be affecting self-worth.

*Some of the interpretive elements (incl. picture) came from the book Morpheus Speaks: The Encyclopedia of Dream Interpreting

A Dream Metaphor for Death

The Dream: I’m in a room crushed against many people waiting for my number to be called. Some people with numbers behind me are being called. “That’s not fair!” I complain in my mind.

The Interpretation: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all those family and friends who have died, some were younger than me.

I really hate this whole death thing and usually avoid thinking about it but once in a while a dream will come along and insist that I pay it some attention. It’s as though my soul wants to say something and uses the medium of the dream to express itself. It’s funny what happens when I let go of my resistance to the awful thought of personal death and allow myself to sink down into it and to feel its pull.

the fear,

the grief,

the anger,

the loss,

the sadness,

the unknown,

the not knowing,

the mystery,

the wonder,

the curiosity,

the what’s next?

And down here it doesn’t seem so awful.