|Personal Growth||The Self|
As I am sure you will have observed if you have read the other sections, all dreams can be used for personal growth, as they confront you with aspects of yourself that you might not have otherwise noticed. In this section, I just want to point out a few aspects not covered in those sections, and one more archetype.
First of all, it is common for the same themes to appear again and again in dreams. This does not mean that no progress is being made: typically, as the years go by, the theme will evolve along with the dreamer. Thus, while it may keep on re-appearing, it will nevertheless be changing with time. The changes are worth noticing, since they tell you just what changes have happened in you.
Dreams are also to some extent age-dependant. For the very old, or those near death, dreams often have the quality of preparing for a journey, or of rebirth into a new world, or of a transformation, or of meeting their beloved, or of life continuing in another form. The person is coming to terms with their fate – although it has to be said that the dreams could have other meanings depending on the situation. Even if the person is apparently near death, for example through illness, the dreams and indeed the illness itself could be pointers to a problem that needs dealing with rather than a preparation for death as such. As we all know, even incurable illnesses suddenly fade away sometimes. And sometimes, it could be because the person has undergone some inner realisation.
Younger people are more likely to dream of practical things, of how to manage their lives in the outer world: ambition, love life, dealing with people, and so on. Mid-life people tend to dream more about finding themselves: what is the meaning of my life? “Older” in this context is a very variable term, and can differ drastically from one individual to another; many young people need to find themselves too!
Finding one’s self is the real business of personal growth, I suppose. Why am I here? What is the point of my life? What can I contribute that a million others can’t? And so on. In a world so busy and populated, the individual is easily lost, and easily discouraged. How can a person make a unique contribution when there are so many others, more talented and eager to prove it? Many people find this question quite depressing: they either have to conquer the world, or at least achieve some recognition somewhere, or be an anonymous nobody. It is as if an individual life means nothing when there are so many others who can do the same things. And yet, the important thing to remember, and dreams display this feature in abundance, is that each individual is in fact unique. Even identical twins, with the same genetic code and upbringing, do in fact develop differently from each other, and will have different dreams from each other – the themes may (or may not) be similar, but the details will certainly be unique. As unique as the individual. In other words, absolutely unique. Even if we were a planet of identical clones, our lives would be unique because every individual’s experiences differ a little from anyone else’s. Since each individual, each life, is unique, each person does in fact make a unique contribution to the world simply by being, and above all, by being himself or herself. As Henry Van Dyke said: “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”
Becoming one’s self Jung referred to as Individuation. By following the prompts given by our dreams, we build not only a unique life, but a more satisfying one as well. By building our lives in a way that is based firmly on who we are as individuals, we automatically fulfil our unique destiny. As Voltaire put it, “Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her. But once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.” Contents
The Self is the archetype of your totality: your true self, in other words. It often appears in a godly form, or as an abstract pattern of four, such as a square, or a circle with a cross in it, or four people, (or three others plus you) representing your complete self – the four parts making up the whole, or as a wise old man (for men) or a wise old woman (for women).
Dreams involving the Self also often have a theme involving balance; that is, achieving the right balance in life. If your life is too one-sided, the dreams will bring up the opposite, as if to say, “get real.” The idea is not to remove one approach and replace it with another, but to find a happy medium: a balanced approach to life, taking into account its many facets. Such dreams call you back towards the centre; your centre: the real you. Life’s gold is found in the dirt: the opposites can not be separated and lived separately or individually; they are all a part of you and your task is to find your way to reconcile them all, and live them all, in a reasonable way and in faithfulness to your true self. We can be overwhelmed by our miserable, complicated lives, or we can focus on what is really real. Contents