A client told me that she did not have any dreams (fantasised aspirations) while she was a child. This concerned her and she asked whether this was normal. As the conversation unfolded she mentioned that she did want to have a happy family after getting married. Her eyes lit up as she mentioned this, but then she questioned was this really a dream? Wasn’t a dream supposed to be more glamorous, like wanting to climb Mount Everest or to be a world renowned surgeon?
She added that she was not certain what her dream was at this stage of her life. And this made it difficult for her to ‘live her dream’ as what is usually suggested by the self-help literature. How could she make a reality of something she was uncertain and confused about?
She asked me whether I was living my dream. I didn’t know how to respond to this question. Although I just looked at her in silence, my mind had been activated. I found myself thinking about my writing. Maybe my writing was a metaphor for dreaming for me. Dreaming has to do with creativity and a creative process such as writing, is embedded in the uncertainty domain. Every time I start to write an article, I never really know how it is going to turn out and what will unfold. I don’t know what detail will emerge, how ideas will join together and what the integrated whole will become (the eventual dream).
For children, dreams have a futuristic element to them. Most times, they also have an unrealistic aspect to them…children have creative fantasies that can go wild…everything is possible and attainable. The actual day-to-day processes that will eventually make the dream a reality are not even considered by the child (in fact, the child is not aware of these processes). In particular, time and effort are not part of attaining the dream scenario for a child. On some level this can create frustrations for young athletes who aspire to become champions. These youngsters passively watch television and see the ease of a how a top golfer strikes the ball and believe (dream) that they can do the same, only to discover that the harsh reality of actually executing such a stroke does not come that easily as was envisaged during the dream. In some cases, the dream turns into a nightmare and the youngster walks away in despair and gives up.
As the child grows older she/he becomes more aware of the processes that are involved in realising a dream. A shift from imagination and fantasy to activity and doing needs to occur. Embarking on the journey towards your dreams requires activity. And this activity may require routine and patience that the ‘dreamer‘ may resist or reject. This rejection is usually caused by the apparent ‘disconnect’ between the glamour of the dream (which only exists in the mind) and the ongoing effort that is required to reach the goal. Given this, I like to talk about the ‘dream journey’ with children. In the dream journey there is movement and effort, as well as direction. Another useful concept is to ‘dream small’. This can be a playful concept for a child. As a child describes his/her dream to you, ask the child to dream smaller, and then smaller. Then do the opposite and start dreaming bigger again. This constriction and expansion of focus helps the child to utilise her/his fantasy to see more detail in the process of realising a dream.
As one matures into adulthood, the main purpose of having a dream is to give direction and to guide energy as one moves into the uncertainty domain. Utilising the (a) ‘dream journey’ and (b) ‘dream small’ concepts will help you improve focus, as well as help you navigate your way around some of the obstacles that may be encountered. By doing this, you can move your dream from being a futuristic illusion, closer into the reality of the present moment; giving you the opportunity to ‘live your dream’.