23 Sept 2018
When history stops repeating itself
Finding out you don’t need to believe something about yourself that you’ve always thought was true - life scripts.
For as long as I can remember I’ve had one particular recurring dream: I’m backstage at a theatre, about to go on stage and perform my part in a play. The trouble is, I haven’t learned all the lines. So the entire dream revolves around me scrabbling around trying to find the script. There are lots of people milling about but no one has a copy. I look under piles of bags, costumes and props, trying to find the script, becoming more and more anxious. If I can only find the script, I’ll be saved. I won’t have to suffer the humiliation of going out on stage not knowing what to do or say. If I don’t find the script I’ll look a fool. I’ll let everyone else down and they’ll hate me for spoiling the play. I then wake up when the dream is too much to bear, my heart racing and a strange feeling of shame.
This kind of anxiety dream, or variations of it, such as entering an exam unprepared, is quite common. It’s normal for our sub-conscious to process our anxieties through our dreams. Having been involved in theatre productions when I was younger, I know how utterly devastated I would feel being exposed in this way. It’s almost as if my sub-conscious knew exactly which scenario would bring me the most anxiety.
My dream focused on my anxieties about not being good enough, not living up to expectations, being a failure – in short, I was telling myself that if I wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t acceptable - a life script.
Growing up we receive messages about ourselves and the world around us. The messages can be about anything - how we look, how we behave, other people, what’s right, what’s wrong, money and so on. We interpret and unconsciously internalise those messages as truths, whether they’re true or not. They become life scripts that stay with us into adulthood and can affect what we think about who we are and what we’re capable of.
Recently, I tried to remember the last time I had my recurring dream and it dawned on me that I hadn’t dreamt it for quite some time. And I began to wonder what that meant. Psychologist Alfred Adler believed that dreams are created to help us understand and make sense of the difficulties in our lives. Our sub-conscious (or our true inner self?) doesn’t have to justify itself or care about how disturbing the dreams are for us. These unfiltered, direct messages can just appear again and again in dreams until we get the message!
I realised that the script in my dream not only represented my anxieties but was a very clear symbol of the life script I was clinging onto. When I challenged my need for perfection and to please others, I found it served no purpose and I no longer needed it. What was in the past didn’t have to control my present or future. It was quite a moment when I realised I had freed myself from that particular dream.
Do you have recurring dreams? Do they represent a familiar way of thinking or feeling about yourself or a situation in your life? Do you tend to judge and label yourself? Coaching can help you to acknowledge, examine and challenge life scripts that may be holding you back from moving forward in your life. Understanding these scripts will give you the best possible chance of changing them.
"Meanings are not determined by situations, but we determine ourselves by the meanings we give to situations."