Therapy of dreaming

Therapy of dreaming… sounds odd perhaps?

Well, Freud called dreaming ‘the royal road to the subconscious’ 

We forget dreams when we wake up, and there’s a reason for this, and that is to prevent us confusing them with reality.

I remember reading from a biography of Keith Richards about the fact that he used to keep by his bed a tape recorder to record guitar riffs that came to him in his dreams. The story is that the riff to satisfaction was recorded in one of these night sessions, and he had completely forgotten that he had written it until he listened back to it on the tape recorder.

It’s this idea of Christopher Bollas’s ‘unthought known’ a phrase he coined from Freud who reported a patient saying something ‘ to the effect that he had always known something but he had never thought of it.

How many unthought knowns do you recognise in your own thinking? Those things on the edge of awareness or consciousness.

The science is therefore that dreams are the brain’s way of creating solutions to problems. That when we sleep, we process, much the same as we do in hypnosis.

The science supports this…

In dreams, if the smell of rotten eggs is sprayed into the nose of smokers directly after the smell of cigarettes, they will feel less of an urge to smoke.

PTSD sufferers have noticed a lessening of symptoms in the waking state after positive smells were introduced after trauma triggers during sleep.

So this is further evidence that memories are malleable, that they are changed as they are used, that they can be overridden.

And most importantly that they are interwoven with dreams and dream content.

A little science can serve to underpin the art of working with for example dream interpretation or dreaming in trance or the idea of the subconscious as a benevolent problem solver.

If we accept the principle of the subconscious or unconscious mind, then the therapy of dreaming must surely be worth a little more exploration?


Anxiety perfectionists

Welcome to the second part of my anxiety perfectionists tools designed to help you feel better faster, if you missed the first installment, you can access it here.

OK, let’s carry on..

Really important this next one – You create the pressure in any given situation, it comes not from external pressures, but how you frame and respond to those pressures. You make pressure and if you make it, you can unmake it. Remember, If there is no perfect way to do something, then there is no pressure to do it any other way than your way, and you’re the world’s leading expert in doing things your way already.


Other peoples’ opinions do not have to determine how you feel, your opinion is most importantyou have the right not to have to justify what you do. Your opinion of how efforts are, is more important than anyone else’s.


You have the right to say, “no”, “I don’t care”, “I don’t want to” or ‘I don’t understand’. That’s empowering just in itself and deserves its own post but for the meantime, turn it over in your mind, maybe try it, maybe little things at first just to see how it feels…


Avoid words like ‘must’ ‘should’ and ‘ought’. These are judgmental words that paint you into a corner. They are not part of your anxiety perfectionists toolkit. More importantly, they set up pressure and expectation upon you to behave a certain way when you might not feel that way. We’re working toward authenticity, the conscious and subconscious being in harmony. Try ‘could’ instead and be more gentle with yourself.


Finally, just get on and do it. Putting things off and going over them endlessly feeds perfectionism. It’s the ‘Analysis = Paralysis’ equation. Remember the successful people mentioned above? Many of them failed many many times before they were finally successful in a goal.


Instead of aiming for perfection, try aiming for excellence, and remember that as long as you’ve done your best, then no-one can ask any more of you than that.

Learn about anxiety

No learn about anxiety resources would be complete without looking at emotional resilience. The word comes from ‘resili’ – the Latin word for ‘spring back’ – it’s the process of adapting in the face of adversity.

Think of anxiety a bit like a see-saw with ‘perceived’ ability to cope on one end and demands on the other. When demands are lower that ability to cope, we are OK, when the demands are bigger than our perceived ability to cope, we have a problem, we can learn to be less anxious.

Ego strengthening and emotional resilience are about improving ability to cope. We all use scales of 1 to 10, if our ability is say a grade 4 and a grade 6 problem comes up, we can struggle, if the ability is a 9, then the grade 6 problem is easily handled.

This resilience can be cultivated. The more we learn about anxiety, the more tools we have to cope.

The first step is Realism, being realistic about a situation, for example one of the difficulties with depression is that people often attach inappropriate meaning to events. If a depressed person telephones a friend and they don’t ring back, they might think ’my friend doesn’t like me’ when the actual reason may be that they didn’t even get the message.

Next we look at establishing a goal that we can work towards, a favourable outcome. Now here hypnosis can really help with what we call ‘future pacing’. We all know that hypnosis can help us look back at past problems by regressing. The other side of that coin is looking forward which is equally (if not more) powerful.

Self-discipline is important, abandoning those ‘crutch activities’ that feel safe and familiar. It might be drink or drugs or avoidance. Ego strengthening techniques can really help with this process.

Cultivating wider interests helps because it gives us different versions of ourselves. Think of all the energy an anxious person uses just being anxious, once they are less anxious they have a surplus or energy and time to spend, space to ‘grow into’.

Re-framing is seeing something through a different frame and really important if you want to learn about anxiety. Say you suffer an ankle injury; you may well be focusing on how it stops you doing what you want to do. If you’re a soldier on the front line of a war zone, a simple ankle injury might mean rest and relaxation away from stress and danger.

Here’s a great re-frame that goes directly to the next in our list – Identity. It’s easy to concentrate on all our difficulties and things that have gone wrong. Look though at the old saying ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. That’s re-framing from victim to survivor, think of all the strengths you’ve built up in those hard times!

Flexibility is also key, changing change, making change into opportunity rather than threat.  Flexibility is vital for surviving life’s storms, if you bend with the storm winds, you don’t break.

Hypnosis, mindfulness and meditation can all help to moderate outbursts and reinforce neural pathways. Think of your mind like a cornfield for this one. The old outdated negative patterns of thought are like well-trodden paths in the corn, easy to tread again and again. By treading down new paths of positive neural pathways in the corn, like the old ones, they get flatter and flatter, and easier to tread.

A strong social network is good for emotional resilience; reach out in times of difficulty. Today, we live more and more isolated lives, often secure in the belief that Facebook friends mean we’re well supported. Look for support in times of difficulty; seek out therapy if you need to.

For control, look to Victor Frankl, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Moving your locus of control internally rather than externally can make a big difference.

Finally, test the changes, keep a journal and monitor your progress, learn about anxiety with free resources posted on this blog,  after all this isn’t work, it’s your life’s work!