Monday, August 22, 2011

DREAM: PERSONA AND SHADOW.. feb 15,2010(edited Aug 24, 2010)

1. I was a basketball coach to some young boys and a childhood buddy of mine was also to another group. I considered him a somewhat better coach than myself. I did not have a lot of confidence. We were sort of colleagues. I had done the 'ground work' of securing some areas for both of us to have our practices. I told him about the details. One court was obviously a little better than the other and he was able to see that, but we would have neither one if I had not taken the initiative. I inwardly felt it was right for me to have the better one but I offered him a choice. Without any discussion or thanks he took the best court. Afterward, I felt a heart burning resentment.
2. I had gone on a vacation trip with the same friend and some others. He had been in charge of planning the trip. We were at our first destination, maybe a motel at a beach. Then we began to make plans to take another excursion in which we were to pull a boat behind a car our friend and leader had arranged. I looked at the car in astonishment. It was deplorable. It was an old 50 sedan, dark brown, rusted. It had what looked like hardened syrup dripped over it outside and in. It was not safe. The trailer was the same. totally rusted out, leaning over. I expressed my concern to my old  friend who acted like all was fine, no problem. He had secured this piece of junk and stood behind it. We actually got in. I was sitting in the front middle seat just overwhelmed that we were going to head out in this piece of crap. I was angry at  my friend again for this. Then I found out that he was expecting us to be on this excursion for so long  I was not going to get back in time for work. He had not considered my needs at all. Another reason for me to be angry at him. Then it came out that a girl friend of mine had called and asked for me and he had decided to withhold that information. I knew I would have been very delighted to speak and maybe see her. So my anger was now raging for  his total ignoring of my needs and interests and yet seeming to be such a sweet kind person at the same time. He took no responsibility for any of the reasons I was so angry.

REFLECTION: What an unpleasant dream this is.  My childhood friend is pictured in  these dreams as what Jung calls ones 'persona.' The persona is the mask we all learn to wear to present ourselves favorably to others in our workaday world. So the dream is raising questions and issues about my persona , what it is and does and its downside. The fact that in both dreams I become extremely angry indicates that this dream is also about my 'shadow'. The shadow is Jung's image of the negative , destructive side of one's personality. Ones shadow not only can be destructive toward others , it can also be destructive toward oneself. But, the shadow also is a necessary and real part of every human person. Acknowledging one's shadow Jung describes as one of the initial big steps in adult psychological/spiritual growth.

In 1980 when I interviewed for CPE I was asked by the interviewer, 'Jim, what do you do with your anger?' I was terribly uncomfortable and truly did not know where in myself to go to find an answer. I had very well repressed(kept it unconscious) my anger all my life, so I really was in denial that Jim Hibbett had any serious anger. I blushingly answered, " Well, I pray about it." I really do not think I could have been praying seriously about my anger for I was not aware I had any. Without anyone lecturing me, I found out in the environment of CPE that I was loaded with anger, some of which was my anger at losing my mother when I was ten years old. There were other people and issues  I had very real , but unacknowledged and unknown  to myself, anger toward. As I 'touched' my anger in therapeutic work I found it to be very frightening for I was not accustomed to 'knowing' it as a part of myself.  I did a lot of work over the next years owning and attending to the meaning of anger in my life. Among other things I learned that anger was natural and served a very positive function in one's life. But it had to be acknowledged and channeled in ways that gave a good chance of bringing positive change in life, not remaining destructive which unconscious anger always is. So why am I being called up again to consider my anger?

My old friend is a good image for my persona because everyone saw him as extremely 'nice' as I'm sure they usually did me also. This was my persona my  whole growing up into my  adult years. I smiled nearly all the time. I was motivated to be pleasing and to please people with whom I interacted. This was an effective persona and usually achieved its purpose of getting me positive feedback from others, generating a reasonable amount of popularity and me being seen as someone who was never a threat to anyone. This was all of course then totally  unconscious to me. I fully believed that the ' smiling persona' was who and all I really was. That is why I could not tolerate the idea that I  was at times angry. I had not yet differentiated the persona as being only a part of the full personality. That work was yet to come.

The first dream shows the downside of appearing to be so nice. My niceness backfired. My persona communicated to someone that it was fine for 'Mr. nice guy Hibbett' to have either of the ball courts. The truth was that I felt it right and fair  for me and my team to have the better court for I had done the work to secure it. Then when the other person took me at my persona's word I was inwardly furious. I had not been willing to run the risk of dropping the 'always nice' to state the truth that I was expecting to get the better court. There is always a risk of dropping one's mask and giving forth something that is more true, and maybe not so welcome. In the dream I really had not taken care of my own needs and interests. I had expected someone else to. So I was now living with a high level of anger. I hope I fully  know now the cost of handling anger in that unconscious denying way. I should have  honestly talked to my friend and let him know, without blaming him, what I had done to myself by not being honest with him. Anyone can argue whether or not my desire to have the better court is a character flaw of selfishness or not but the main point of the dream is that by not willing to be honest and to let my 'always nice and giving' mask down caused me to suffer a lot of self inflicted anger. If I am indeed being harmfully  selfish that would be considered part of my 'shadow' and I needed to own that. As it was I was not only feeling grabby but I was unwilling to be honest about it. That is often what is going on with one's shadow. We do not own it so it comes out in our relationships in all kinds of destructive ways.

The second dream presents a person who is being counted on to plan an activity with the best interest of those he is serving in mind. The same friend figure was 'in charge' thus given a leadership role for this trip. But it seems he simply was not responsible to the people, including me, in how he went about his leadership. He arranged a terrible and unsafe vehicle, he did not plan the trip so I could be back for my work and he withheld important information from me , just because he could . These things made me furious. I would say I had every reason to be genuinely angry at him. To not allow oneself to feel anger when s/he is mistreated is a dishonest and unhealthy way to live. I definitely learned as I went through CPE that I had habitually denied myself knowing my very appropriate anger. So when anger is denied it comes out in inappropriate ways. Simply put it can become  like the image of ' a person who is mad at his boss and comes home and kicks the dog.... or yells at his wife and children... or becomes depressed, moody or withdrawn.' I think the dream is a reminder to me to not allow myself to be like my  friend is pictured in this dream.(The dream is saying nothing in all of this  about my actual friend. It simply uses his image to represent my persona.) It asks me to reflect back to all the ways I have had authority or leadership roles with others and to see how I have sometimes not been fully responsible and genuinely attended to the needs of those whom I have been called to serve. It is saying, "do not forget how angry it rightfully makes you when you are not 'led' properly, responsibly and respectfully." I have learned this in my life and the high value I now place on it. The dream is underlining this kind of dynamic and in a sense warning me to not only be aware of when it is happening to me and , if possible graciously, defend myself against it from others, but also to make  sure I do not treat others in such a way when I am in the 'leadership/serving' role.

Overall the dream reminds me of my capacity to have very strong anger and to use it  the ways I have been taught. The goal is  to channel  it constructively and most of all to not deny it, for the voice of  ones anger is telling  them something very important, not unlike physical pain speaks to us to get our attention. Anger is not an enemy but an important friend and ally to be taken seriously, thus raising it to a higher level of consciousness. Jim

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