I had a vivid dream recently. In it I was visiting a friend who looked vibrant and told me he had started working with a new kind of therapy offered by a very special therapist. My friend turned to me and asked, “Would you like to make every little change you ever thought of?”
Immediately my heart sank and I felt overwhelmed by the thought of all the time and work involved. How could I possibly tackle every thing I needed to change? It was too much to even contemplate.
When I awoke, I wrote down the dream and taking its message at face value, drew a mind map of all the things in my inner and outer life that I knew needed attention. A mind map (see the example above) is a quick and easy way to get all your thoughts and associations down onto paper so you can see them all at the same time.
Once you have the basic topics diagrammed, you can add questions, details and links to describe how everything is connected to everything else. In that way, the map is probably the closest reflection of how the brain and Self organizes our experience.
Examining and elaborating my own map helped me get a sense of why I felt so overwhelmed in the dream; it highlighted those areas which caused most stress and needed most attention. I realized that those difficult areas of my life shared similar characteristics:
- I felt stuck or blocked in moving forward in that particular area
- The tasks brought up a feeling of incompetence and self-doubt
- When I even thought about the tasks, I felt stressed and tired
- I tended to procrastinate and resist the particular tasks needed to make progress in that area.
In order to grow, we have to become aware of what needs changing in our selves and in our situation. Only then can we engage with those aspects of our being that require attention and action. Our inner self is always prompting us to become a better person. Listening to our dreams, journaling and using tools such as a mind map can help us on our journey to change and inner growth.