Category Archives: Anxiety

Quick Sand & Mudslides – what to do when life feels out of control

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Have you ever actually stepped in quicksand? I don’t know anyone who has. Up until a few days ago, my only perception of the loosely packed sand which caves in with the added pressure of a person’s step is what I’ve seen in movies. In the movies a person takes a step on what seems like solid ground and then suddenly sinks…sometimes being pulled down and entirely covered in the mud & sand. In the movies, sometimes they die. It seems like a horrific experience. As a metaphor, to “Feel” like you are sinking in quicksand means you feel as though a relationship or situation which you perceived was stable is actually unstable and you are sinking into negative feelings of despair, feeling as though your life is out of control.

Oddly enough, the other day I was thinking about the feeling of being in quicksand and then as I was hiking on the hilly & wet trails with my German Shepherd in the BC rain forests I took a step on what seemed like solid ground and then BOOM I’m suddenly sinking! Before I even know what is happening, my right leg is nearly knee deep in sandy mud. Then as I’m trying to get out it gets worse and my left foot begins sinking too. I’m looking around for something to grab, fearing I’ll keep getting sucked deeper & deeper into this quicksand/mudslide. My dog is going nuts trying to figure out what is wrong with me and how she can help. Finally I lunge off to the side where the ground IS solid and I slip my feet out of the boots. Then once I’m on secure ground I reach over and pull the boots out. Phew! That was scary.

(Side Note: As my dog Chloe approached me to see if I was okay she walked into the quicksand/mud too and also sank in about a foot and then I had to pull her out too! What an adventure!)

So, now I’ve had the experience of literally sinking in quicksand. What I can tell you is that the most frightening part is that you can no longer trust your perceptions. What looks like solid ground is not solid so you don’t know where to reach or where to step to try to regain stability. The other scary unknown is the depth of the thing. How far will I sink down? How long will it take for me to pull myself out?

I suppose those are the kinds of feelings that can come up in a relationship. We move forward with a goal or idea, thinking we’ll be supported by our loved one, only to discover there’s no support. Metaphorically and literally, this is a very uncomfortable state to be in.

Okay – what’s the science behind quicksand? A quick online search shows me that quicksand often occurs in riverbanks and marshy areas (like the one I was walking through that day). Grains of sand, or small stones are usually packed down with very little space between them and this creates the solid ground. “Quicksand” forms when there are pockets of air around the sand and stones caused by water continually washing over the area and jostling the sand around. It’s like in a house of cards where the space around the cards takes up more area than the actual cards themselves. When there is added pressure at the top the whole thing comes crashing down – or sinking down as the case may be. As the air is compressed by the weight of your step, you sink in. I also found out that usually the depth is a foot or two. It sounds pretty rare for the Hollywood version of death-by-quicksand to take many lives.

What’s the lesson in all this? The biggest take away for me is that sometimes what we Imagine is FAR WORSE than what is actually happening. This is especially helpful for people like me who tend to fall into a big of anxiety now and again. When we imagine something really negative happening in the future it causes anxiety. Often times, the real life situation is not or will not be as bad as we imagine. It’s a good idea to recognize when anxious thoughts arise and then go back in time and remember when we successfully handled a situation and then just repeat in the present whatever skills were useful in the past. In this way, we can develop a lot of Confidence and with Confidence a lot of great things can happen!

When life FEELS out of control we can 1) Stop 2) Assess the Situation 3) Recognize how our mind is making us anxious by imagining a negative future 4) Remember past achievements and repeat what we are good at.

When we do this, not only do we build confidence from using our skills, talents and abilities but we also take back control of our minds, of our Selves. We cannot control every aspect of life, of course not, who would want that. But we can seek to understand situations which are causing us stress and we can manage it. We can overcome it. We can transform it.

The key to getting back on solid ground in life when you feel like everything is lost is to remember what you are good at and do it A LOT.

I don’t mean to make this sound simple, because it’s not. It takes time, daily effort, Patience and a bit of Enthusiasm but with effort and perseverance life can feel more stable again. Relationships can strengthen. Victories can be achieved.

Try this now: Write down one thing that comes to mind that you are worried about happening in the near future, maybe tomorrow or next week. See what you imagine when you think of this negative thing happening. Write that down too. Now think back to times when you have delt with similiar situations and they turned out positive. What did you DO that helped make the potentially negative situation get better? Can you do that thing today or this week? In what way can you repeatedly use your current skills, capacities, talents & strengths to make your current situation better. Hold that imagine in your mind until you see it so clearly. See if you can FEEL as though you already solved the problem. If you can see it, and feel it, it means you can achieve it. Generate the determination to do the thing and then get up from your chair. Put your pen & paper or computer down and take action – acting as though it is already solved.

This is a meditation approach that I have practiced for about a decade. I’ll write more about it in time. Even if you are new to meditation or just starting out, that’s okay. Take your time. Try a little bit each day and see if you can gradually get through the steps to find the Determination to work through whatever issue is facing you this week or next. You’ve got this! You CAN do it!

I’d love to read in the comments below any challenges or successes you’ve had with meditations like this. When we can imagine ourselves as being Confident, Determined and Patient we can truly handle ANYTHING that comes our way and life can never make us feel out of control ever again.

Photo by Nicole Avagliano on

DREAM: Gazelles Warn of Danger

When there is a message of warning in the dream, such as the one I describe below, it means that when you do the inner work to transform the negative emotion in the dream into something new then if something potentially negative happens in real life you will have the ability to create a really positive outcome. In this way, you can shift your reality into something truly amazing. It takes time and daily effort and the really incredible results will shock and amaze you!

The reason trauma can be healed when you understand the secret messages of your dreams is because dreams exist outside of time & space. When we understand a message in a dream we can learn something about ourselves, our circumstances, and the people around us and we can begin to see negative things coming before they happen. This helps us become more prepared and it empowers us to use our skills, capacities, talents & strengths to create extremely positive experiences for ourselves, our families and our communities.

Truth be told, if there were a reward for having the most foreboding dreams in a row, I think I would win. In the past two weeks in my dreams I am:

  • canoeing in a river swarming with hungry alligators
  • hiking on a trail with snakes and lions
  • confronting an enormous bear trying to get in my house
  • running to rescue my dog who’s been attacked on the face
  • watching a herd of gazelles run from an unknown predator

Readers familiar with the way I do dreamwork (which was created & developed by author Richard Hastings), will remember that the many animals showing up in these dreams carries a lot of meaning. Here are four things to keep in mind when dreaming about animals.

  1. Like humans, animals have two sides – a positive expression of their qualities & also a negative expression. Think of how a dog can by loyal and friendly but also vicious & attacking. Dreams about animals signal where some work can be done for the dreamer to be more of the positive & less of the negative.
  2. When new energy is opening up in the dreamer, oftentimes animal dreams show up which provides guidance and clarity. So I can say that the negative energy I’m dealing with is anger, jealousy, hurt, fear – especially of being attacked by someone/something lurking hidden beneath the surface. The positives opening up for me are: empowerment (bear energy), flexibility (snake energy), strength/courage (lion energy), and … I’m still working on the alligator and the gazelle…
  3. When we flip the negative emotion of the dream to its positive opposite then we shift our perceptions and can go for opportunities which can change our circumstances. I suspect the positive of the alligator is being able to be patient and wait for the right time to leap at a goal or opportunity. When I am a Positive Alligator then I don’t react to every passing whim or fancy or emotion. I can be clear-headed, focused & patiently waiting for the right opportunity to go for my goal.
  4. When the dream is positive and outcome is good then it’s a good idea to try to incorporate the qualities of the animal because they will help with the real life situations. If the outcome is negative, then it means some work needs to be done on the issues so the outcome can be positive.

Gazelles are fast (known to run up to 60km/hr) but in the dream when I see the gazelles run by signaling that a predator is coming I turn to run with them but I know I could never keep up with their speed and in fact my running slowly would make me more vulnerable if it’s a bear or mountain lion. So I turn back to see if anything is coming but it’s just a dark path. I wonder if I can hide or maybe climb a tree. Without knowing what the gazelles are running from I find it hard to know how to protect myself.

Running in dreams usually means wanting to escape something fearful in real life. Often times, the object of the fear is a person in a perceived position of power. Facing the fear means standing strong, having clear boundaries, and having the Courage to be really big to the task. People who are addicted to power have a lot of ways of trying to make their targets feel small. When we stand in our Truth & our own Empowerment then we can be really big to the task and not allow anyone to make us feel small or threatened.

There are a number of potentially negative situations which can happen, at home, in the workplace or in the community. There are a few things I’m facing right now – all of us are facing something to one degree or another. When we remember to hold a clear vision of a bright future in our mind & we take positive action towards our goals then we never need to fear any predator. We have all the skills, capacities, talents & tools needed to overcome ANY obstacle or challenge that faces us. When we dream about animals it’s a sure sign that great big new energy is opening up and exciting things are happening! We need not be afraid of the change and we can trust ourselves and our inner guidance to move us through any difficulty or deal with any challenge.

Photo by Will Mu on

Ask your Self: What am I invisioning happening in the future that scares me?

If the negative thing you imagine happening has HAPPENED to you in the past and you are afraid of it happening again, then this is a REAL FEAR and the solution is to have A LOT of Courage and to learn something new to deal with your current life circumstance.

If the negative thing you imagine happening in the future has never happened to you before but you have seen it happen to others (in real life, or movies, or on the news, etc) then the issue is ANXIETY. The solution for anxiety is to look back into your past, remember what you’ve done well & succeeded in before and then repeat those actions again with A LOT OF CONFIDENCE.

I will be writing a lot more about working with Fear & Anxiety in upcoming posts.

Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below and remember to subscribe to Healing With Dreamwork so you can be notified when the next blog post is published.

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Dream: my Metaphoric Sister Flirting With My Metaphoric Boyfriend

In the dream, my boyfriend and I are living together and happy. We’re at some sort of anniversary or birthday part & completely enjoying ourselves. I’m coming in from picking up something in the car and I stop at a convenience store to grab something small worth about $10. When I go to pay, the cashier says to me, “You’re So-and-so’s girl, right?” I said “Yes” and he says, “Well, he owes me $17 for this thing he bought last year” and he shows me my boyfriend’s photo and an old receipt he had hanging by the cash, with others who owed him. And he tells me I can’t buy this $10 thing from him unless/until I pay his in full as well.
I consider going up to get him from the party and bringing him here to pay. Then it occurs to me that he is up there at the party and my sister and mom are also there, as is his family and many of our mutual friends and neighbours. I become worried about he and my sister together because she always flirts with my boyfriends and I just want to pay this bill quickly and get up there so nothing bad can happen. But I hesitate to pay, even though I have the money and am okay with doing it, because I’m not sure it’s right.
Should I go get him? Should I leave all of it – my $10 thing and his? Should I try to negotiate with the guy/manager to let me have mine and say I’ll send him down? … What should I do? Every answer seems like it will have a good outcome so I can’t decide which one to do.
The dream ends like that, me standing there, with my hand on my wallet, prepared to pay his debt but not having decided if i want to or not.
crop man standing near cash machine
Photo by Tim Samuel on

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If You Dream of a Clogged Toilet, Start Looking For Better Ways to Let Go of Your S*&T.

17 September 2017

One of the most misunderstood metaphors in DreamWork/Changework is theIMG_0874 BATHROOM. Using a bathroom in a dream can best be understood by first noticing where is the bathroom? Is it in your home? Or a public location like a restaurant or school? Is it in an unusual place like an open field? The location of the bathroom in your dream can give you clues as to the message of the metaphor.

The problem with writing or talking about bathrooms in dreams is because they are the most private parts of a home or a public space. A bathroom dream symbolizes the most private parts of the dreamer. How the dreamer deals with anger, jealousy and embarrassment will show up as a dream about using the bathroom.

The positive message about a bathroom dream is that every human being experiences anger, rage, jealousy or embarrassment at one time or another in their lives. Since the purpose of life is to continue growing and developing skills & capacities it means the best way to live is in a constant state of change. Sometimes change is messy and sometimes it’s embarrassing. That is completely okay and to be expected. The better a person gets at working through their anger, jealousy, disappointments, anxieties, etc the better they will get at making their life really work out in amazing ways.

In my dreamwork this morning I was reminded that I have a tendency to hold things in and not want to share the very most private parts of myself. People might chuckle at this, given the very public nature of The Dreamwork Blog but believe it or not, I tend to be more of an introvert and there are parts of myself which I really don’t want to share publicly.

This goes for everyone, no doubt.

If you dream of a clean bathroom which is easy to use, it means everything is working well with you right now and you can just keep doing what you are doing.

If you dream of a clogged bathroom or toilet it means there is some work to do to unclog the way you express your emotions.

So if you dream of a dirty or broken bathroom then you can ask yourself: Where in my life am I holding back some negative emotions and how can I express these things in a better way?

Consider where in your life things are messy or complicated or uncomfortable. Wherever you experience a high degree of stress in your day-to-day life then you can notice that this is the problem area showing up in your dream and you can take steps to make the challenges go away.

The right way to deal with negative emotions will have something to do with your own natural gifts, skills and capacities. The things which come easiest to you and which you have been doing all your life will be a hint at the way you can continue growing by repeating your positive strengths. When you do that, you’ll find bathroom dreams keep getting better and better and maybe stop showing up altogether.

Dreamwork: Dealing With Someone’s Ego Mess and Moving Forward

13 September 2017

Dreamwork requires asking questions of the dream metaphors.

For example … What is a Mess On The Front Lawn?

The front lawn in the part of the yard seen by everyone. It is the most public part of a home-owners space.

A Mess is a good metaphor for the Ego. An Ego Mess is what happens when someone’s negative ego is trying to make someone else look bad to hide their own weakness & mistakes. The mess can be made up of lies, half-truths, deception, trickery, degradation, mocking, humiliation, chastisement and outright abuse.

A Mess On The Front Lawn left by someone else means someone is doing something which is making a mess of things for me and they are doing it by dumping a lot of stuff on me that doesn’t belong to me.

So what is it that someone can be doing that is making a big mess of my life and making me look bad, ruining my reputation with my landlord and creating issues between me and my neighbours?

There is someone in my life who is related to me who does exactly that. However, the battle with her is over now. When the dream shows up with her in it, I know it is left over feelings about the way she used to be, the way she used to treat me. And as I let go of the old negatives then I make room for new positives.

Everyone has dreams or nightmares about what happens to them when someone creates an ego mess in their lives. The way we learn to deal with the negatives strengthens our own character and is a breeding ground for seeds of positive growth and change.

The solution to this dream is to not stand still frozen on the lawn wondering what to do next. The solution is to 1) ask the owner to take her things off my lawn 2) talk directly to my ex-step-dad to see if he’ll take it all off 3) report the situation to the police 4) throw all the stuff in the trash and be done with it.

The key is that there are always options. Standing still and frozen does nothing for anyone.

When someone brings a big ol’ mess into your life, just assess the situation, make a decision and keep on movin’.

Getting rid of the clutter and trash is a great way to begin opening the doors to many more great opportunities.