Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places?


Unknown-1Have you ever put yourself in a relationship or situation that filled a deep need and seemed totally harmless?  And then suddenly something happened that made you aware of an unsuspected dark side of what you were doing? And it got so out of hand that you couldn’t control it and were swamped with anxiety and dread?  

Most of us have experienced something like this at some point in our lives. So what do you do?  Ignore it?  Keep plugging away and hope for the best? Pray? Fantasize?  Wait for a prince to ride up on a white horse and rescue you? Lay the blame on someone else while denying your part in it?  Ask for help then get angry when it doesn’t come? Run away?  Carry your guilt, fear, hurt and anxiety in a secret compartment and refuse to visit it while telling yourself you’re just fine?  Only to put yourself in another situation somewhere down the road that’s just as bad as, or even worse than the first? Then go through the whole thing again?

These are the responses of an immature ego with limited self-awareness. When we see this happening to someone we know, it’s obvious that whatever they’re doing isn’t working.  Yet, like a hamster on a wheel, some people keep traveling the same old path without getting anywhere no matter how good their intentions or wise their counsel.  I’ve been there.  Maybe you have too. Old habits and attitudes have strangleholds on our egos, regardless of how toxic the consequences. So how do we break free?

“To live fully, we have to…bring back to life the deepest levels of the psyche from which our present consciousness has evolved.” Carl Jung

images-2But how do we follow Jung’s advice?  Ask your unconscious for a dream. Dreams compensate for our conscious attitudes by showing us different ways of viewing our issues, especially problematic ones. The unconscious contains everything about ourselves of which we are unaware, including hidden potentials we haven’t yet discovered or alternative ways of being we’ve disowned. Situations like the above are invitations to bring them into our awareness so we can move forward.

This is not easy for an ego that’s oblivious to the inner life and thinks dreams and fantasies are “just our imagination.”  Plus, few of us welcome the effort it takes to reflect on them. Most difficult of all is giving up our illusion of being in control and trusting some unknown part of ourselves to help us out. We experience the power of these archetypal entities all the time in strong emotions, urges that seem to come from nowhere, and synchronicities, yet we rarely “waste” much time trying to understand them. But it’s the only way to go if we really want to grow. Consider this:

“The essential thing is to differentiate oneself from these unconscious contents by personifying them, and at the same time to bring them into relationship with consciousness. That is the technique for stripping them of their power.  It is not too difficult to personify them, as they always possess a certain degree of autonomy, a separate identity of their own. Their autonomy is a most uncomfortable thing to reconcile oneself to, and yet the very fact that the unconscious presents itself in that way gives us the best means of handling it.”  Jung: Memories, Dreams and Reflections, pp. 185-188.

images-1If we’re dead serious about wanting out of our ruts—and it usually takes desperation to bring us to this point—asking the unconscious for a dream about our situation will trigger an immediate response.  Within a night or two we’ll get one or more dreams. We won’t understand their symbolic language or meaning right away, but, if we persist step by step the rewards will come. My certainty of this comes from 26 years of treating my dreams “as if” they have objective meaning. Once I chose this path, it wasn’t long before I realized they actually do!

Our highest purpose is to grow more conscious and accepting of the benevolent otherness within and without so that we might live in love instead of fear. We can’t will ourselves to manufacture love or consciousness with mental effort alone.  These and other rewards only come with personal experience and a regular practice like dreamwork. With time, our toxic fears, shadows, habits and attitudes lose their power and are replaced with trust, peace and overflowing gratitude and compassion.

If you’re looking for love, I promise:  you can find it in your dreams.

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

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0 Responses

  1. <3 Lovely post.
    As I'm exactly the kind of hamster you're talking about – someone who keeps trying to fix the relationship patterns, but never seems to succeed – I appreciate the push ever-deeper into dreamwork.
    Recently I've been taking an online course in shamanism with Sandra Ingerman, and the journeys have been very powerful, but my dreams also have been speaking so clearly, so precisely to the love question as well as other issues. It all feels very very healing. We'll see what might come next… 🙂

    1. It’s good to hear from you, Katalina. I’m so glad this post has given you a nudge to go deeper into dreamwork.
      I know of several people who have found shamanism to be a very useful practice, and others for whom writing and/or art provides the best portal to the unconscious. Different personalities are drawn to different practices. Dreaming and writing work best for me, but I’ve also explored shamanism, yoga and meditation, all of which deepened my awareness in some way at various stages of my journey. However, I never stopped writing and dreamwork because they have been the most appealing and beneficial to me in the long run. There’s really no rule or limit to which or how many practices we use. The only rule I know is to commit to at least one that connects your conscious self to your inner world.
      I do hope you’ll let me know when you find out what comes next! Blessings on you and your journey. Jeanie

      1. Dreams are always there, with you, I find – a constant friend. But I suppose for some people, who doesn’t remember his dreams, this isn’t apparent. Fact is, I’ve kept a dream journal for decades now, and that is probably why they are a reliable presence, a constant dialogue.
        Last week I submitted a few artworks to the IASD conference. If they accept them, seems I have to deliver them in person… Would be such a great excuse to come down 🙂

  2. Yes, that’s it exactly: dreams do keep a “constant dialogue” going on in me!
    Oh, how lovely it would be to meet you in person! I do hope your art is accepted. I’d love to be able to see and enjoy it along with you!

  3. Super duper timely for me, Ms. Jeanie.
    One of my Saturnian resolutions just this month was to begin dating after a two-year hiatus. It is a painstaking process of constantly questioning if what I’m attracting is just a bunch of old habits/patterning or evidence of new growth. I am not at all sure that we can ever be totally objective with ourselves, try as we may. That is so cynical for 29! LoL
    Either way, I appreciate your wise advice to ask for a dream; I find journaling to have the same effect of tapping into those unknown parts.
    Thanks for your wisdom.

    1. I love these synchronicities. I wish you well on your re-entry into the dating scene. I don’t think you’re overly cynical. I totally agree that we can never be totally objective with ourselves, or with our dreams either, for that matter. But I do believe that if we keep asking for and working with our dreams and journaling, and try our best to find personal meaning in them, we’ll keep moving toward more objectivity. I also believe that if you stay open to synchronicities related to your dreams and outer relationships with the people you are dating or thinking of dating, they can help guide you in the right direction and toward a good match.
      In my loooonnnnggg experience with these things, I’ve found that the keys to growth are 1) intention, 2) persistence: i.e. tolerating the tension of the unknown without abandoning ship, 3) staying conscious of your inner and outer experiences via a regular practice, 4) trusting the unconscious to respond in benevolent ways, if not immediately, then somewhere down the line, and 5) acting on your intuitions. (Hmmmm…..it occurs to me that I might have another blog post in what I’ve just written! Thanks for the inspiration!)
      Thanks for writing. I hope you’ll keep me updated on any progress with your new “project.”
      My best, Jeanie

      1. Well consider our inspiration reciprocal, because I just wrote a whole post based on this, and linked back to it twice. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did yours. Thanks for being a Wise Woman!

  4. I look forward to reading your post. I’m not sure I deserve your honorable title, but I’ll try to live up to it. Thank you for your kindness and trust in me and my work. Jeanie

  5. I”m struck by how this seems both magical and practical at the same time. Magical in tuning into these ‘art pieces’ created each night deep within oneself and practical in how you describe it (above) affecting change in life circumstance and psychological health. Your book title ‘Dream Theatres of the Soul’ (which I intend to read) uses a plural form of ‘Theatre.’ Is this referring to the many dreams one has or the many functions of dream? Thank you for these revelatory postings.

    1. Thanks for the great question, Steve. The theatres I refer to pertain to the five major elements in the psyche that are featured in our dreams: ego, persona, shadow, Anima/Animus, and Self. I see dreams as little mini-dramas made just for us, and I think of each of the major elements as having a theatre of its own in which its dramas are played out. I wrote this book to help others understand the basics of dreamwork and came up with this image as a useful framework from which to approach their dreams. Do let me know if you find it helpful when you read my book. And thank you for that!

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