When she was little she was taken away by strangers. After years of chronic nightmares, this is how she found her power and why working with archetypes like animals, colors, and elements is so magical, yet practical.
My nightmares focused around being chased and tormented by ‘The men without faces’. The only dream in which I was rescued, I climbed into a water tower and met with a shark who ate the man chasing me. In therapy, I practiced cognitive therapy to induce lucid dreaming about swimming with sharks. My father helped me design a waking dream in which I made a special dream suit and weapons from, to protect me from the men without faces. I continued to have nightmares up into my late 20’s, but instead of being helpless, I fought back.
Later, Sidian helped me design a new waking dream in which the sharks spoke with me and gave me their skins to make a new sharkskin dreamsuit. Sharks represent to me, an innate and pure hunter instinct and with it, the ability to protect and fight for myself.
When we undergo a very significant life event, changes are made to our life story. That seems like such an obvious thing to say, but to really see the impact, let’s look at it from the opposite extreme; like a robot. To a robot, being taken away by strangers is merely a series of meaningless events. This happens, then that happens, and so on. The events do not change the robot’s thoughts, feelings, or behavior in any meaningful way. It is only when we add the human element of meanings and personal story that the life changing gravity of the events comes into play.
When something changes our story it changes who we are.
Pay attention to that story element as it is going to explain why these seemingly mythical archetypes like animals, colors, and elements are able to be so important for us.
An impactful story can contain anything. It doesn’t have to be anything close to reality. This is because personal myths do not exist in the realm of fact and falsehood; they exist only in the realm of ‘true for you’. For example when I was a baby my father was playing with puppets in front of me and I loved it. Then he had to tend to something on the stove and he tried to set the puppet up to stand on its own. It promptly keeled over in front of me and I completely freaked out. To this day I have very dark feelings about horror movies with inanimate objects that come alive.
The impact of that story for me has nothing to do with real life – puppets aren’t alive. Puppets can’t die. A puppet did not die in front of me. But none of that matters. It was a true experience for me and that’s all it took.
Now the secret to working with animals and such. I explained all the above to show that personal myths take hold in a place vastly influenced by metaphor, feeling, and imagination. Archetypal things like animals are models (archetypes) of deeply embedded values and meanings in our psychology.
Many people see dogs as models of loyalty, friendship, play, and protection. Because of this we can use their symbolism, images of them, words about them, even scents to mindhack our way into those experiences. Why do you think companies, sports teams, politicians, and so many other institutions funded with billions of dollars utilize animals, colors, shapes and so on? If every company just had black and white branding it wouldn’t mean anything. They bring in archetypes to convey all manner of meanings in split seconds.
How can you harness that power? If dogs calm you but socializing makes you nervous, you could wear faux fur to social events and touch it to remind yourself of dogs. You can remind yourself that your own pet’s hair is inevitably all over your clothes and therefor they are with you. You could do dream work involving dogs and socializing. Reframe socializing as an opportunity for play and friendship. Study the behavior of dogs and reward yourself when you embody their nature. You can get a tattoo of a dog like a magic rune right on your body that puts a ‘spell of calming’ on you.
Now look how magical and romantic life becomes without ever leaving the realm of reality or practicality. In fact you’ve embraced the reality that personal myths are an every day force in your life, and you’ve embraced the practicality of using it to your advantage.