I often wake up at 4:30 AM in the midst of a very demanding and intense dream. The dream is usually one of conflict, argument, or internal problem-solving. Sometimes I can fall back to sleep after a bathroom visit (I wonder what the correlation is between dreaming and a full bladder?!) and in the morning I rise with a hangover….an emotional hangover. Something does not feel quite right. And it’s usually due to hidden conflicts.
Hidden conflicts are emotional wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are rooted in my inner voices (Saboteurs) that tell me to keep up a façade of “everything’s okay”. But everything is NOT okay. In fact, turbulent experiences from my past have a ripple effect. They churn and bubble like white-water rapids struggling to go downstream but hitting every rock and boulder along the way.
What’s really bothering me? That’s the question I often need to ask. For example those dreams…they usually take place in a church, in a parish where I’ve served, in circumstances when I was still in ministry as a Catholic priest. They are dreams that are attempting to resolve some hidden conflict that upon waking I try to forget.
What IS really bothering me? Truthfully it’s the injustice and lack of charity I’ve experienced in and through many of the governing institutions of the church. It’s the sense that there was never a place for my personality and talents, but also the self-defeating notion that I used up the best years of my life and trying to change, or at least function, in a seriously dysfunctional system. Consciously admitting that I have these hidden conflicts takes them out of the realm of my Saboteurs and bathes them in the light of my wise Sage.
I notice that if I don’t address these hidden conflicts consciously, then they continually pop up during my waking hours. They take the form of impatience, anger, fear, and perfectionism. They manifest when I’m in a hurry, during rush hours, experiencing the dark, New England winters, or dealing with intense friends who drain me of energy. They grow in strength when I worry about my finances or that I will not get more coaching clients.
I just want to be in more control of my life…that’s really what the dreams are telling me. My hidden conflicts and my external ones too, are reminding me as a Highly Sensitive person that often I feel it’s “me against the world” as I struggle each day to function fully in the midst of sensory overload. Acknowledging this silences those pesky Saboteurs and reminds me that I value and love myself, that I am whole and complete. And as I enter my seventh decade of life today, that the best is yet to come! Happy Birthday, Michael!
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