Getting Your Life Back on Track

I want to share with you a remarkable first interview with a new student of Integral Deep Listening (IDL), who we will call Ted.  The night before our first Skype appointment he asked for a dream that would help him to understand how and why he is so stuck in his life. Here are Ted’s life issues and his dream, followed by his comments about it followed by my translation of the comments of two interviewed dream characters and comments about the process as a whole made by Ted and myself. Finally, you can look at the transcript of the actual interview, from where my comments are derived.

What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?

1. What am I doing with my life? What is the work I need to be doing? – 21 – after finishing university…

2. How am I holding myself back? Like Groundhog Day! There’s something that’ asking me to go somewhere but I’m not hearing it…

3. Self-esteem! Not being particularly supported as who I am. Not a lot of pride in where I am 49 yo….A distancing from other people. I feel incomplete or inadequate…I am in a trying to catch up place. Inferiority…Goes back to 3-4-5-

The dream:

I was asking myself before I went to sleep, “How did I get into this state of stuckness?”

I am watching a horse race with three horses. As a young boy I am caught in the hind legs being dragged by the trailing horse. I am watching this and thought, “That doesn’t make sense.” Also, the thought, “Why isn’t anyone stopping this?”

To those reading this: What do you think this dream would be about if you had it?

Ted decided to interview the audience, a character that was implied in the dream but was not included. We then came back and interviewed the horse whose hind legs he was caught up in. Here are my interpretive remarks taken from what they said. The original remarks follow.

You are taking a broad perspective, being entertained, watching a competition in which you are involved as a young boy. In this perspective you are pretty relaxed, mellow…A nice state, pretty civilized. There is a comeraderie. However, you feel superficial when you live your life from this perspective, like it doesn’t feel like it’s contributing to anything. It feels a little self-indulgent and a bit image-conscious somehow. You follow fashion.  When you take this perspective you are in the role of the witness of what is happening in the arena of your life competition. You access a perspective that can stand back and be entertained by the spectacle of your life! This perspective is fine with the way your life is going; it feels no need to change.

There is another perspective that you take, one that is raised to compete but is not free. Instead it is being commanded and controlled and is bothered by it, but which is conditioned by the expectations of others to compete, to run your life as if it were a race. Instead of being controlled by you, this perspective is hindered by you because you have fallen off but have not let go.

 

 

This competitive approach to life is submissive in that it doesn’t break free. Instead, it just follows the pack. When you take this perspective you are not up front and you are not leading. This is a perspective you can take when you feel behind, fallen, and need to catch up!

 

 

Horse: I want to be free of the confines of a race track and being a spectacle for others; I preferred to be valued and have my strengths utilized somehow.

(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

(Character), how would you score yourself 0-10, in confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, peace of mind, and witnessing?  Why?

Confidence:I feel pretty relaxed from the strength in numbers, sheer size. 8

Horse: 5 I feel strong and healthy as a runner. I am nervous about breaking away, about the consequences of doing that.

Empathy: 2 We are here to be entertained! It’s all about self-indulence…

Horse: 7 I don’t want to kick this kid that is caught in my legs; I’m concerned about the other horses – are they getting exhausted?

Wisdom:  2 I feel pretty naive…

Horse: 3 I feel a little like a dolt, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” “Lead me around…”

Acceptance: It feels like a high number but deluded. Whatever…6 or 7

Horse: 2 or 3 I feel resentful being in this situation.

Inner Peace: 8 We are in the shade, stands, amused

Horse: 3 There’s a lot going on right now – someone caught in my legs running this race in front of a big audience, not wanting to be here!

Witnessing: 10 We are an audience!

Horse: 6 or 7 I’m aware of what’s going on but I am a bit invested in it as well.

Audience, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different?  If so, how?

We wouldn’t be an audience! We wouldn’t be frittering our time away with these events. We would be more engaged in life. We would have to shed our sense of entitlement, that the world is about entertaining US!

Horse: I would be more of a stallion! I would be running free with a group of horses that have a similar attitude. It would be magnificent!

How would the life of the person who created you be different if he naturally scored in all six of these qualities all the time?

Ted would be an asshole and wouldn’t know it! Arrogant! A bit self-righteous! A sense of entitlement!

Horse: Not great! It doesn’t feel that different!

But if he were a ten in all of these he would be a leader! He would plot his own course but with a gentleness.

If you could live the life of the person who created you for him, how would you live it differently?

We wouldn’t live his life! It’s completely boring! It’s not entertaining!

Horse: I would surround myself more with a natural environment with a slower pace of life; I would be surrounded by a similar breed.

If you could live this person’s waking life for him today, would you handle his/her three life issues differently?  If so, how?

1What am I doing with my life? What is the work I need to be doing? – 21 – after finishing university…

We wouldn’t worry about it! We would just look to have fun! We wouldn’t take ourselves so seriously!

Stallion: ???

2. How am I holding myself back? Like Groundhog Day! There’s something that’ asking me to go somewhere but I’m not hearing it…

 Stallion: I would dismiss it! I would believe I am actually where I am supposed to be and appreciate where I am. Not second-guessing myself. Be grounded in where I am.  

3. Self-esteem! Not being particularly supported as who I am. Not a lot of pride in where I am 49 yo….A distancing from other people. I feel incomplete or inadequate…I am in a trying to catch up place. Inferiority…Goes back to 3-4-5-

As a collective we have no inferiority…Someone else can compensate for our deficiencies…

Stallion: I bask in my magnificence! I wouldn’t be thinking that way! I can’t conceive of how that would enter my mind!  

What three life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of his life?

Stallion:

1. I still feel trapped in the identity of being a stallion…I would want to fly! Hands! The ability to manipulate things! I can run and be strong and am free but I feel constrained. I feel more like a consumer than a producer…Some kind of artist…I would not be limited in my expression.

2. I would make more time for play and not take life so seriously. I get caught up in my own identity as a stallion!

Stallion, in what life situations would it be most beneficial for Ted to imagine that he is you and act as you would? 

Not presently,

Why do you think that you are in Ted’s life? 

There is a progression of transcendence…and I’m mapping a pathway!

What do you think about Ted’s dream?

It makes more sense now! There is a progression of where I am and what’s possible and what’s possible beyond that again!

How is this person most likely to ignore what you are saying to them?

He will! He will dismiss me! It serves him right! If he’s not willing to listen to me he gets what he gets! He’s just going to turn around and fall asleep again!

What would you recommend that he do about that?

????

What have you heard yourself say?

I feel like I am just on show for the audience, there to entertain them. They don’t care about me…They don’t get who I am. I don’t know why I should care about them because there is little depth about them either. The horse took a shape that is less than who he really is to see who I really am and where I can go. There is compassion and selflessness in that. The horse is frustrated he has gone to this elaborate length to create this whole elaborate story and it still hasn’t gotten through. It hasn’t been sufficient to shift me! I hear his frustration!

If this experience were a wake-up call from your deepest, truest inner self, what do you think it would be saying to you?

I need to take more risks; I need more play; There’s something about trust…it’s sitting there waiting for me if I just step into it.

Recommendations:

Read over the interview at least once a week to keep from falling asleep again entirely! It’s function is to remind you, particularly before you go to sleep at night, of the big picture of why you are alive and where you are headed…

 

Ted’s comments over a week after the interview: At this point I’m in awe that some part of me (i.e. not my usual ‘logical’ consciousness) was able to create and offer such a succinct allegory that not only captured the current situation, but also provided a broader context and direction for the characters in the dream … and possibly me.

My comment: Like you, I was in awe when I first stumbled across this process in 1980, when I created it. That awe made me very curious and kept me digging.

Ted: I see the suggestion of a path forward but that doesn’t feel like it has ‘landed’ or integrated with me at this time. Perhaps the greater impact has come from the recognition that there is some other ‘intelligence’ that is supportive and interested in my life that wants to communicate with me!

My response: I have thought about this “intelligence” a lot. I have found reducing it to parts of myself to be inadequate, although partially true, while also finding objectifying it to be “other” than myself to also be inadequate, although partially true. My solution is to refer to these perspectives as “emerging potentials” that are wanting to be born or emerge into consciousness, to be heard, to be integrated, rather like seeds “want” to sprout out of the ground.

Regarding the sense that this has not yet landed or integrated, this is also normal, healthy and natural. Forced integration for stuff that is not yet consolidated is rather like giving birth prematurely; it is better to go through the waiting and discomfort while things take shape, congeal, form. Again, you can’t force a seed to sprout or a flower to bloom, but what you can do is create circumstances that encourage certain potentials to emerge. Think of what we are attempting to do with you and your life in this fashion. We are not attempting to re-create your life in my image or in yours, but to take under advisement the perspectives of emerging potentials which seem to see the “big picture” better than either of us do. Does that make sense?

Ted: The process itself was fun and pretty straightforward. I was also pleased that when an answer wasn’t forthcoming that that was ok (unlike school, where you’re expected to have all the answers!). I’m also appreciative of the space you provide to allow things to unfold organically.

My comment: This is a big lesson of this process: deep listening is about allowing things to unfold organically, and I find it to be quite distinct from what we normally experience growing up or in our everyday cultural interactions.

 

Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teacher or a doctor?  It’s easy and fun for you to imagine that you are this or that character in your dream and answer some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind.  If you wait too long to answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing to say!

Audience, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?

I am watching a horse race . We are about a thousand people…It’s just a spectacle, theater…we are being entertained.

Horse: I am the last of the three horses and I don’t know why he is caught in my legs. If I could be free of him, I could. It feels like he’s holding on to me. The other two horses had jockeys. It’s as if he fell off of me and is trying to not let go! He is tangling up my legs!

What do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?

We like that we are pretty relaxed, mellow…A nice state…We are pretty civilized…There is a comeraderie.

Horse: I’m bred for racing! I am bothered by these riders. I’m being commanded! I have been conditioned! That’s the expectation! That’s how I’m perceived, that there’s nothing more to me than running races!

What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses?  What are they?

We feel superficial, like this doesn’t feel like it’s contributing to anything. It feels a little self-indulgent. We are a bit image-conscious somehow. We follow fashion.

Horse: I am submissive in that way, that I don’t break free. I am just following the pack; I’m not up front, I’m not leading.

Ted, you are in this person’s life experience, correct?  What aspect of this person do you represent or most closely personify?

The witness! The part that can stand back and be entertained by the spectacle of life!

Horse: The part that feels he has to catch up!

Audience, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change?  If so, how?

No awareness of a need to change.

Horse: I want to be free of the confines of a race track and being a spectacle for others; I preferred to be valued and have my strengths utilized somehow.

(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

(Character), how would you score yourself 0-10, in confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, peace of mind, and witnessing?  Why?

Confidence:I feel pretty relaxed from the strength in numbers, sheer size. 8

Horse: 5 I feel strong and healthy as a runner. I am nervous about breaking away, about the consequences of doing that.

Empathy: 2 We are here to be entertained! It’s all about self-indulence…

Horse: 7 I don’t want to kick this kid that is caught in my legs; I’m concerned about the other horses – are they getting exhausted?

Wisdom:  2 I feel pretty naive…

Horse: 3 I feel a little like a dolt, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” “Lead me around…”

Acceptance: It feels like a high number but deluded. Whatever…6 or 7

Horse: 2 or 3 I feel resentful being in this situation.

Inner Peace: 8 We are in the shade, stands, amused

Horse: 3 There’s a lot going on right now – someone caught in my legs running this race in front of a big audience, not wanting to be here!

Witnessing: 10 We are an audience!

Horse: 6 or 7 I’m aware of what’s going on but I am a bit invested in it as well.

Audience, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different?  If so, how?

We wouldn’t be an audience! We wouldn’t be frittering our time away with these events. We would be more engaged in life. We would have to shed our sense of entitlement, that the world is about entertaining US!

Horse: I would be more of a stallion! I would be running free with a group of horses that have a similar attitude. It would be magnificent!

How would the life of the person who created you be different if he naturally scored in all six of these qualities all the time?

Ted would be an asshole and wouldn’t know it! Arrogant! A bit self-righteous! A sense of entitlement!

Horse: Not great! It doesn’t feel that different!

But if he were a ten in all of these he would be a leader! He would plot his own course but with a gentleness.

If you could live the life of the person who created you for him, how would you live it differently?

We wouldn’t live his life! It’s completely boring! It’s not entertaining!

Horse: I would surround myself more with a natural environment with a slower pace of life; I would be surrounded by a similar breed.

If you could live this person’s waking life for him today, would you handle his/her three life issues differently?  If so, how?

1What am I doing with my life? What is the work I need to be doing? – 21 – after finishing university…

We wouldn’t worry about it! We would just look to have fun! We wouldn’t take ourselves so seriously!

Stallion: ???

2. How am I holding myself back? Like Groundhog Day! There’s something that’ asking me to go somewhere but I’m not hearing it…

 Stallion: I would dismiss it! I would believe I am actually where I am supposed to be and appreciate where I am. Not second-guessing myself. Be grounded in where I am.  

3. Self-esteem! Not being particularly supported as who I am. Not a lot of pride in where I am 49 yo….A distancing from other people. I feel incomplete or inadequate…I am in a trying to catch up place. Inferiority…Goes back to 3-4-5-

As a collective we have no inferiority…Someone else can compensate for our deficiencies…

Stallion: I bask in my magnificence! I wouldn’t be thinking that way! I can’t conceive of how that would enter my mind!  

What three life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of his life?

Stallion:

1. I still feel trapped in the identity of being a stallion…I would want to fly! Hands! The ability to manipulate things! I can run and be strong and am free but I feel constrained. I feel more like a consumer than a producer…Some kind of artist…I would not be limited in my expression.

2. I would make more time for play and not take life so seriously. I get caught up in my own identity as a stallion!

Stallion, in what life situations would it be most beneficial for Ted to imagine that he is you and act as you would? 

Not presently,

Why do you think that you are in Ted’s life? 

There is a progression of transcendence…and I’m mapping a pathway!

What do you think about Ted’s dream?

It makes more sense now! There is a progression of where I am and what’s possible and what’s possible beyond that again!

How is this person most likely to ignore what you are saying to them?

He will! He will dismiss me! It serves him right! If he’s not willing to listen to me he gets what he gets! He’s just going to turn around and fall asleep again!

What would you recommend that he do about that?

????

What have you heard yourself say?

I feel like I am just on show for the audience, there to entertain them. They don’t care about me…They don’t get who I am. I don’t know why I should care about them because there is little depth about them either. The horse took a shape that is less than who he really is to see who I really am and where I can go. There is compassion and selflessness in that. The horse is frustrated he has gone to this elaborate length to create this whole elaborate story and it still hasn’t gotten through. It hasn’t been sufficient to shift me! I hear his frustration!

If this experience were a wake-up call from your deepest, truest inner self, what do you think it would be saying to you?

I need to take more risks; I need more play; There’s something about trust…it’s sitting there waiting for me if I just step into it.

Recommendations:

Read over the interview at least once a week to keep from falling asleep again entirely! It’s function is to remind you, particularly before you go to sleep at night, of the big picture of why you are alive and where you are headed…

Posted in Escaping Victimization, Finding Yourself, inferiority, Integration, Life Issue, Low Self Esteem

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