Last night I had a scary dream. Not scary in the classic vampire or clown sense, but one where I was faced with making a choice. I won’t go into details, there were two options with two people, and I went with the one that offered, ultimately, the thing I wanted the most even though I didn’t trust the way of getting there. Suffice to say it was all about having to make a choice without enough information and having to make a decision that would force me one direction while losing the option of the other. Terrifying, at least to me who never wants to commit unless I’m convinced it’s absolutely the right thing, and then I commit with confidence. Making a terrible choice is a nightmare for some of us.
It’s interesting how fear changes as we age. As kids, our terror is clear. Creatures under the bed or the boogie-man in the dark hallway. Nightmares for me where about the house burning down or something happening to one of my parents. But as we age, our worries do too, manifesting as embarrassment and humiliation.
For me it was always the fear of failure and lately, as I contemplate my next big projects, that fear looms large, or at least it does in my dreams. My brain is working hard to process something and lately, my nightmares have been about failing at work, failing people who I respect, and, yes, making impossible choices.
Personally, I know that this is my brain processing something. It’s learning and growing and — I hope — helping me recognize situations that I can change. Reprogramming neural pathways is hard, but for all of those fears we don’t confront actively by day, our brains have to sort out on their own by night.
In our professional lives by day, we all work to project self confidence, but only at night, in our dreams, quite literally, does our brain recognize what terrifies us and help us confront us, one bad dream at a time. But still, I could do without so many nightmares.