“I don’t see what others see in me”. This is a saying that we can hear a lot of in society throughout all walks of life. Is this a default position we go to or are there cultural reasons for it? Certainly here in Scotland and the rest of the U.K. there does seem to be more of a tendency to play down our strengths as to do otherwise could leave you feeling uncomfortable. Is there a fear that by acknowledging our strengths we may be seen by others as ‘getting too big for your boots’ or ‘playing your own trumpet’. Does finding the fine line between confidence and arrogance play a part in our fear? You only have to look at celebrities who are universally loved by people all over the world who also can struggle and use self-depreciating comments such as; “What if I get found out, and am not as good as people seem to think I am?” This may seem like a silly thing to say given all the evidence to the contrary, but it does show that they are only human and can have insecurities like anyone.
Group members shared their own experiences of how they found acknowledging their strengths. Some people actually felt that it would be much easier to list their short comings. We then did an exercise where we asked people to write down the strengths and qualities they saw in one other and pass it back to the person so they could see the qualities others saw in them. While people found it nice doing this they still found it a challenge to take in and believe what people saw in them.
Today’s subject felt very relevant as this group is very much based on helping people build up their sense of worth. The hope being that through doing this it can play a part in being able to acknowledge their strengths without totally dismissing them.
At today’s group we looked at the fear of failure. Although our fears come from a protective place they can ultimately leave us feeling stuck and unfulfilled in parts of our life. If you’ve suffered disappointments in life it feel such a risk to try something new and it not working out. To avoid these disappointing feelings people may decide it safer to stay in the situation they know. In this case the fear of failure can feel more powerful than the possibility of success. It can feel so scary to take that leap of faith into the unknown. Group members gave examples of how they overcame fears and how it became the making of them. The thing to remember is that even if you try something and it does not work out you can always try something else. This of course does not take away the feelings of disappointment but it certainly does not make you a failure. We are learning all the time, particularly in the hard times. If we think back to being a toddler and learning to walk we do fall at times but we get back up and gradually learn to walk. Below is an inspiring video of people who have faced disappointments but managed to keep on trying new things.
If you are interested in attending the group please contact us and we will put you on the waiting list with the hope being that you will not have to wait too long.
The group had expressed an interest in spending a meeting exploring dreams and what they may mean. We all dream, not everyone may remember their dreams, and we found that people also remembered some very vivid dreams even from childhood. People also experienced recurring dreams, and some sleepwalking and talking.
We talked about people’s shared experience of common dream themes, these included being chased, but not being able to run or scream (paralysis), flying, or sky surfing or running so fast you could take off. Being on high places or cliff faces and having to let go, looking at big waves, driving out of control or plane crashes. People dreamt their teeth fell out and others dreamt about people they’d not seen for years randomly popping up and being reassuring. People had dreams about being back at school or taking a test or starting a job and not being prepared. Most people had the dream, or is it a sensation (?) of falling. Some of discovering new rooms in the house, whilst some dreamt of sweeties (sweet dreams?).
The stuff of dreams is still much of a mystery, and whether it is the brain resting and restoring, or consolidating memories, or whether they convey important messages is all still up for debate. The meaning of each dream is really up to the individual dreamer, however some generalised meanings for common dreams are below:
- Being chased may signify anxiety or feeling pressured, what are we running away from or avoiding?
- Linked to this is feeling paralysed, but this is because when we dream, our spinal cord switches off (to stop us from getting up and acting out the dream). For some people this remains in place after waking and can be very frightening as the body literally cannot move for a couple of minutes; this is called sleep paralysis.
- Flying can often be a euphoric feeling in a dream, signifying achieving goals and potential unless you can’t quite get off the ground which is maybe more about blocked or frustrated goals.
- Losing teeth can represent different fears, and commonly that of getting older or being unattractive.
- Showing up naked for work may be about feeling exposed or vulnerable.
- Dreaming about other people may be showing us different aspects of ourselves.
- It may be that dreams about pregnancy, babies and dying are all about new starts and changes in life.
- Taking a test which you are not prepared for or being back at school is maybe about not feeling prepared, or anxious, or lessons we need to learn from the past.
- Falling might be about needed to let go of something, loosen control.
- Dreaming about food, well we just might be hungry! Or we are need of some other kind of nourishment or learning and hungry for that.
- Dreams of water can be a reflection of how we are managing emotions and may include therefore dreams about still waters or stormy waves or fast flowing rapids.
Looking after yourself after a bad dream
Dreams and the emotions they create can have a powerful impact and lingering effect on us. Sometimes if people have experienced trauma, they may have bad and disturbing dreams about the traumatic event and wake from these feeling re-traumatised. We talked about how to ground yourself if this happens by reminding yourself where you are now, what you can hear and see and how you are safe. Equally it may be that a nightmare does cause trauma even it is not related to real life events.
Some sleep and dreams stats and facts:
33% of dreams contain bizarre elements impossible in everyday life
7 to 9 hours of nightly shuteye is best for adults
5% of the population can function normally on 4 hours’ sleep
11 days The longest anyone has stayed awake
100,000 Number of annual car crashes in US related to fatigue
31% of drivers in the US report having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point in their lives
30% of US workers sleep less than 6 hours a night
Everybody dreams but mostly people forget
Some people dream in black and white
Animals dream…and cats and dogs sleep for about two thirds of the time
Some blind people have visual dreams
Lucid dreaming is being asleep but in a state of awareness about the dream and even being able to control it
Your body is paralysed during your dreams and you can’t read or tell the time as that part of the brain is also shut down during dreaming.
Today we looked at things that are sentimental to us. It dis not have to just be a physical object it could a time or a place. Some things people chose were;
- Letters from loved ones
- Jewellery from loved ones
- 90’s ‘curtains’ hair style and flares
- 80’s hot pants
- 70’s Bell-bottoms and ‘New wave’ styles
It was an interesting and emotional experience to hear the reasons behind the sentimentality even if we do look back now and cringe at some of our fashion sense!
While preparing for our group programme in advance we are always mindful of the need to make sure it is finely balanced between light topics and others that are a bit heavier. After having a few deeper sessions it felt nice to mix it up today having a session on fun! It’s something that is so important for our well-being which sadly at times we can all too readily dismiss as un-important.
We did an exercise using spiritual cards and asked group members to choose a card that meant something to them. People found this useful as it provided an outlet to communicate how they felt. After this we played the card game adaption of the popular game show, ‘Catchphrase’. By the end of the game the scores between the two teams were fairly equal!
We finished with a look at what people’s favourite movies where and why. This evoked a discussion about the emotional attachment certain films held for people. Some of the films chosen were, ‘Cinema Paradiso’, ‘Kung Fu Panda’, ‘Back To The Future’, ‘Riding In Cars With Boys’, E.T., ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’, ‘Mary and Max’ and ‘The Godfather’ It was so nice to feel the passion and energy this brought to the conclusion of todays’ group!
We posed the question to people in the group as to whether receiving a mental health diagnosis had been a helpful experience. For those who had experienced a correct diagnosis and accessed the right treatment, this was extremely helpful as they could now understand what was happening and what to do to best look after themselves. For people where it had taken a bit of a journey to make a correct diagnosis, and where treatment for a condition which was not theirs was given, this was unhelpful and distressing and in some cases caused more damage. We talked a little about the diagnosis of BPD-Borderline Personality Disorder, this is a bit of a controversial diagnosis; it suggests that there is something wrong with a person’s personality. Using the term ‘disorder’ can leave people feeling upset and stigmatised. The diagnosis is confusing and little understood; it is a clinical diagnosis based on a collection of symptoms, which are often parallel to the effects of trauma. However, it is not an actual defined disease or condition, more possibly a reaction to adverse life events, and therefore not a permanent condition or state of being.
We talked a bit more about how people sometimes felt stigmatised or defined by some of the words used to describe some mental health conditions:
People felt that some of these were quite descriptive, sometimes in an unhelpful way leading to assumptions and stigma and a lack of understanding. Others felt that the not so descriptive terms could be helpful as they had experienced that if someone genuinely cared and was interested they would ask about the persons mental health condition in a way as to understand how it actually affected them.
Receiving a diagnosis can feel helpful and liberating for some while for others it may be another way of keeping stigma and unhelpful terms used in society alive.