The experience described below is one that almost all of us can identify with in one way or another. This is a waking dream—an experience that occurred during “real life,” and not during the dream state while asleep. Nevertheless, we will treat it as a dream.
A romantic attraction
I’ve been working for the same company for over five years. It’s a large firm, and our division has about a dozen employees. Turnover is not frequent, so we all know each other, and for the most part get along fine.
One day, I had a casual business meeting with a coworker about a project we were both involved with. We’ve had occasion to interact on our jobs for a couple of years, and we work well together. There has never been more than a friendly association. But suddenly, during this meeting, I began to feel an attraction that had never been there before. It was so intense, it made my participation in the meeting really difficult. I doubt if the feelings were returned. At the end of the meeting I felt confused and fairly overwhelmed. I couldn’t get her off my mind. I began to fantasize all kinds of things—including erotic ones that made me ashamed since I am happily married. Mostly, I didn’t know what to do about any of this, and I felt completely overwhelmed about my own ambivalence. Part of me very much wanted all this to stop. Another part of me seemed to be reveling in the fantasy.
What causes waking dreams?
One of the greatest illusions of life is that there is a difference between what goes on in our own consciousness and what takes place in the outer world—the world we experience and must interact with. Most of us recognize and “own” our own thoughts, feelings and actions. But when it comes to watching something play out outside of ourselves, we tend to assume that we are only observers and really don’t take part in the creation of the event.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever we perceive, we have created. But since we are usually not aware of having created the circumstances outside of our own beings, we can be surprised by them if they seem out of character. Such incidents—especially ones that startle or upset us—are waking dreams. Like any dreams, waking dreams come into our lives to point out internal conflicts that we may not be aware of struggling with. The difference is that with waking dreams, the dream story unfolds in “real life” not in the realm of our inner imagination while we’re asleep at night.
Another characteristic that waking dreams have in common with “sleeping dreams,” is that the dream stories should not be taken at face value: The above-related dream is probably not about a failing marriage or a desire to have an illicit affair. This man has other issues he is grappling with. This week, we’ll learn what they are!
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