learning to dream

I mentioned yesterday that I've been doing a lot of thinking about how my emotional reserve may be holding me back, in weight loss and in life. Unfortunately, at this point I've got more questions than answers, but in the spirit of 'identification being the first step' I'm going to put my questions out there and hope to work through to find the answers.*

My first question is about dreams. Cammy commented in response to my post,
Writing about your hopes and dreams is an excellent way to get them sorted out!
And that’s exactly what I want to be able to do.

I've found my mind wandering and daydreaming recently about getting slim and becoming a Mum. It really scares me to have such thoughts. I have a real issue with dreaming. I never let my mind go to places I don't trust or believe I can find in reality.

I've said before how I've always had problems envisioning myself slimmer. I just couldn't let my imagination take to me to a place of such immense hope, only to fail and have that hope painfully shattered. A couple of years ago I got so close and now that things are back to going well again, I catch myself imagining getting even closer. It lasts all but a fleeting second before I put such thoughts back in their place: either that I'm not going to get there, or that when I do, my 159 kilo's worth of excess skin will put pay to any chance of feeling good about it.

Now that I've reached my OK-to-start-trying-for-babies weight I've also been looking at young families and daydreaming about that being us one day. My next thoughts are then often around everything that could possibly go wrong, I'll get twinges in my tummy and be convinced I'm about to have early onset menopause or I'll fear that I'm just not fertile. I won't let myself dream without putting it back in its place.

I was the same with my wedding. I have been a guest at over 50 weddings throughout my life, and yet never ever let myself dream about my own big day, not even as a young girl. My own wedding dreams didn't start until I was engaged and knew it was actually going to happen - it's no wonder then that I drove myself to distraction with the pressure and stress of perfection during the planning.

I think it's all a part of my over-developed sense of self-protection. The same parts of me that would rather numb emotions than let myself actually feel and process them, would also like to protect me from the crash landing of a failed dream. I know it's held me back with my weight loss and I suspect it holds me back from pushing myself to find a new career too.

When I read this out to my hubby, he agreed and said how difficult he finds it that I will never share aspirations with him, never push ourselves towards a bigger house and a better life. He despairs about how much I'll worry about bad things that may never happen and yet won't get excited about the good things that also may or may never happen.

How do I learn to let myself dream?

I can't expect to achieve my dreams, if I won’t even let myself dream them.

*Sorry if you had high hopes about insightful observations, it's nothing but question marks here :$


AlleyCat said...

No answers, sorry! I do know that recognising the behaviour is the first step & you can move forwards now. It may take time, but I think you will get there!! Good luck with the ongoing exploration into this.

Loved yesterdays post about your kitties - they sound like such characters!!!

kathrynoh said...

For me, it's really scary when my dreams go from being airy fairy things to that moment when I realise I actually can do something to try to achieve them. Good luck with your dreaming :D

Liv said...

damn it, I'd just written a big comment and lost it!

I let myself dream by using a variation of mindmaps rather than words. Get a big pad of paper and coloured pens and draw pictures of where you want to be. I use my mind map/goal board to focus and somehow not expressing in words allows you to play with ideas.

If you don't want to draw then get some old magazines and cut out pictures of your dreams.

Just something that works for me.

bekkles said...

Hey Ani,

I recognise so many of the things you write and I think I know how I managed to learn to dream. It was to have a dream plan A and then develop a really attractive plan B, so that if Plan A didn't work out I was still excited about something, For example I had an entire life plan about becoming a paediatrician and working in the 3rd world as plan B to my dream of meeting the man of my dreams and starting a family.
After doing this for a long time I now have just learned to dream. I still find there is always a plan B but its less of a defense mechanism now and more of a habit.

Maybe journalling or even writing short stories that are truth based fiction might let you take your mind through some of your dreams.

I also felt the same about not being fertile. I was paralysed by fear that I might be too overweight to conceive or some other problem. It took away some of the enjoyment of the wonder of trying for babies.

I hope my rambling has helped a bit. Maybe tell us about your dreams too.... we believe you can reach them!

Cammy said...

The fact that you *want* to acknowledge your dreams is huge. I hope you find your answers to whatever is blocking you.

Here's a link to a zenhabits article I read not long ago. Maybe there's something in it to provide a spark!


Big Girl said...

I'm sad for you that you don't let yourself dream. I find it really comforting that I can go places in my mind. I may never get there in "real" life, but I have the opportunity to go in my mind.

Maybe if should take small steps and let yourself think about something just outside of your comfort level and see what happens.

Good luck to you about this.

wildfluffysheep said...

That last sentence rang so true with me. You have given me a lot to think about missus.

I never have any answers, always more questions.

It's sooooo true about recognising whats holding you back, it is great first step. It will get easier.

ani pesto said...

Thank you for such great responses. I've said it before, but there really is a lot of wisdom out there.

@Liv - I love the idea of using magazine pictures. That way it doesn't seem like I'd be trying to imagine myself in a far off unattainable place, I can put myself out of the context of the dream to let myself go there and perhaps gradually find my place in the picture (if that makes sense).

@bekkles - that's a great idea and fits in so well with my way of thinking, I'd definitely like to explore that further.

@Cammy - great link, thank you, it could have been written for me personally.

@Big Girl - I think you're right, small steps is definitely the way to go. Silly that I noticed I'm in danger of applying my perfectionist all or nothing thinking to this if not - and that's no way to dream.

@AlleyCat, kathrynoh - thank you so much for your best wishes

@wildfluffysheep - I look forward to seeing where that thinking takes you too

Cherry said...

After years of half hearted attempts at weight loss, I finally managed to lose over 80lbs and so far have managed to keep it off (two years and counting)

I'm in no way a touchy feely sort of person but I have to put the weight loss and the fact that I have kept it off down to the fact that I regularly listened to the 'I can make you slim' CD by Paul McKenna.

Two of the major exercises are visualisations where you imagine the slimer version of yourself, and see yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you.

As time has gone on I've also started storing up my favorite slim memories for replay, like wearing great dress for the company dinner, or completing the 4 hour hill walk and still smiling at the end of it.

In some weird way I think using these visualisation techiques has reprogrammed my brain. I don't even try to understand it (I'm an engineer and that part of me doesn't even want to believe it) but it worked for me, and might just be a good tool for you to start to let yourself dream a little.