Dear Donagh…, Maybe you can help me. I suffer a lot from fear. I have to say I'm suffering from it all the time. People would be very surprised to hear me saying this because they don’t know. I even dream about terrifying things at night. I'm often being chased by an animal- that's the most common. I hardly ever have any nightmares about bad things happening to my family, it’s nearly always about myself. I don’t know if I should be thankful for that or ashamed of it. I'd like to be free of it, what I'm really afraid of is that it might get worse, I don’t want to think about that. I'd be grateful for any advice. Mairin.
Dear Mairin, I learned a trick about dealing with fear, and I'm happy to share it with you. Like you, I had a frightening dream and couldn’t sleep after it. It was then I learned the trick: become the thing that is frightening you. In your case, become that animal; feel its power and see how alive it is. Take a good look. I mean, after you wake up! (But it would be even better if you could do it in the dream!) The lion is not actually in the room, it’s in your head and it’s a powerful charge of energy. Whose energy? Yours. That lion is you. It’s a vast amount of energy, and you have simply forgotten that it is yours; so it appears in your sleeping mind as a dangerous animal.
You are lucky that your fear hasn’t grown to the point where it is affecting you visibly. (You said people would be surprised if they knew.) And you are also lucky that your fears concern yourself rather than the family. Don’t feel ashamed of that: your nightmares would be of no use to them!
Some people will tell you to try to find out what lies at the bottom of it: what you are afraid of really. But some part of you already knows! Your unconscious knows, and it symbolises it in this brilliant way. Why would you reject such a perfect image of fear and go searching for tortuous words and explanations to put around it? I'm suggesting that you accept the image that came to you and relate to it. Continue the conversation rather than stand back to analyse it. What's wrong with the unconscious’s own language?
Yes, get to admire and even love that lion, that animal! Are you sure it’s not a lioness? It’s the lioness that usually does the killing! Whether lion or lioness, it’s you. So you have a certain claim over it that one doesn’t have over a real lion. You can make it male or female, to suit. Another remarkable thing about such creatures is that they all can talk! This is a great advantage; it means that you can engage them in conversation. The first few conversations may be a bit strained, but after a time you can be the best of friends. At that stage, unfortunately, the animal will stop visiting you. It means that you will no longer be suffering from fear.
Let me know how you get on. I'm eager to know.