Making Dreams Come True and Maslow’s Hierarchy


Everybody’s got something to say on the subject of making dreams come true.  Meditate!  Don’t think, just do it!  Use your mind!  Be here now!  Follow these twenty easy steps!   Think of something that nobody’s thought of before!  Dream big!  And that’s enough exclamation marks, I think.

The list is endless.  Dream big sounds pretty good, but dreaming on its own doesn’t lead to the coming true bit.  In fact, if you dream big but you don’t know what to do, what actions to take from one moment to the next, don’t know how to get back-up and support, how to deal with obstacles, chances are nothing’s going to really happen.

What stops you from knowing?   So many people say all you need for you dreams to come true is to be passionate and doors will open.  I can tell you from experience it’s not always true.  You need a whole lot more than passion.  You need back-up and support.  And to be able to access that, you need to know you deserve it.  Just like L’Oreal says “you’re worth it”.

If you don’t know you’re worth it, right at the core of you, and you don’t realize it, I think your chances of anything changing in your life are slim.  I was thinking about Maslow and his famous hierarchy of needs yesterday, walking along the beach at the edge of Africa.  Maslow said that when a person is struggling for survival, they can’t even begin to address their aspirational needs.

He was partly right.  Maybe I’m being too simplistic here, but it seems that when you’re struggling at a survival level you don’t have much of an idea that you deserve to be loved and supported and helped so that you can flourish and develop your aspirations and dreams.  And it’s not the struggling that makes you feel bad about yourself.  You feel undeserving and that’s why you struggle.  Well, it’s a catch 22 actually.

Fear jams everything up.   If you don’t address it, your imagination runs riot with every kind of worst case scenario, and the more imaginative and aspirational you are, the worse it gets.  You feel smaller and smaller and increasingly overwhelmed by a hostile world.  It can be emotionally paralyzing.  In fact you end up reliving in a very real and material way, the emotional experience you had as a child, how about that.  No support, needs not being met, being forced to be hideously adaptive, fighting for emotional and possibly even physical survival.

So how as an adult do you get from there to the “coming true” bit about having dreams?  One tiny step at a time is how.  When fear starts to run rampant, you reach out for somebody else’s perspective on you, you don’t let your imagination run riot with worst case scenarios.  You take a stand, you refuse to entertain ideas that blight your outlook.  You stay vigilant.  You do it differently to the way it was done to you when you were a kid.   You start feeling better about yourself.  Of course you do – you’re not letting yourself be bullied – albeit by yourself!  Creativity kicks in, you think of solutions to your struggle.  You start realizing it’s okay to ask for what you need in a practical way, not just an emotional one.  You figure out how to do that.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that being in survival mode stops you from being able to develop your dreams.  I fall in all the time.  But now and then I get a glimpse into a different way of looking at it.  Survival mode reflects your experience as a child, and it highlights ravaged self-esteem then and now.  Back then you couldn’t defend yourself.  This is your chance to do it over.  Defend yourself, stand up for yourself, claim your rights.

Call me a dreamer, but I reckon that’s where the coming true bit of dreams starts taking root.

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4 thoughts on “Making Dreams Come True and Maslow’s Hierarchy

  1. How did you get so smart? You summed up how I feel perfectly. My husband’s always telling me, I’m my own worst enemy. I use the excuse my life is getting in the way of living out my dream. The fact is I’m not even clear on what the dream is at this point. I sort of live day to day and don’t look too far ahead and never behind, and feel like things will unfold as they should. I need to be more assertive Jennifer and get to it. Your article gave me my push for today. Thank you. 🙂

    • Pleasure 🙂 I lost everything and knew I had to do whatever it took to not have it happen again! I had to look behind, didn’t have any option, really. I have a fantastic therapist and teacher, so I haven’t done it alone, and I’m not out of the woods yet, although hopefully I’m close to the edge, finally! I understand that dilemma, though, of knowing you want something more but not yet being able to identify it. The tension between it and your day to day life can be hideous. But I think the longing is like the shadow of the tree. If it’s strong enough to make us uncomfortable, we’ll find our tree!

  2. Spoken like a true step at a timer! If we could all just remember that when our shoes come untied we might be able to avoid falling all over ourselves. Thanks for the chin’s up!

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