My Imprisonment Dream

On December 8 I dreamed about feeling imprisoned. Richard’s recent post on Imprisonment Dreams inspires me to share the dream & my analysis. I believe the dream is calling me to be more like an eagle. The thing stopping me from soaring like an eagle in my own life is the fear of criticism. I’m working on this fear using Richard’s transformation technique which involves doing personal & private inner work to understand how criticism works to shut me down and then how to shift it so I am no longer affected by it; no longer afraid to act from my True Self.

Here is the dream: I am in a large 3-4 story mansion but it’s not clear whose house it is or why we are there or how long we are staying. The uncertainty & unknowns about our circumstance brings me to a high state of anxiety in the dream. I’m feeling a bit nauseous because of the uncertainty. I’m looking around this enormous old house, with its gorgeous dark wood stair case and ornate detailing above doors and around windows. I’m looking for someone who can tell me what’s going on. Instead, I find children all over the house. Playing tag, playing video games, making snacks, building block towers, climbing over furniture. They have the run of the place, totally unsupervised, and I am now beginning to notice the whole house is quite cluttered. I try to move from one room to the next but there are about a dozen chairs in the hallway, half of them rocking chairs, which are impossible to climb over or move aside.

Photo by cottonbro on

So I go into one of the bedrooms where I find my real life dog, Chloe, and her 4 siblings. Chloe comes to welcome me at the door and I pet her and greet her with love. But then I notice that she’s always had these 4 siblings but I’ve neglected them. Only ever fed and walked Chloe. Never the rest of them. They don’t look undernourished or ill. They must have found a way to meet their needs without me being the one to do it, but I feel a touch of guilt that I have not shared my love with all of them.

Then I leave that room and gradually somehow find my way to a door to the outside yard. There I see all the adults of all these children. They are playing sports, games, relaxing in a hammock, etc. Doing all sorts of things all over the yard. I feel the desire to join the adults but am also concerned about the two dozen children running around unsupervised in the yard. As I’m thinking about what to do, someone comes up behind me and it startles me. Then I suddenly shout to the adults that the children are running around destroying the place. The adults give me an unappreciated look and one-by-one they leave their activities to come inside and get the kids under control. I don’t feel good about it. As soon as I say the words I regret having said them.

As I go through the elements of this dream, I realize it’s an imprisonment dream because I’m feeling “jailed” inside the crowded & cluttered house. I could just leave the house to join the adults in their recreational activities in the yard but something holds me back. The thing holding me back is fear of criticism. When I imagine myself joining any of those activities, or initiating on one my own, I see the others criticizing me one way or the other. I think about staying inside the house with the children, perhaps to attempt to create some order with them and the chaos, but it seems more than I can handle or complete satisfactorily. I imagine the parents criticizing any attempt I might make at bringing order indoors as well. So I am imprisoned. Where are the open spaces? Where are the opportunities? Where are the signs of encouragement which will show me what to do next? Where is my strong inner voice telling me that whatever I choose is okay?

This dream is a clue to me that in my waking life I am feeling imprisoned. At home, in my work, in my community. In my waking life I feel that no matter what I say or do I will be criticized. This is keeping me from creating order within my Self and it’s also preventing me from building closeness with others or from experiencing any joy doing things with others.

What is the solution? How do I transform this?

I’m going to practice the step-by-step approach outlined in Richard’s series on Encouragement and I’m going to see what small actions I can begin to take while holding a strong sense of confidence built up internally by letting go of others critical words.

The big difference between where I was when I started practicing this in 2012 and now is that I am now the “boss” in my own cleaning business and I am now the Chair of the Board of Directors of my own nonprofit. I now have the power & authority to not just create open spaces for teams to thrive but also to be the encouraging cheerleader voice to others.

When I allow the criticism of others to make me feel imprisoned, I can do the inner work to shift the situation so I can discover where is the best way to go next. As a leader in my organization and business, I can be the positive voice of encouragement for them so that we can achieve our intentions in our work. In the dream, I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t see what way to go next. Every option seemed to lead to being criticized, chastised and beat down. But now, in real life, I clearly see what I need to do next and which way to go. As always, I enjoy documenting the process publicly so others can share in the triumphs and celebrate the growth, even when it is slow and small.

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