When a dream dies, the heart aches. The bigger the dream, the greater the pain; the greater the pain, the harder moving ahead becomes, the greater the dangers.
A wise psychiatrist Charles Brenner listed what he called the Four Calamities of Childhood. He used Freudian names which turned me off. So I transformed them into the following.
- Loss of an object – think of Linus sitting by the drying waiting to have his precious blanket returned to him.
- Loss of power – think of Linus again having to give up his blanket to a stronger power.
- Loss of self-respect – follows naturally from a loss of power.
- Loss of love – love for the person taking away your blanket, your power, and your self-respect; loss of self-love because you feel less loved when power and self-respect are weakened.
REALITY CHECK These losses are Calamities of Adulthood and invade all the days of our lives.
SECOND REALITY CHECK The Calamities of Adulthood join with past Calamities of Childhood and both are strengthened and become more and more capable of locking us into despair or anger.
WHAT TO DO
Losses must be mourned. The pain felt and the feelings endured until life goes on, differently, but hopefully you emerge from a loss stronger and have learned some important lessons.
It helps to know what to expect and to let yourself mourn. Any loss starts the mourning process. That process as applied to loss dreams:
- Denial – Continuing to pursuing dreams that have zero chance of coming true. Told never to sing outside of the shower, not allowed to sing in a church choir, but still showing up for American Idle auditions? Big denial.
- Breakdown of denial – Truth dawns, usually slowly, but sometimes with the power of tornado, the erupting force of a exploding volcano, or the ripping apart of an earthquake. And sometimes you just stand “dead in the water of regret.”
- Stage of strong feelings – Shame, despair, anger are the big three. You rage, you moan, you weep, you blame others, you blame yourself. Regret and fear join in.
- Resolution - Accepting what is without the drama of the strong feeling stage and going on. The pain and strong feelings are remembered, but not felt in their original form. Nor do they keep you from being immobilized. Hopefully, this leads to finding a new dream more realistic dream.
The process is not straight forward, but a back and forth affair. You face reality, then deny again; you hurt then suck it up; you are angry, then shamed; you stand dead in the water; you march forward head high.
Trouble brews when letting go of a loss gets stuck before resolution is reached.
Examples: The loss of the dream of finding a perfect love keeps you from loving again. Fear of hurt taking over. The loss of being a big star keeps you from doing all you can with all you have been given. Anger holding off the possibility of making it to a new and more realistic dream.
The Mourning Loss Game plan: As with every emotional fitness game plan: Being aware of what you are feeling; naming the feeling of the moment accurately; measuring the strength of the feeling of the moment so you can keep it from bossing you; self-soothing so you express what you feel wisely; then in time, going on by letting go of the pain, forgiving life, others, yourself, and honoring your strength. Not an easy process, which is why this is a lengthy course.
You cannot keep your child from dreaming big and then falling hard. I know, I tried my hardest when my youngest son dreamed of being the next Keith Hernandez – the Mets first baseman when Dan was in Little League. Keith won eleven consecutive Gold Gloves at first base, the most by … times with the New York Yankees for the second-highest total among first basemen at the time. Dan had no baseball talent. He spent the most time of any of his team mates on the bench. We tried to discourage him; we even considered not letting him play Little League, but could not bear to do so as he loved Little League and as with most children he believed with all his heart the dream would come true if only he kept trying.
Reality set in when puberty set it. That often happens and announces a major step forward in the ability to think more deeply about things. One year, Daniel announced, he was still going to pursue his dream, but he was realizing it was going to be very hard and mean lots of sacrifice. He practiced more for awhile. Then came spring and he announced he was not going to try out for Little League.
“There are only 750 major league ball players and millions of kids like me. I’m not going to make it to the majors.”
Denial breakdown and lead to anger at us, “Why did you encourage me, when you knew I wasn’t good enough?”
A parent’s lot.
Sadder was that for a time he refused to even watch baseball games on televison, a previously happy pursuit. He moved onto other things, and now enjoys baseball watching once again, but it took years for him to reach that stage.
Ironically, Keith Hernandez was never allowed into the Baseball’s Hall of Fame, probably a lost dream of his. He should have been but those in charge of the doorway there barred him for reasons of their own.
First Tip: Encourage dreams, but label each as a hopeful future plan.
Second Tip: Encourage doing things for the satisfaction of doing, not rewards.
Third tip: When the teen years are approaching have a family meeting to talk about dreams, hopes, trying your best, and reality. My book How to Hold a Successful Family Meeting will help with implementing this tip.
DAILY PROMPT and relatedness to this post. Cue the Violins: If your life were a movie, what would its soundtrack be like? What songs, instrumental pieces, and other sound effects would be featured on the official soundtrack album?
I would want Marching tunes most of the time as they invigorate, but when one of my dreamz dies, I would want some moody blues to help me weep my way toward a new dream.
All the handouts and poster coaches for this course are being posted at the store so you can download them for free.
Apologies if you cannot find one. I am a Jill of all in this business, so some things take longer than others. If something used here isn’t posted yet, you will find lots of other offerings including inspirational quotes or more EFTI exercises. In time all will be posted.
LINKS OF INTEREST
- Holding On or Letting go of a Dream (emotionalfitnesstraining.com)
- Video teaching about Family Meetings (pinterest.com)
- Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
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Thank you and work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult but staying strong lets me find the good.