Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

The Ubiquitous Bathroom Dream May 1, 2012

Have you ever had that dream where you need to go to the bathroom but experience all sorts of problems? Just about everybody has. Some of mine feature public bathrooms with several stalls in which all the toilets are stopped up and disgusting. Or there’s no toilet paper. Or all the stalls are being used. In others I’m searching for a bathroom with privacy. Sometimes there’s no door, or I enter and lock the door and there’s a window with no curtains, or the only toilets are in an open public room, or I’m mortified to realize I’m on a toilet in a public place where everyone can see what I’m doing.

I almost always feel the same in these dreams: pressure to urinate, a strong desire for privacy, annoyance, mounting frustration, embarrassment, self-consciousness, and fear of being observed and judged. Often I’m puzzled and feel undercurrents of self-criticism and/or self-pity: Why didn’t I notice the inappropriateness of my surroundings before I exposed myself? Why aren’t the people around me having these problems, whereas my efforts are frustrated at every turn?

Among Jungians there’s general agreement about the symbolic meaning of urination. Marie Louise Von Franz says, “Urinating is a symbol for expressing one’s innermost nature. The need to urinate is the one thing we cannot control.”  The details and emotions of the dream speak to the personality and issues of the dreamer. Jung said, “Pressure of urine in dreams and also in the waking state is often an expression of some other pressure, for instance of fear, expectation, suppressed excitement, inability to speak, the need to express an unconscious content, etc.”

To get the most from these dreams I ask myself things like, “When did I recently feel the need to express my innermost nature but find it problematic to do so? If I was alone—perhaps writing or planning my day—what prevented me from expressing my nature? Did my Censor want to suppress a truth I didn’t want to admit to? Did my Orphan believe I needed to push myself to produce outer work to prove my worth even though I felt a strong need to relax with no agenda?

 If I was with others, why couldn’t I express myself openly? Was it the topic we were discussing? The setting? The people I was with? Was I afraid my contribution wouldn’t be understood or valued, or that someone would be critical?  Did I want to join in but feel frustrated because I didn’t understand my feelings or know how to express them?

Essentially, my bathroom dreams seem to be expressions of the aspect of my personality which is a sensitive, self-conscious, self-censoring perfectionist: especially when it comes to expressing my emotions and opinions. I assure you I’m not always this way. In fact, I often feel confident and utterly free to be myself.  That I know and am increasingly accepting of both sides is a consequence of years of dreamwork.

I’ll never be completely free of tendencies that are more problematic for me, nor do I believe I should be. As Marie Louse Von Franz has said, “We all have a common man, or a common woman, within us with the reactions of the man in the street, and the strangest thing about it is that this is even an aspect of the Self, which is why in the Bible Christ is called the King of Kings and a slave.”  I used to feel uncomfortable about my bathroom dreams, but now I’m grateful that they ground me in reality and show me my humanity!


Recurring Dreams About the Persona November 20, 2010

Recurring dreams can be especially effective teachers. They describe important inner truths that require your attention. Once you recognize these aspects of your unknown self and can see their impact on your waking life, recurring dreams lose their value and disappear.

If a recurring dream makes you anxious or afraid, it’s usually about shadow qualities your ego would rather not face or painful experiences you want to forget. If it brings pleasure, joy, or awe it’s probably about progress in your journey of self-discovery. Either way, the purpose of a recurring dream is to bring insights that lead to a healthier, more fulfilling life.

For example, the “naked in public” dream shows how comfortable you are with revealing the naked truth about yourself. Feeling embarrassed and ashamed in the dream usually means you have recently exposed an aspect of yourself you wish you hadn’t. Conversely, being unconcerned suggests you’ve accepted a previously disowned quality and no longer care who sees it.

The common dream of teeth falling out usually pertains to waking life situations in which you’re afraid you’ve created a bad impression and believe you’re “losing face.” After all, having a strong set of choppers lets you “sink your teeth” into something and demonstrates your bulldog strength, determination and persistence. This dream tells you you’re concerned about losing power and appearing weak, impotent, or unconfident.

Dreams about our public personalities are persona dreams. We start wearing masks in childhood when we realize people are watching and judging us. A wounded soul might create a very withdrawn or rigidly controlled persona, or one that changes like a chameleon, or one that is always performing to impress or please.  These are disguises born of the need to shield the core Self from public view. A healthy persona has the flexibility to respond in a variety of ways appropriate to each situation without betraying the Self. Thus, we can sometimes be the teacher and at other times the learner; sometimes a curmudgeon, sometimes a clown; sometimes a sage and sometimes a fool. What truly matters about our persona is not how well it shapes the perceptions we want others to have of us, but how openly and authentically it reflects the truths of the soul beneath.

As a child I was relaxed and confident around others, but after my father died I grew fearful and painfully self-conscious. One recurring persona dream I still occasionally have is of pulling gooey, grainy gunk out of my mouth and trying to dispose of it without anyone noticing, but no matter how much I remove there’s always more.  This depicts an exaggerated concern about offending or annoying people with something that comes out of me. In another dream I haven’t had in years I’d be searching through a closet for something  to wear (clothes are common symbols of the persona) and be thrilled to discover an article of clothing I had forgotten I owned. This said that in my search for ways to enhance my public personality I had happily brought a disowned or forgotten quality into consciousness. 

Recurring persona dreams indicate unresolved issues about our public personality. With reflection we can connect these dreams to recent waking life situations. This awareness empowers us to be easier on ourselves and more relaxed and genuine with others so that our soul’s light can shine through for all to see.


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