Do you give yourself permission to dream?
And what we want, we know we can’t believe,
We have all learned to kill our dreams.
-Twenty One Pilots; We Don’t Believe What’s On T.V
Allowing yourself to dream of what you truly want is an extremely vulnerable experience. It takes courage to let yourself invest (even in your mind and heart) in the possibility of having what you desire and being willing to acknowledge how it might not match your current reality.
The more stuck you feel in the life you are living, the more threatening dreaming will seem to you. If you feel powerless of being able to change your reality, you won’t want to let yourself dream of alternatives that feel completely out of your reach.
The catch, though, is that without dreaming we may just stay stuck. As scary and vulnerable as it feels, we must allow ourselves to dream. Once we dream, and connect to that dream and fall madly in love with that ideal reality, the more real and possible it will become to us. Unfortunately though, when we start, it feels impossible.
And might I add, impossible in a very different way than some “impossible” dreams we actually do let ourselves HYPOTHETICALLY connect to – like winning the lottery.
The “winning the lottery” dream is one a lot of people allow themselves to dream about because it is so absurd and so out of their control. Connecting to that dream doesn’t put them on the spot for doing ANYTHING (except maybe buying lotto tickets). It doesn’t confront their reality – because in this dream it will be something that magically happens to them, and then life will improve. It isn’t asking them to push their comfort zones, confront their ideas on what is achievable, what they are capable of, or ask them to test their courage or dedication in making it so. Investing in those type of impossible dreams keeps us off the hook for making meaningful changes in our lives; leaving that dream life to the fates of Lotto 649.
When we do let ourselves dream a bit, we have a lot of “rational thoughts” that quickly stop ourselves from dreaming, or disconnect from the ones we were dreaming of. Some of these are stories we have about society and the way the world works (“I need to work a full-time job until I’m 65, that’s just the reality of the world we live in.”). These stories limit us in having to follow the rules we have about the world. The other stories that rush in to pinch us out of our dream-state are stories we have about ourselves (“I would never be able to xyz” “Maybe if I was smarter/richer, but I’m not xyz enough”) . These stories limit us in an even more restrictive way; because EVEN IF this would be possible for “someone”, we believe WE are the reason it can’t happen for us.
If you find yourself here, I encourage you to challenge it. Stories are just stories. Once we fully embrace that; whether it’s a societal norm or our own doubts about our capabilities, we can see those stories as simply stories – and start editing.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been there; whether it was keeping myself awake or scaring the shit out of myself so that I’d wake up from a dream. It’s not an easy process to start allowing yourself to dream, and then once you do to keep letting yourself do it. To actually lean into the possibility instead of drowning it into the “in an ideal world” realm of ridiculousness. It’s not like all of a sudden you are going to let yourself believe the “impossible” is possible. It’s a process. A process that requires you to lean into things that feel impossible. A process that demands you keep giving yourself permission to do something that seems even more of a waste than buying lotto tickets. Investing in what you want, even if it seems like it will never come true.
Without dreaming you won’t connect. Without letting yourself connect and lean in, you can’t even begin the process of seeing the possibility in the impossible. And without seeing possibilities, your dream will always be impossible. When you start to see possibilities and ways you may be able to make it happen, the steps you could take to get closer to reaching your dream start to appear. Once you see steps, it’s time for action. Again, permission and courage are your anchors and propellers here.
PERMISSION AND COURAGE!! (Just in case you missed that)
If you haven’t seen the TED Talk or completed the “Drawing your Future” exercise, I encourage you to watch it and then do it!
The exercise involves drawing your current state and your desired reality; and then identifying 3 bold steps that would get you from here to there. I did this exercise about a year and a half ago for the first time. I still have this bristol board up against my wall. The thing that stands out to me the most on it now is the visible struggle I had to give myself permission and have the courage to really stick to what I knew was the bold move I really had to make.
I started one of my steps with the label “Quit current job” and then added “Reduce hours OR” and finally added “change hours” because I wasn’t even at the point that the dream was even remotely possible or reasonable (Not even the reducing hours felt doable!). I was starting to see my dream (as outlined in my desired reality) but I wasn’t allowing myself to lean into that dream enough to accept that quitting my job was an actual step I would take.
I look back on it now and laugh, as I did actually quit the job I had, and now that I’m on the other side it’s a whole different story. Now those impossible dreams are my almost everyday reality, and the steps I identified to get there (that once felt too insane to even write down) are simply parts of my story.
With practice, giving yourself permission and courage to dream does get easier. I find I am much more playful with my dreams now; allowing myself to dream of what I want without getting caught up in the HOW. I don’t need to feel like it’s realistic to let myself dream about it. Sure, not everything I dream will become true. I don’t even need to be sure it’s what I want in order to let myself dream and sit with it, and I think this is important because if we limit ourselves to dream about things we are sure about, it restricts our possibility-creator-machine!
Sure, maybe in a year from now I will decide not to buy a school bus and make it my home; however, by allowing myself to dream of these things that intrigue me that I hadn’t before considered, it opens up for more and more possibilities to be created too. Who knows what I’ll dream up if I keep allowing myself to dream!?
When I give myself permission to dream I start the path of making it happen. And the path to making it happen is all about new possibilities and creativity. It may not lead where I first thought, but no matter what it will lead me down a path of POSSIBILITY; instead of being stuck in the IMPOSSIBLE. And I am quite confident that if I keep dreaming and stay invested enough in a certain dream; one way or another, I will be living it.
It’s kind of funny that in order to stop getting stuck in IMPOSSIBLE, you need to invest in the IMPOSSIBLE. It’s by looking through the impossible that we see what’s really possible. It’s by DREAMING that we can create our new REALITY.
With permission and courage; be a dreamer, a possibility machine, and a creator of your ideal reality.
Dream. I dare you.