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A Depth Approach to Transitioning to the New Year

The Role of the Doorway

It's that time of year again. The momentum and anticipation started in the weeks leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. For some, anxiety about family sets in quickly and for others it is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.

Before we know it, we will find ourselves in the psychological space of new beginnings without really thinking too much about it. Maybe you always laugh and quickly come up with some resolutions right before or after the stroke of midnight. Or maybe you really do give it some serious thought, but no matter how determined and inspired you feel every January, the evidence that you’re unlikely to stick to the new version of you hides out in the back of your mind, just counting the days until you give up or adjust your goal downward.

But why must this be so? Maybe because we tend to jump into the goal setting or fantasy of the outcome without reflecting about whether some of our deeper patterns of thinking and behaving need to go. There’s a physics law that applies to our psychology too. We have a fixed amount of psychological energy, it doesn’t increase or decrease, rather when we feel depleted, more energy is working harder in one area of your life, maybe even helping heal your body from an injury or illness.


Sometimes the energy that you could use to work towards a goal is hiding out in your shadow, keeping something hidden from your awareness, and until the energy is liberated, that new version of you can’t emerge. You’ll even feel frustrated about not being disciplined enough when it’s not really about discipline.


But how do you know where the energy is stuck, and which pattern (complex) needs to be relieved of its job now? It could be a pattern that worked well for years, even decades, and suddenly it’s the very thing that’s holding you back now that you’re approaching the edges of your psyche to expand in some way.


Between the old year and the new year, between one version of you and another, there is a doorway, a threshold, that you didn’t even know was there. Once you realize that every day you are presented with doorways, you can build the capacity to be aware of the different ways your unconscious tries to get you to explore something. The outcome of the exploration includes finding meaning in the patterns, which leads them to begin to diminish in favor of a new perspective or way of thinking or behaving.


Some doorways can be easy to walk through with a little awareness and a new insight, feeling like a light-weight aluminum screen door. Other doorways can seem closed to you, feeling like a huge heavy wooden door protecting something ancient. For years leading up to my midlife unraveling, I was obsessed with pictures and images of closed doors. And the doorway can feel like a tunnel where your only choice is to assume there’s light at the other end.


So, how can you, right now, in the next couple months, bring a depth approach to transitioning to a new year psychologically?


As always, my own experience inspired this post. My stories are meant to bring concepts to life and entertain.


Step #1 – How Are You Feeling These Days?


As I sit at my new dark wood high dining table, overlooking the courtyard in my new apartment complex in Annapolis, MD, it’s almost like the 26 months I spent in Jacksonville Beach was a dream. I haven’t even been able to write a post yet about all the psychological torture and growth I experienced.


During the four months back home living with my daughter, I felt like I was nesting, for what I’m not quite sure, just preparing myself to leave the nest again. Leaving home is one experience, returning as a visitor is another, and then leaving home again is yet a completely different experience.


The Greek God Hermes, as Trickster, returned in full force. Each two steps I have taken forward cause me to feel confident that I know where my Self is leading me. Then comes the step backwards, which humbles me. It’s not anxiety I feel anymore, rather frustration, impatience, which reflects my resistance to letting go of old ideas. About what? I’m not quite sure, but money has something to do with it.


After weeks of a quiet dream life, three nights this past week brought several dreams that I knew were significant. One night brought a pair that seemed determined to get me unstuck.


The dream:

I’m on a grassy hill, and I look behind me to see a small animal.

A gentle gust picks me up and rocks me back and forth.

I go higher and higher, but not too high.

I’m not in control and yet, I’m not afraid.


When I attempted to journal about the dream, I couldn’t find the right words to articulate what I had felt in the embodied dream, which left a residue of feeling in my waking life. An email that morning from a colleague sharing a poem made me laugh. It became obvious the meaning of my dream needed to take the form of a poem, an activity I hadn’t taken part in for months. This also told me I’ve been allowing my mind to call the shots too much.


This is the Tanka I wrote. FYI, it’s just an expansion of the Haiku form. It’s five lines of syllables numbering 5-7-5-7-7.


In Sync


Gentle gusts of wind

Lift me up, but not too high

Something is in sync

A sigh, then liberation

Allowing what wants to come


The thing about poetry is it’s not the mind that gets it, in fact, poetry frustrates the mind, the masculine need for straight forward meaning. Rather, if a poem resonates, you have successfully come to know something on a deep level even if you cannot articulate the meaning aloud. The root of the phrase to know, is to relate, and relating happens through the body. This is illustrated by the fact I only understand my dream when I read my poem, not my journaling about the dream.


Anyway, over time, I’ve developed the capacity, and you can too, of knowing when a dream is prophetic, not in the literal sense, but in a preview sense, an affirmation that I will get through my current psychological obstacles. In this case, I smiled and laughed out loud when I saw that the dream was affirming that I will be able to let go of control over something.


So, Step #1 is about just lingering in what life is like right now, paying attention to dreams that seem interesting or events in your waking life that leave an emotional charge (are triggering), and even obsessions with Netflix series/movies and also fantasies.


To explore these images and find some meaning, you can listen to chapters from my Soul book on my podcast – Dose of Depth. You can also buy your own hard copy of my book Your Soul is Talking. Are You Listening? It’s meant to be a lifelong guide, and/or you can download a PDF with guidelines to exploring your images.


Step #2 – Death by Fire


Perhaps the dream about being in sync was to help me surrender to what would come next. Kind of like Hermes bringing a calm before the storm. The storm showed up in the next dream, which occurred on the same night.


The dream:

I’m in a house, and my daughter is there.

I glance out the window to my right and I see a small fire.

For some reason, I get distracted or don’t think much about it.

A few minutes later, I look again and there’s a wall of flames

that has already burned through one wall of the house.

I yell, “Get out of here!” to Rachel and we leave.


Later I go back to see the damage.

Nothing left but a rectangular shape of darkness on the ground.

For a moment, I wonder about what I have lost.


I squat down and sobbed for a bit.


This is a complex dream, which I haven’t even figured out yet. The important thing for me is that I will survive this part of the psychological alchemical process and realize that whatever part of me that needed purifying is not about loss, rather allowing a more evolved version of me to emerge.


CG Jung explored alchemy from a psychological perspective, discovering that the literal alchemical process reflected and mirrored a psychological journey within the alchemist. This process is brought to life in a more understandable manner as Jung’s theory of individuation, which is the framework for my coaching services.


The role of fire in the alchemical process is to facilitate the emergence of purer substance. Think about fire as heat, desire, burning down, disintegrating and then think about times in your life when you experienced significant growth. The growth came after a process that required a dismantling of something, a perspective, a belief, assumptions about yourself or others.


And it’s not always a trauma or something negative. Allowing myself to get swept up in an oddly ironic relationship with a man seventeen years younger brought feelings of danger as many of my assumptions were challenged. The relationship was never about a lifelong partnership, rather it was meant to force the reconciliation of what had been opposing forces in my unconscious and the outcome was significant spiritual and psychological growth. Fire is about intensity, and maybe your whole way of thinking must be burned to the ground for you to become more of you.


So, the goal of Step #2 is to consider what ways of thinking and behaving are getting in your way. Wherever there is an emotional charge consider that a little bread crumb. When you find yourself in a less than ideal situation or feeling intense negative emotion (e.g., frustration, anger, shame, helpless, scared, mean spirited, etc.), ask yourself, “When is the first time I remember feeling like this?” Then just be still and see what comes up, maybe a memory from an impressionable time of your life. Now you have something specific to explore. A good follow-up question might be, “What did I learn about love in childhood?”


That will get you going. You might think it’s your boss, or your sister-in-law, but where there’s more than a neutral annoyance, that event is meant to bring your attention inward. That doesn’t excuse the bad behavior of others, rather look at your emotional reaction as an invitation to explore something in you that has nothing to do with the other person or even that specific event.


To explore these images and find some meaning, you can listen to chapters from my Soul book on my podcast – Dose of Depth. You can also buy your own hard copy of my book Your Soul is Talking. Are You Listening? It’s meant to be a lifelong guide, and/or you can download a PDF with guidelines to exploring your images.


Step #3 – Find the Metaphor at Play in Your Waking Life


To a certain extent, I’m struggling with the same complex I always struggle with, feeling secure in an uncertain situation. I was doing so well, and now that I have a new business, I am needing to hold the tension between allowing and making things happen, and this challenges my assumptions about what it means to be responsible. I constantly must pull back an old behavior of being manic, which is just another way for my ego to clamp down on my meandering feminine and my new desire to be creative.


My psyche has helped me out by making me feel exhausted, so I don't have the energy to be manic. Even today, I had to give myself permission to take this entire Sunday and devote it to allowing this blog post to be written. I’ve proven to myself over and again that when I create, more clients show up, or something else works itself out. There’s not a direct correlation, which is what makes my ego frustrated.


So, after journaling about the burned down house dream, and finding that my daughter represented the part of me that’s rounding the corner (She can finally feel the light at the end of the tunnel; she’s in her second year of graduate school for counseling.), I had another dream a couple days later:


The dream:

I was in a house, walking towards a man that I cared about.

I didn’t know who he was.

He was lying on a bed, and I think he was sick.

I mentioned treatment but got the feeling he might die.

I crawled onto the bed, lay next to him, and looked into his eyes.

I sobbed and tears ran down my face and his.

All these dreams are so fresh that I haven’t made much meaning of them, but houses are symbolic of our psyche, and beds are places of intimacy, and this man who I don’t recognize is a part of myself I’m not familiar with that is ill and may die.


The sobbing isn’t about losing him I feel, rather it’s a result of feeling intense love, honoring a part of myself that just is tired and wants to be released.


I also wondered if these sobbing dreams were warning me that a big cry was coming soon or that I was holding back a big cry without knowing it. It’s been so long since I had one, and typically I’m excited about them, because big cries indicate something has shifted and soul making has happened, meaning making.


So, Step #3 is about finding what the heck this has to do with your life and how you can transition into the New Year. The goal is to find the metaphor somewhere in your life. For me, I must continue to let go of the need to know and to control how my life is unfolding, because the more I need to know the slower it happens. I prove it to myself all the time. Still learning to trust my Self, which I suspect it will be a lifelong lesson for me to learn.


To explore these images and find some meaning, you can listen to chapters from my Soul book on my podcast – Dose of Depth. You can also buy your own hard copy of my book Your Soul is Talking. Are You Listening? It’s meant to be a lifelong guide, and/or you can download a PDF with guidelines to exploring your images.


I Can Help as Your Depth Psychology Coach


You might find your metaphor quickly once you explore your images, or you might want to take advantage of my year-end coaching special: A Depth Approach to Transitioning to the New Year. Three sessions for $225 that must be used before February. For more information, just shoot me an email.

So, take some time, ask your ego to take a coffee break, and tap into the inner wisdom of your unconscious. It’s not a two plus two equals four task, rather the unconscious speaks in ways that work around the ego’s need to affirm, confirm, and control. I call it the Sneaky Psyche, and it meanders, entices, inspires, and even seduces. If your mind comes up with meaning too quickly, you’ll soon be humbled.


It's all worth it though. I bet you’ve been trying to get someplace new for a while, and it’s like there’s this glass ceiling. You know it’s of your own making, but which part of you is holding you back from getting everything you want out of life? Fear of getting everything we want can be what’s holding us back, and that’s where we need a depth approach.


I’m so excited for you to begin your adventure crossing the threshold from this year to the next. Let’s compare notes when we get to the other side.


Have a peaceful holiday season!


Dr. Deborah






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