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Monday, December 19, 2005


Darkness Visible

I had a horrible dream last night that is still with me today. I want to blog about it because I think that it is vitally important to acknowledge that we all have a dark side.

In the world of life coaching, there isn't much talk about terror. Negativity in general is pretty rare. The profession is all about working with people as they move forward in an active, empowering way. My impression is that the focus is on getting people through tough places so that they can come out into the light.

My experience with organizations and schools has been even greater resistance to looking at the dark side. The people involved there can shy away from anything that isn't happy-positive, seeing it more as a pastoral than pedagogical/work-related issue. In my work, I find that the kids test my acceptance of negative imagery. In improv, if there's anything lurking beneath the surface, you can bet it's going to come out in a scene - as a bloody battle between slow worms or a sacrifice to the Toast God or suicide by perfume inhalation. When I yell encouragement and tell the players to die and come back as angels or ghosts, I'm accepting their dark side, even if the teacher I'm with is mightily disconcerted.

In the wake of so many school shootings and workplace retributions, the opportunities for people to express their normal fears and rages are disappearing. The instinct to repress and deny them is understandable, but short-sighted. It's more helpful to provide a safe way to express it. Sport provides that for many, but for the rest of us, there's always improv.

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I was wondering what the dream was about.

If it is of any assurance to you, I don't believe dreams have meanings. No warnings or secret meanings, just thoughts you happened to have remembered.
Our young children have been kept wrapped in cotton wool. This drives them to increasingly self destructive bahavior as they get older....as they seek the stressful environment that nature has prepared them for.
This stress pretty much ends within a year or two when we let them go on their own. They rise to meet and exceed our expectations.
Life stress is painful...losing a parent, having to work to survive...becoming the "man of the house" at 14. Girls assisting at birthings at 13. Such pain rarely creates a bad result.
Responsibility is the key.
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