I've had dreams all week long of the guy I've been dating totally letting me down. In some, he's breaking up with me for his ex-girlfriend (whom I've never even seen). In others, he bails on the date I planned for us this week. And in the moment, they feel SO DAMN REAL—to the point that I can't help but wonder if they are, in some future state, the truth.
In the past, I would have interpreted dreams like this as signs that this outcome was certain. My anxieties had proved to be well-founded in the past, after all. To me, anxiety and intuition (the voice that guides us and ultimately does have a sense of knowing) were one and the same. My anxiety stood to protect me from what it feared. But today, I know that anxiety isn't our intuition.
Anxiety exists because it tries to keep us safe from perceived harm. It's an extension of our ego—a fight-or-flight response that evolved to keep us safe from touching fire or running into oncoming traffic. So, while we can give anxiety credit for trying to keep us safer, it also flares up at inopportune moments, like where we're being emotionally vulnerable.
Anxiety, unfortunately or fortunately, doesn't know it all. But we often let it determine our choices, and that's where things get hairy. Our ability to manifest is powerful enough that if we believe in our fears, they become our reality. The more this happens, the more evidence we build up in our minds supporting the fact that our anxieties are our truths. "Our fears were right," we think. When really, we've made them right. And the cycle goes on.
The good news is the more we do the work to separate fear and love, ego and intuition, the more accurately we begin to interpret our fears and anxieties. We can see that they don't necessarily come from a place of knowing. And when we stop believing in our anxieties, we stop giving them power. This changes the whole game. It breaks the chains.
We realize that just because we fear something doesn't mean it's going to happen. Outcome after outcome amounts to tangible evidence (again, our simple minds are constantly seeking patterns) that our anxieties are actually not the truth. There isn't a secret part of us that is all-knowing. It's self-preservation which, if left unchecked, can limit our potential and keep us from living our best lives.
So how do we identify the crazies? How do I, for example, decide if I should be seriously concerned that my guy is going to bail, or if I'm creating the situation in the first place?
I've learned that all it takes for me is to slow down and ask a few thoughtful questions:
1. What fears are creating these dreams, thoughts, etc.?
In my case, it is the fear I'm giving too much and being taken advantage of. It is the fear of getting hurt, being left, opening my heart too much, and allowing myself to be blindsided, then having to start over with someone else. It is the fear of being embarrassed, of not being enough, and of being too much, all at once.
2. Are any of these thoughts coming from a place of love?
Hell, no! None of these serve me or are truly protecting me. Remind yourself of this—hatred is not the opposite of love; fear is.
3. Are these "fight or flight" responses?
Yes! This is my fear-based response to getting too close to something that makes me uncomfortable and wanting to push it away in order to distance myself from the potential for pain.
4. Are these fears based on past experiences or subjective evidence I've stored in my mind?
Yes! Guys have let me down in the past—too many times. I'm afraid that because I haven't seen him for a few days, he must be on his way, too. But he hasn't really acted like he isn't interested anymore.
5. Based on your answers to the above questions, are your dreams/thoughts/premonitions coming from your intuition or from your ego?
6. So what does my intuition have to say?
(At this point, it's time to slow down, take a deep breath, let your mind be quiet and your heart speak.)
You're scared. You're buying into old beliefs about yourself and about love. But the truth is, I love you. You are safe. He's a good person. You have the capacity to take this chance because you are so loved.
Sometimes the answer will be the same—maybe your anxiety is simply screaming the same message that your intuition is gently prodding you with. If that's the case, listen. The key is to get in touch with what is coming from a place of love, under the layers of broken records repeating in your mind. That's where the magic lives.