Who Defines Your Reality?
Very early one morning, I dreamed I was at a coffee shop at a very busy university. I was carrying a lot of things; my books, a large rolled up towel, a washcloth, and now also my coffee. As I walked along the sidewalk among the jostling students, I dropped my towel. Someone scooped it up as he walked by me and sort of tossed it back onto my pile I was carrying. I fumbled with it but it fell again. This time, someone from my past came up from behind me. He was an old friend of my former in-laws. He said, “I got it,” and picked up the towel and started walking with me. As we exchanged pleasantries we reached the steps of a building. I paused to rest and rebalance my load on a ledge and he started up the stairs, and then turned to me at the top.
“Can I ask you a question?” he said.
“Sure,” I answered.
“Did you know what you were doing, or was everything just an accident?”
I hesitated, not really knowing exactly what he was talking about. It probably would be safe to assume he was asking about my leaving the marriage, and that he would have spoken to my in-laws or my former husband. But what part of all that? At that point it had been over two arduous years in process, or was he talking about the twenty years before that? In any case, I wouldn’t say I really knew what I was doing, aside from trying to listen to my heart and my spirit. But I didn’t believe in accidents either. So I went for an answer that would open the door and invite the conversation.
“Well, I was trying to do my best,” I said.
He threw the towel back at me in disgust. “Humph. I knew it.” He turned on his heel to walk away.
“Wait,” I protested. “You don’t know the story. You have no information.”
“I know everything I need to know,” he said. And with one last contemptuous look, he was gone.
I stood there, momentarily stunned. Here was someone I hadn’t seen in probably ten years. When I did see him regularly, we had a good rapport. He was highly intelligent, extremely logical, and of course, very confident in his opinions. There was no persuading him otherwise once he made up his mind about something. Obviously he had heard something. Whatever his source was, or what he had been told, he had decided to make his judgment. He wasn’t interested in being balanced, in knowing the “truth,” or even hearing another side of the story. Heck, I didn’t even know what story he had asked me about. But somehow, in his head, just by dropping a towel and carrying a cup of coffee, I had confirmed everything that he “knew” and fallen far short of the mark. Evidently, though I was obviously a major player in the story, what I actually had to say about didn’t matter. He had decided who I am, and my worth, based on whatever version of the “truth” he had constructed in his mind.
I folded my towel and placed it back on my stack. Carefully I picked up my load and my coffee, and continued on my way without a backward glance.
I noticed several things once I awakened and started thinking about this dream. The first was my feeling and my mood upon awakening. In the past, this story would have upset me quite a bit. I would felt rejected and misunderstood, and carried those feelings into my day. I would have spun into depression. But instead here I was, feeling quite neutral, and actually very curious about examining this dream and what it meant.
The stage for the dream was set the night before with my bedtime intentions. That day I had sat down at my computer to write, and drawn a blank, which I proceeded to fill with other activities like checking email and social media. Not exactly what I needed to do to work toward my goals. So, when I went to bed I set my intentions and asked Spirit for inspiration and illumination on a topic for my morning writing session. I dreamed vividly all night, and the clarity and detail of this one really stood out as where I should put my attention. The next element to look at was my reaction upon awakening. Dreams can be an important source of information. I have always paid attention to my dreams, even when all I could recall was a snippet, or sometimes just an emotion it elicited. In this dream, someone I had respected, who I know talks to a lot of people, had obviously drawn an erroneous conclusion based on whatever second or third-hand information he had received. The fact that it was someone who I wasn’t really close to was interesting, as he represented the larger world outside my circle of friends. I would have worried about what he was thinking, what others must be saying, and my resulting “reputation” among a large unspecified group of people who would accept his conclusions. I would never even know who I needed to defend myself to and correct their perceptions.
The difference this morning was that I looked at this scenario and held the reality separately. I didn’t jump into the dreamtime and then carry it across into daytime. My previous habit of accepting the fantasy, even one of my own making, as if it were fact, did not occur. I was able to define, and remember, what my current reality actually is, and work from that place. In doing so, I could derive the lesson and the value of the dream.
Sometimes we are caught up in the story itself that is unfolding in our lives at that moment, and forget to check in about which, or whose, definition of reality we are working from. In particular, if we are in a place of doubt about a situation, we are quick to jump at the “confirmation” of our fears and accept that as our reality. We let a situation or someone else define for us the definition of that reality. However, what we need to do is to hold strongly within ourselves our own definitions of reality and truth. You are the expert within your own life. Other people very often think they know best, they’ve heard all they need to hear, and they go ahead and draw the conclusion they want. The conclusion they are drawing is one that supports what they need in order to feel right, to feel justified, to feed whatever need they may have for power, superiority, safety, or even to just feel better about themselves. It has little or nothing to do with the actual truth of the situation.
Knowing your own truth brings freedom. You are the one that creates and defines what your reality is. No one else can do that for you, unless you allow it. Everyone carries their own version of the truth, and if someone wants you to buy into their version, that’s their issue, not yours. You know what’s real.
Knowing your own truth brings steadfastness. You don’t need to convince everyone around you. Someone else’s opinion of you is really not your business. Other people don’t get to define you. Their opinions don’t matter, because they don’t get to change you. Only you do. This bears repeating. Other people’s opinions do not define you. When you know who you are, what you stand for, and what’s real, you too can pick up your rebalanced load and your coffee, and continue on your way.