Reclaiming Lost Dreams

As I write this I’m looking out over the San Andreas mountain range and Palm Desert.  The contrast between the arid wasteland and the rich fertile vegetation symbolizes the power of reclamation. What we nurture grows. 

It’s no wonder the topic of lost dreams and recovery go hand in hand. Reclaiming lost dreams can trigger a myriad of emotions similar to grief - sadness, loss, failure, anger and resentment. It’s human nature to avoid pain, numb out or allow our dreams to disintegrate into dust swept under a carpet.  Problem is, lost dreams tend to resurface and trip us up again and again. For many of us, family gatherings, births, graduations, marriages, news of a new home, vacation, retirement and other happy events can trigger painful memories.

Reality is some dreams we achieve and others never had the fertile ground needed to flourish. Holding on to melancholy for lost dreams or resentment over events that circumvented our dreams keeps us stuck in the past. 

The Robber of Time is the Past and the Future” Florence Scovel Shinn

Like most good things in life, reclaiming lost dreams takes time, effort and continuous cultivation.  Begin the process using incremental steps and being kind, gentle and nurturing to yourself along the way.   Here are some suggestions:

  1. Acknowledge Feelings - when an event triggers a lost dream a myriad of emotional pain can surface.  When this happens, recognize the feeling and be compassionate towards yourself.  Recognizing and welcoming feelings brings awareness and opens us to the process of healing.  A UCLA study shows when we name a feeling that arises like “Oh, anger,”, Oh, sadness”, we create the opportunity to rewire our brain for positive change.  

  2. Acceptance & Forgiveness- The truth is, we can’t turn the clock back and change events in our lives.  Release toxic blame and emotions by practicing forgiveness - this includes you too.   You may want to check out a free tool/worksheet offered by Colin Tipping for releasing anger and resentment called  “Radical Acceptance”.

  3. Gratitude and Appreciation - Joyful people are thankful for what they have and make the best out of almost any situation.  Feeling, journaling or expressing what we are grateful and appreciative of builds joy and resilience.  Consider a daily affirmation, meditation or prayer or other practice that invites gratitude and appreciation in your life for the dreams you have accomplished and ones ahead.

  4. Explore Possibilities - Try asking yourself  “Is what I am doing now aligned with my dreams?”  If it isn’t what steps can you take to identify and move towards your dreams. Often feelings of past failure and our fear of success can stop us in our tracks.  Find support and resources to help you navigate towards your dreams.    

  5. Redesign your Dreams - How do you envision your dreams?  What tools and resources will you use to express your dreams - on paper, written, drawn, coloured, spoken?  Who will you share your dreams with? Who will support you? Be specific, realistic and set timeframes that are achievable for you to successfully recreate your dreams.  Remember, when we do nothing, nothing happens. Start now.

  6. Celebrate your accomplishments! - Remember to pause. To take time to reflect on the dreams you have accomplished.    

The process of reclaiming your dreams takes effort, time and commitment. Reflecting upon and defining what’s most important to you at this time in your life and creating an achievable plan supported by others will help you to get there.  Go ahead, it’s OK to dream.