Dear Dream Tending and Deep Imagination Community,

The phrase “Mental Health” can be frightening with automatic thoughts that there is something wrong with me! Fortunately, a great deal of work is being done to demystify the taboos of Mental Health. I like to think in terms of balance. When my head and the heart are not in agreement this will create a mental emotional imbalance, or simply a mental emotional disagreement. When in a relationship this can prove to be a challenge.

By the time most couples have entered a therapeutic setting there has already been a collision, a disagreement where both have contradictory ideas which stand in opposition to one another. The conflict creates the stress, not always pulling apart creating tension, but sometimes pushing together creating friction. Having witnessed tension and friction in the couples I work with, I have found this often has its origins in unspoken expectations.

“Heaven lies at the bottom of patience.”

African Proverb

When witnessing conflict with couples the therapeutic conversation initiates around the unspoken expectations. The exercise involves:

  1. Make an unfiltered list of your expectations for your partner and their role in this relationship.
  2. Which expectations can be met.
  3. Which expectations can be negotiated or compromised?
  4. What expectations cannot be met by our partner?
  5. What are the expectations that cannot be met, however can be held.

Step 5 is where we learn to work with the expectation as a living image. Dream Tending offers techniques for working with the living image: Association, Amplification and Animation of the image. I also suggest understanding the exercise of Hosting the image.

Although our expectations for our partners may not be images from our dreams, they are images from our imagination. Images of our imagination are as true as images of our conscious reality. This is the reason it is so difficult for us to let go of our expectations. The expectations are true living images. A relationship with these images can be established through this Dream Tending exercise.

When we meet our partners in honest conversation about our expectations and come to the realization that there are some expectations that our partners cannot meet. We realize some of our expectations can be held within ourselves. We give ourselves the permission and opportunity to come into greater agreement with our own mind and emotions. We give ourselves the permission and opportunity to come into balance. When we reduce the relational conflict, minimize the relational stress, we improve our Mental Health!

Until Next Time,

Andre McCray, MA, MFT

Inside The Curious Mind

A quote that resonated with me this week…

“If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside cannot harm us.”

– African Proverb

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Stephen Aizenstat

Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., is the founder of Dream Tending, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and the Academy of Imaginal Arts and Sciences. He is a world-renowned professor of depth psychology, an imagination specialist, and an innovator. He has served as an organizational consultant to major companies and institutions, and as a depth psychological content advisor to Hollywood film makers. He has lectured extensively in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. He is affiliated with the Earth Charter International project through the United Nations, where he has spoken. Professor Aizenstat is the Chancellor Emeritus and Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has collaborated with many notable masters in the field including Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, Marion Woodman, and Robert Johnson.