As a psychotherapist, I meet so many people everyday who have lost their dreams. They look and feel sad. When I interview them I find out they have no goals, no passions and no dreams. They do not live, they just exist. The more I get to know them and hear their stories, the more I realize that they had dreams as children and as teenagers. They wanted to become scientists and artists, poets and philosophers, musicians and athletes, teachers and professors, reformers and revolutionaries but they did not find parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers and principals, neighbors and ministers, who believed in their dreams. They did not find good role models and became involved in the struggles and responsibilities of day to day life. Sadly, they lost their dreams on the way. They work hard just to pay for the basics. They work too much and play too little.

Many people come to see us as they have heard of the Green Zone Philosophy. They want help to get over their sadness and lead a happy, healthy and peaceful life that we call Green Zone Living. After introducing them to Green Zone Therapy, I share with them that according to Green Zone Philosophy, there are three parts to the personality:

  1. Natural Self
  2. Conditioned Self
  3. Creative Self

The Natural Self is that part of their personality that they were born with. That was the gift life had offered them. As they grew older the Natural Self turned into the Conditioned Self and the Creative Self. The Conditioned Self is the outcome of social, religious and cultural conditioning. It is guided by what they should do, must do and have to do. The other part is the Creative Self. It is developed when people do what they like to do, want to do and love to do. People who have emotional problems often experience a conflict between their Conditioned and Creative Self. They feel conflicted between what they feel they should do and what they love to do. On the other hand, emotionally healthy people, find a unique balance between their Creative and Conditioned Self.

I share with my clients that when I lived in the traditional, religious and conservative environment of Pakistan, I was not very happy because I did 80% what I thought I should do following my Conditioned Self and only 20% what I loved to do following my Creative Self. Such a situation made me unhappy.

Since I came to Canada I started following my Creative Self because of the liberal, secular and humanist values of Canada. Now I do 80% what I love to do following my Creative Self and only 20% what I think I should do following my Conditioned Self. Such a lifestyle makes me happy and creative.

Every person has to find his/her own unique balance between the Conditioned and Creative Self if they want to live a healthy, happy and peaceful lifestyle. Some of our patients are happy with a 50/50, some 60/40 and some 70/30 balance between their Creative and Conditioned Self.

We have met so many patients who suffer with anxiety and depression, anger and frustration because their Conditioned Self is overdeveloped and their Creative Self is underdeveloped. We help them nurture their Creative Self and find a new balance between the Creative and Conditioned Self.

We suggest that they should have a Green Zone Hour everyday in which they do what they love to do. Once people start doing what they love to do they nurture their Creative Self. They develop a hobby, which transforms into a passion and then into their dream and they become their own dream catchers.

I hope more and more people can become dream catchers and then transform their dreams into realities and create a peaceful world together.


Dr. Sohail

6 thoughts to “DREAM CATCHERS”

  1. Dear Dr. Sohail,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on an issue which all of us encounter at some stage in our lives. It is true that while we are children, we are given an impression that our lives will be spent pursuing the dreams we see. And I believe firmly that all children grow up with dreams which are somehow inspired by love for their surroundings.

    However, when one grows up, and finds the practical limitations of this world, it dawns on him how many obstacles are there in materializing those dreams. As Faiz Ahmed Faiz put it, (pardon my poor translation):

    When we put our boat in the stream of grief,
    How strong were our arms,
    And how red was our blood,
    It seemed as if a few powerful blows,
    And we will reach ashore,

    But it didn’t happen like this because,
    Every wave contained unseen swirls,
    Rowers were inexperienced,
    And the oars, untested….

    I feel that our soul has a journey and sometimes the world does not provide a set out path for this journey to be carried out. The world provides us with predetermined roles, doctors, lawyers, musicians, clerics, engineers. It gives us what has been possible in the past, a part of it may be what we need but its never complete. Most of us don’t realize this and give up because we do not believe that we have the ability to create our own path. We refuse to accept the world as a partner and insist it as being a parent. We refuse to grow up. We fail to accept that every soul is unique and requires its unique path, and that one may not exist.

    I wish everyone has the mind to realize this and courage to take their journey forward in a positive way. Thank you once again for touching on this extremely important topic.

    1. Dear Jahanzeb, Your translation of Faiz’s poem is incredible. I fully agree with you that all of us face unexpected hurdles and obstacles. That is why I am inspired by marathon runners and turtles who do not give up and finally touch the finish line. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
      Dr Sohail

  2. Dear Dr. Sohail I like the way you wrote about the people who become dream catchers and then transform their dreams. In my group therapy with the clients of drug and substance addiction I try to emphasize and encourage them to think about the dream which they have lost in their addiction. However most of them started using and abusing drug so early in their lives that they forgot what they wanted to be…Although in our social work practice we are not encouraged to share our personal experience, I still share how I am trying to work on my own dreams of childhood when I wanted to write for the newspaper. Everyday I motivate them to find out who they are? It also helps them to explore their creative self.
    The name of one of my books is “Let’s find some dreams”. Here I am talking about the dreams we lost, or the dreams we could not explore or discover but they were always there within us…Just a little trust and encouragement can bring the magic in our lives…

    1. Dear Gohar, Thank you for your honest comments. I am like you. I share my personal stories with my clients also. They find it very inspiring and useful. I am not like those classical analysts who do not share any personal information with their patients. If a patient asks,
      How old are you doctor? or Are you married?
      They respond, “Why did you ask this question?”
      I believe our dreams are special for us. It is true not only for individuals but also for families and communities. When dreams die, communities start to disintegrate too. So i believe we need to encourage people to dream and then try their best to make them realities. Stay in touch.
      Peacefully, Dr Sohail
      ps…I am on holidays so using Bette Davis computer

  3. In the Ojibwa culture – Dreamcatchers were made from natural materials with a fine web woven in the center of the catcher and hung over a babies cradle in order to ‘catch’ the bad dreams within the webs – thus allowing the ‘good dreams’ to pass through the surrounding holes in the web. It is believed that come the daylight the bad dreams are burned off the webs by the sunshine – leaving a fresh renewed web. It’s a wonderful legend and belief. If only we all had dreamcatchers over our cradles at birth and into childhood. Unfortunately our surroundings, caretakers, circumstances can dictate an altogether different environment for us. I remember having a dream when I was a child that I came home one day and there were monsters in our apartment … my first thoughts were “Oh no! There are monsters here … where is MY family?” I paused and then picked up on the fact that these monsters seemed nice … there was an air of peace and love emanating from them. And I thought “This is better than my real family …. ” The monsters actually reminded me of Care Bears … kind of … I do believe that we can overcome negative impressions and move forward into a more fulfilling life – due largely to our own strengths, creativity, resolution and most importantly of all is having someone outside of us who believe in us … for affirmation. Our ‘Condition’ can adapt through sheer determination to choose our ‘Creative’ selves. It takes a concerted effort sometimes but it can be done. I believe that. May you all have your own Dreamcatchers to catch all that is frightening and negative. Always pondering ….

    1. Dear Georgina, Thank you for sharing the cultural background of Dream Catchers. I have bought so many Dream Catchers from Native Indian stores and given them to my friends as gifts. I had one in my last car also. I am glad you share my optimism that as adults we can overcome our childhood negative conditioning and with the help of our dear ones nurture our Creative Selves. I look forward to your comments. I am sure our other readers love reading your comments too. Your pondering is very meaningful and fruitful.
      Dr Sohail

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