Thursday, April 24, 2008

Christian Criticism Part 1 (Revised)

I was recently confronted by my own lack of skill when I am upset by something someone is doing. I have the tendency to share my criticism with others instead of the person with whom I am actually upset. I want to learn to handle my criticism more appropriately.

In a recent incident, I first thought I was in the right because my criticism was valid. I realized my own fault by working my dream:

My Cat Molly is Dying and I Need to Find Her

I am standing at the top looking down. There is a presentation going on on the floor below. I am at the top of the escalator. The chairs are set up on the floor below for a presentation. TC is there.

I have punished Molly for getting up on the table. I threw her off firmly and spoke harshly to her. Now I am worried. She did not feel her usual weight. She has lost a lot of weight. She is sick and going to die soon. I need to find her and take care of her. I try to find a towel to wrap her in. My father offers a towel, but it is used. It is still damp. I don’t want it. I see some towels in a Spa Display. I take two out for me and the other woman with me to use. My father disapproves of my messing with the hotel’s Spa Display.

I go to find Molly. I go down the levels. At the far end is the grotto area. I think I see a cat up on the top of the rock wall at the back. I scale the rock wall and can see the top ledge area. There are two cats but they are young and of a darker fur than Molly. I want to get down. The other woman is still with me. We find that we can climb on the very tall Tiki statue built into the rock wall, and it will bend sideways to reach the ground. When we get off, it snaps back up into the rock wall again. We do this one at a time.

I work a dream by looking at the associations I make with the images in the dream. In this dream, punishing the cat harshly referred to my criticism. Ironically, my criticism was that the woman was being too harsh in her own criticism, using ridicule and contempt.

Cats often represent women in dreams and in this case it is particularly appropriate as my concern was with "catty" behavior. I have a problem with my cats getting up on the breakfast table by a sunny window and also on my desk when the computer is warm. I do put them off harshly, hoping to discourage this behavior. When I clip my cat Molly's claws or give her medicine, I first wrap her in a towel to keep her still. So, my dream is telling the story of me trying to stop the woman's catty behavior using the metaphor of how I treat my cats.

Dreams that have what seem to be significant scene shifts with unrelated plots are often actually telling the same story over and over with different metaphors. A three act dream is classic, telling the same story three times, with each succeeding version elaborating and developing the problem. As I worked this dream, I realized that my old friend TC, my father and the Tiki God were all images of the same person. I used to think of TC as "Top Cat" and he was my superior in a work situation. So the first two images were of a male superior, while the third was of a stone idol. I realized that I "idolize" someone who I view as a male superior.

I resisted acknowledging the idol worship aspect of the dream for a while, but when I confronted it, I then asked myself "why do I idolize this man?" I remembered it was because of the way he had handled a situation in the past. He had used the procedure in Matthew 18: 15-17:

15 "If your brother sins against you,[a] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

So, I realized that the dream was telling me that my area of growth was to focus on my own fault rather than my original focus on the fault of the woman represented by Molly cat.

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