I am writing this because of James Whale.
James Whale is a long time radio and TV presenter considered outspoken, opinionated, loud mouthed and sometimes a bit of a bully. He currently has a show on LBC in the UK. When I was a teenager, he had a TV show which was controversial and a bit crass. Until recently I’ve not listened to or even thought about James Whale for several decades.
James Whale is currently my inner guide.
Choose as your inner guide someone who disturbs you and pisses you off.
You see, I’ve been tracking my dreams again. I go through periods when I record, write down and creatively work with my dreams (more on that here). Life is richer and I feel more in touch with myself and my deeper journey when I do that. I recommend it. One practice I sometimes do is to ask for a dream before going to sleep. You can form an intention or a question, and stay relaxed and in touch with that as you fall asleep. You can also speak it out loud 3 times as you fall asleep.
The other night I asked for a dream that would clarify next steps with my work. I’d spent the day in a creative space imagining things I would love to focus on next. So this was a good question – important to me, and relevant to the day’s activities.
Around 5 in the morning I dreamt about a person who wanted to be like James Whale and do radio shows. This person was extremely angry and upset that they were not like James Whale. There were lots of other details which I won’t bore you with here.
The meaning was very clear to me. On the practical level I had been thinking that afternoon about doing more recording and podcasting and that sort of thing. So it was a good confirmation in that direction.
The deeper meaning, also clear, is that it is good for me to be more outspoken, more opinionated and, well, louder. And to not worry about what people think of me. To be, in short, much more like James Whale. I haven’t actually contacted James Whale and arranged for him to be my mentor. But he has now become an inner guide of sorts. An ‘Ally’ (as Arnold Mindell, drawing on indigenous shamanic traditions, would call it).
I never used to like James Whale. He irritated me. He was loud, right wing, crass, puffed up, confrontational, unapologetically blokey. All qualities, so my dream is telling me, that I need right now. James Whale pisses me off. So obviously, since I am paying attention, I am going to be more like him.
You are not who you think you are
The founder of Process Work Arnold Mindell encourages us to bring into our conscious selves, the parts of others that particularly provoke or disturb us. This is not a straightforward thing to do. It requires us to consider that whoever or whatever is bothering us, whatever we are really against, is actually expressing a part of us that is valuable but currently beyond our day to day identity.
He calls this day to day identity our Primary Process or our ‘U’. When we meet someone who really bugs us, rather than judge or blame them (well we will, but we don’t need to leave it at that), the invitation is to consider that they are expressing a part of our Secondary Process (or ‘X’). This is part of us, much needed right now, but something that we do not yet include as part of who we are. Therefore, we are against it. If I identify consciously with being a harmony loving, adaptable, generally polite, keep my weirdest opinions to myself for fear of upsetting people sort of fellow, a dream about wanting to be like James Whale shows me a complementary way of being that is going to be extremely useful.
I do not need to be like James Whale in a literal sense. I don’t need to look like him or dress like him or say the things he says (though I could). I need to sense the essential qualities he expresses in his way of being. Then I can bring those qualities into me and use them. This will bring something of great value and something necessary to this moment in my life.
The people who bug you are not coincidences
Another way of looking at it is to say that your dream figures are not coincidences. Nor are the people appearing in your life who particular bug and annoy you. They are parts of your wider psyche trying to make themselves known to you so you can consciously reintegrate them into your life.
So, that’s it. Choose as an inner guide someone that disturbs you, really pisses you off. James Whale might choose someone just like me. Maybe we could do a skill swap. Or mate’s rates?
The question is not really what I am going to do with James Whale.
The question is who are you meeting in your life (outer life or inner dream life) that is really pissing you off right now?
Can you sense the essence, the inner qualities being expressed by this person? Are they too loud, too quiet, too angry, too peaceful, too confident, too vulnerable, too stupid, too violent, too silly, too fast or too slow?
Can you use your irritation and your impulse to reject, as a gateway to discover new ways of being and new qualities to enrich your life?
Have fun. Transform the ones who bother you most into inner guides and figures of wisdom. They will bring new patterns and possibility to your life if you let them.
Oh, and do look out for my new radio show. I’ll be interviewing my new Spiritual Guru.
His name is Michael Gove*.
(*For those not in the UK, Michael Gove is a senior politician in the current government. I shall say no more.)