Dreams Of Incompetence

Discussion in 'Dreams & Interpretations' started by Ken Anderson, Oct 21, 2015.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Incompetence or confusion is a common theme in my dreams. Usually centered around things that I have done for a living during my life, and sometimes a mixture of careers.

    Until I was in my thirties, I worked in factories, primarily paper bag plants, during which I worked for three different bag manufacturing companies. I was a machine adjuster and supervisor for the last six of seven of the twelve years that I worked in the paper bag industry. In real life, I was well aware that mechanical ability was not high among things that I could do well, but I came to know paper bag machines pretty well. Still, I did well mostly because I maintained the machines and didn't wait for something to break before making repairs. Once a machine became a wreck, I wasn't the best person they had to get it back in running condition again, but machines seldom crashed on my shift because I kept them clean and oiled, and I checked for things that might be going wrong before they went wrong.

    In my dreams however, I often find myself in a factory, but it's not usually a paper bag factory. People seem to know who I am, and appear to be glad to have me there, but I don't have a clue as to what I am supposed to be doing for a living. Instead, I wander around, chatting with people, and trying to figure out what my job is. Often, I don't even known which part of the plant I am supposed to be in, or I'm not completely sure that I work there, and I am afraid that someone will realize that I'm confused.

    I have also attended several colleges, and taught in a few. I was the program chairman for the emergency medical technology program at two colleges at the same time. Yet, in my dreams sometimes, I am living in the dorms at a college but I don't remember what classes I am supposed to be taking, what time they meet, or where they are held. Sometimes, in my dreams, I am not sure whether I had actually even attended one class. It's not that I'm lazy or that I don't want to attend classes, but I don't know how to do so, or how to find out which classes I am enrolled in.

    As a paramedic, I was quite proud of not only knowing knowing what to do in an emergency but knowing why that is the right thing to do, whereas some medics would simply memorize algorithms. I have taught at every level of EMS, and was certified as an instructor in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Basic Trauma Life Support (BTLS), Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS), and other courses that physicians and nurses had to certify in, and complete recertification courses.

    Yet sometimes in my dreams, I have been hired as a paramedic, but I don't feel capable of handling anything serious. In my dreams, I am very much afraid that someone will find out that I don't know what I'm doing, or that someone will die because I don't know how to save them. Sometimes in my dreams, my certification has expired, yet I am working as a paramedic despite the fact that I am not certified to work as a paramedic.

    In real life, surely there have been times when I have been faced with things that I couldn't do well, but I have usually rose to the top of whatever it was that I was doing, or at least to a level where I was able to make decisions for myself, since I've never been willing to stay in a job where I simply had to do what someone told me to do, whether it made any sense or not.

    In other words, in real life, I have not considered myself to be incompetent, but in my dreams, I often am.

    Last night, in my dream, I was taking some class that had something to do with emergency medicine. There were only a few people in the class yet something was said that made me realize that everyone else was on a different page than I was. People were reading from texts that I didn't have, and didn't know that I was supposed to have.

    I am always afraid to ask anyone when I am confused about something. Even in real life, I would much rather try to figure something out for myself than admit that I didn't already know it. In my dream, the class moved from the first classroom we were in to another area. I made an excuse to return to the original classroom, hoping that I would be able to find the texts that I was missing.

    A security guard came to say that the area was going to be closed for the day, and to be sure to lock up the room when I left. Since I didn't have a key, being a student rather than an instructor in that particular dream, I locked the doors from the inside, then went into another room that I thought would lead me to be able to rejoin the rest of the group. Instead, I found myself in what appeared to be someone's house, and they were all speaking Chinese. I think I woke up about then.
     
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  2. Jenn Windey

    Jenn Windey Active Member
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    @Ken Anderson This sounds like you have some anxiety. In fact it reminds me very much of a type of dream I have, which I have come to realize has to do with my own anxiety, but it manifests as a work related dream.

    Many years ago when I was a young woman I worked in a very busy downtown restaurant, there would be days that I would drive to the job and literally feel that sick knot of anxiety in my stomach. Later in life, long after I left that job I would have all sorts of crazy dreams about being back there and things would happen, like I could not find the tables, or I would forget how to place the order, or people would keep coming and I wouldn't be able to keep up. Although the setting is different between my dreams and yours, the underlining theme is the same... you are under stress about something, so much so you feel like a fraud perhaps.

    You do have a few examples in the dream you listed that might help you shed some light on what the core issue is. In your post you have talked extensively on the things that you have done in your life and the care you have taken in being on top of the things that you are responsible for. So much so you can teach a multi level instruction on things like emergency medicine. So lets take a look strictly at the symbols you have presented.

    Bag- these are the things we use to carry stuff, they can be made of many different things. You used to run a machine that made these, you were not a master machinist but you kept it running well enough. Slang terms for bag include- In the bag (as in drunk, or to achieve a goal like "it's in the bag") to bag something- which is to obtain sex or some other item , bag of chips, as in a nice side line or item or body bag, which is self explanatory. The fact you related this occupation to the dream makes the symbol matter, what was it about the time you worked this job? was there something else going on then that you were juggling? what else did you keep running for so long? What do you want (hope) to bag?

    Emergency medicine- these are the things that save lives and make people better, you state you know you have enough training to be a leader, yet in the dreams you are afraid your actions could cause a death and/or you do not know what you are doing. On one level you know this is not true, you have proof of it in real life, yet you feel it in the dream realm. Medicine is used to cure and to kill pain, perhaps at this time you are in a place where you just do not know how to make things better, you wish you had the medicine you need and you know you have the ability to take control in an emergency and probably are putting on that face in real life... yet deep inside you have some doubt and you just have no one to turn to because you feel like you can't.

    Class Room- these are the places where we learn stuff, yet you keep going back to the old area in hope of finding that "text" you just didn't get. In fact you never knew you needed it and it all feels so weird and foreign as if everyone is speaking Chinese. The guard tells you to lock it up, and you do on the inside, just to pass into another room. And again we have a key, this time you don't have it but you know you need it. This is a reoccurring symbol for you. There is something key you feel you are missing Yet you manage to lock the door from the inside.

    Rooms in the dream realm usually are a symbol of the facades of the self, these are the places we go to when we introvert into the self, the places where we have stored and segregated issues and experiences that we might not have been able to resolve in the real world. You went to a different "class room" which means you went to learn something else from the past. You did not state if there was anyone there, chances are you might have woke up then. If there were other people there meditate on that for an answer, if you just woke up then it means you have come to a new realization on something you experienced in the past. You are coming to terms with some aspect of your own experience of "self" - this might not be complete, if you dream along the same lines again you will have greater insight, when we reach full realization of something from deep within the subconscious it feels almost like a bubble pops and there is a sense of release. My gut feeling is that you are on the edge of release on something that you very much need to feel better about.
     
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  3. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Oh, a lot of things. I was a single parent, for one thing. For the last few years that I was with Champion Bag, I was the chief shop steward and vice president of our union local, as well as acting supervisor, so of course there was a lot of politics going on there, as well as the job. But I enjoyed that. People would complain that it was a conflict of interest for me to work as an acting supervisor and still hold a position in the union, yet they kept electing me, and the reason I turned down promotions to full supervisor was so that I could remain in the union. Then, I moved to Duro Bag Company, where I was one of only two people who spoke English as a first language.

    I think everyone in the medical profession has doubts. The general public expects an occasional error in whatever it is that they do for a living, yet they feel that they have the right to anticipate perfection when it comes to medical care, and that is something that none of us can provide. As a medic though, when you found yourself in a situation that approaches being overwhelming, the only way to handle it is to force yourself to appear calmer than you actually are, and if you can do that successfully, you find that you are calm and you appear to be in control of things. In whatever it is that we might do for a living, eventually we will make a mistake. In the medical professions, people can die because of these mistakes. The one time that I was most afraid of being sued for something that I had missed, and a patient died, although not necessarily because of anything that I had missed, I received a call from the patient's son the next afternoon. He wanted to thank me for the wonderful job that we had done, and for giving his father every possible chance. Paramedics don't have the luxury of lab tests, x-rays, medical records, or a bunch of other qualified people around to help. We sometimes have only a couple of minutes to figure out what's going on and to decide what to do, and then we have to accomplish most of that in the back of a moving ambulance, often as the only medical person in the back with the patient. But then, I enjoyed that too.

    As for my classroom dreams, I have a lot of them. Usually as a student, although I have spent more time teaching in a college than I have as a college student and, oddly enough, in most of my college dreams, I am living in a dormitory yet, in real life, I have only spent two semesters in a dormitory, and that was way back in 1970-71.
     
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  4. Jenn Windey

    Jenn Windey Active Member
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    So these past experiences are on your sub conscious mind now. Perhaps because something in the present day has triggered some of these feelings from then. In all these cases you are telling me that you have managed to climb to the top position wise, even if there was a lot of stress involved you were able to do it with a air of confidence and people liked what you did, they depended on your knowledge base to make calls without the use of fancy gadgets (like x-rays or knowledge of mechanics)

    To me it sounds like you are the type of guy that tries very hard to understand and excel at anything you put your work into, it is a goal and it is how you self affirm. There is something in your life right now, where you are perhaps not feeling so confident about but your remaining calm in the face of it, your feeling like if only you could find the key or that text, you would be able to figure it out. I guess the question would be then

    Are you aware of what it is you want to be on top of right at this point in life? if so take the time to systematically go thru the steps like you have in the past and I believe you will do well.

    On a side note, it is interesting the statement "people kept electing me" are you perhaps being suggested for a job or situation that you are considering or feel you need to prepare for? Are you feeling a sense of history repeating itself in some fashion from something you are doing or someone wants you to do?

    Here is another interesting thing to think about. I don't know how you feel about astrology, I do not know your star sign or birthdate yet I want to relate something that I read earlier in the year in relation to one of the eclipses. I was reading my own forecast and the one eclipse happened in a house that referred back to a similar timeframe (astrologically) as the 70's. I am thinking it had to do with a Pluto alignment during the summer eclipse. Now I can write a book on the significance of planets and houses, but suffice it to say that sometimes history has a tendency to repeat itself. It can be as if the lessons we did not learn at one point come back to try us in the future. we have all heard stories of people that go over and over the same grounds trying to make it different but finding the same situation time and again. The thought is this happens because some spiritual goal remains unmet. We have not learned a fundamental life lesson. Was there something you wanted to master in those school days that you haven't? is there anything related in these two career paths you have talked about that never seemed to resolve, but in fact kept happening over and over again that made you feel ill equipped to handle, yet kept getting thrust at you?
     
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  5. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Veteran Member
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    I like to think, that dreaming is a de-fragging process that takes place in our brains. All of the unspoken apprehensions and doubts, that remain unspoken, in our awake hours, tend to surface in our dreaming time. When we wake ourselves up, we are really saying "end program" on the Holodeck!
     
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  6. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Actually, it just annoys me to have people dumber than me telling me what to do.
     
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  7. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    I think we all (or at least most of us) have some regrets as we look back over our lives, and many also deal with at least some degree of anxiety. You've also suffered a loss recently, and perhaps are dealing with your wife's grief, as well as your own.

    I have less dreams of incompetence now than I have in the past, although I contribute far less to the world with respect to productivity these days than I once did.
     
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  8. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Veteran Member
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    It appears that incompetence has replaced cream, in it's ability to rise to the top!
     
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