Anatomy of a Nightmare

The valuable lessons I learned by analysing a nightmareIt was one of those nights when you just can’t sleep properly. I had woken up at about one am, and then again at four am.

I really wanted my beauty sleep because I had important things to do during the day ahead. But I just could not get back to sleep.

On a whim, remembering my daily meditation practice, I gave myself permission to sleep for as long as my body needed the rest. it worked like a dream. I fell instantly into the arms of Hypnos the god of sleep.

And that was when the nightmare began. Well, no, it must have actually been some time later because the recollections were amazingly vivid when I awoke from the nightmare.

It’s like this; I run workshops to help people discover what they are passionate about. This enables them to build successful careers either as employees or by starting their own businesses.

The nightmare was set at one of my workshops. Actually I hope and pray that I never have a workshop quite like the one in my nightmare.

Everything was chaotic from the moment the delegates started to arrive. It seemed like it was a stormy day, and we were about to work in a large marquee. The delegates were all being buffeted around by the storm and I was sailing above them, using my whiteboard as my sail.

When we eventually got inside the delegates were very unruly. One man, who had been to the same workshop a month earlier, just would not stop talking. He’d gone from being a wimp to being super-arrogant, and now he wanted to tell everyone how great he was.

The other delegates became agitated and started talking amongst themselves. My tongue would not work, I felt powerless, unable to bring the situation under control.

Then a party started in the other part of the marquee. The music was so loud that no-one could hear themselves speak. I was paralysed. Not with fear, but with a feeling of inadequacy that made me feel like a soft jelly.

One lady, whom I knew to be super-efficient, took control. She marched us all out of the marquee and down a dusty slope to a grassy area under a tree. Miraculously the wind had abated. We sat down, cross-legged, in a circle on the dusty grass.

Soon the arrogant man started to dominate again. I went over to him and demanded that he depart from the group.

As I resumed my seat two ladies got up and walked out muttering darkly to one another. They were quickly followed by several other delegates who looked angry and disappointed. I could not find words to stop this from happening. Everything was falling apart and I was incapable of taking any action to stop it from happening. I seemed to be riveted to the ground. I shrank physically to the size of a garden gnome.

As despair overwhelmed me I woke up.

The lessons

By the time I had washed and was doing my morning exercises, I had regained control of my emotions. I knew that my upcoming workshop would not be anything like my nightmare.

So, why had the nightmare happened?

Partially I think it was a throwback to a fear of public speaking that had ruled my life during the early days of my corporate career. I have completely conquered that fear because I have complete confidence in the work I now do. This confidence is built on the success I have enjoyed helping others to improve their situations.

Later that morning, as I walked my dog along woodland paths carpeted with early winter leaves, I had a chance to analyse the nightmare.

Perhaps it was a wake-up call that I need more structure and discipline about the way I run my workshops. Not sure about this, because the feedback has been good.

Perhaps it was an expression of a need for more structure, organisation and control around what I do.

It may even have been my passion for helping other people discover their own passions expressing itself in a weird way.

I recognised long ago that I am motivated by having experienced massive improvements in my own life that occurred when I discovered my passion.

On reflection I think that my nightmare was so scary because it made me experience what it must be like to be incapable of helping people who had come to me for assistance.


During the 25 years that I have been a full time professional coach I have helped over a thousand people improve their lives. See what clients say about me.

What I can assure you of is that when you attend a Discover Your Passion 1-day workshop you will discover what you love to do and how to leverage that passion. And if you don’t discover your passion on the actual day I will go on working with you, at no extra cost, until you do discover your passion.


About David Ferrers

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