I’d like to share an interesting recurring dream I had many years ago that taught me the value of embracing shadow rather than rejecting it.
At the time I would regularly see a dream where someone transforms into the Incredible Hulk and then proceeds to chase me. In those dreams I am not lucid, but I am aware enough to start running and then fly away to escape from him. He was always faster than me and just before he would capture me, I would pull myself out of the dream and wake up. I would usually find myself drenched in sweat, heart beating rapidly in anxiety, and feeling intense fear.
It started to bother me that I kept dreaming of the angry Hulk at least once a week. Sounds funny when I am typing about it now, but imagine the Hulk with the strength of a thousand men roaring at you right in your face!
I got my big boy pants on one day and thought to make a self-suggestion over the next few nights before going to sleep, “to become lucid when I see the Hulk”. I was determined to work through this dream.
Then the dream revisited me.
I was a camera man on a film set (interesting symbolism about me being an observer). We were just finishing shooting a scene and Gary Oldman was the main lead role in that movie.
Gary looked unwell and had a feverish sweat. Suddenly he transformed into the Incredible Hulk. The big green monster growled and then attacked everyone on the set. I stood there watching while he beat and killed everyone around him in a fit of rage and then turned around, looked at me and came heading my way.
Obviously just like before, I started running! As I was running, I remembered my suggestion and noticed that the Hulk doesn’t really exist in waking reality. This sparked my lucidity.
As I became more lucid, the Hulk grew in size until he became a giant King Kong sized Hulk! The amount of fear grew inside me exponentially. At the time I did not have enough skills or knowledge to deal with this magnitude of shadow. So, I decided to do the most logical thing and kept running! So the chase began . . . again.
As I was flying, I looked back to see the Hulk destroying entire buildings, crushing cars and gaining speed, really determined to catch me. I started teleporting in a zigzag around the dream space as I was flying away but he was scary-fast. That made me stay ahead of him just by a little but still I could feel my impending doom.
I did a quick turn to the right and dived down attempting to hide in a small alley hoping the Hulk wouldn't find me.
Collecting my thoughts I started forming a request in my mind for help from the awareness behind the dream when suddenly a beautiful red haired woman appeared in front of me wearing glasses and a purple dress. I immediately knew she was some sort of witch. She instantly cast a spell that bound me with green energy ropes. She then called to the Hulk, "Come here I got him!".
You can imagine how fear stricken I was at that moment!
The Hulk appeared in the alley way, let out a huge demonic roar, and grinned in satisfaction. This was the height of my fear. The woman telepathically suggested, “Why do you keep running away? He just wants to talk to you”.
This completely took me by surprise - a shadow character wants to talk!? This never occurred to me before. Little did I know that this dream would mark a big milestone for me in learning to speak to my shadow characters and not just run away from them.
I faced the Hulk with fear and trepidation and asked, "What do you want?"
Hulk answered in his thick burly voice, "I can't stand being in XX*. Get me out of theeeerrrrrreeeeee!"
This totally took me by surprise and I woke up immediately. It was between 4 - 5 am. I definitely couldn't go back to sleep now.
XX* was the name of the company that I was working for. I had a growing frustration for 4 years working there, especially that my boss had unfairly appraised me for a couple of years in a row so I did not get a pay rise. I needed the money at the time as I was paying back my student loans.
Besides helping with my loans, maintaining a job for 5 years in a row straight out of college would help me get exempted from my mandatory Military Service. Also during the whole year in the Service, I wouldn’t be earning an income and paying back my loan installments. It would mean that I’d end up piling a good amount of interest with the bank. Something I really did not want. So, I held onto this job with hand, nail, and tooth despite being unhappy.
I guess living with the frustration for so long created the repressed anger - 'the Hulk'. It was really nice to see a face to the anger and understand why it was there.
I knew it was no longer healthy for me to continue with this job. I promised the Hulk that morning when I woke up that I would rectify the situation and get 'us' out of there.
A few days later I quit my job and prepared myself to finally face Military Service and the resulting increase in my debt. Thankfully with that, the Hulk stopped appearing again in my dreams.
Just to complete the story. I had only a one month grace period to find another job before Military. This was a very short time to find a job offer, go through any company's recruitment cycle and get the necessary paper work done, so I did not bother trying.
At the 11th hour before giving myself up to the Military I got a call completely out of the blue. A company needed a project manager with my skills to start 'immediately' in another country! I accepted on the spot. Thankfully, the salary was double the previous company’s and I had more space to make my own decisions.
Of course, since this involved travel it was easy to arrange the paperwork for postponing Military Service and no extra interest would pile up on my loans!
Facing my fears did pay off quite well it seems.
Since that incident, whenever I repress frustration or anger, the ‘Hulk’ revisits me in my dreams so I immediately know what's going on and I rectify whatever is needed in waking life, and then he lies dormant.
It was interesting that even when lucid, I was still running away from my shadow. It’s absolutely normal to want to escape from a scary figure that’s chasing you, no shame in that. I admire how effectively it used fear to grab my attention in the dream state. It certainly helped in my dream recall during all those weeks. The Hulk kept repeating his attempts to communicate with me over and over until I finally decided to become lucid and find out what is wrong. Only when I asked him what he wanted (with help from the witch) did I actually find out what my subconscious was upset about.
I urge all dreamers that the next time they face a shadowy figure in a dream to summon the courage to face it and simply ask, “What do you want?” Then listen to what that figure has to say. There seems to be a great reward in acknowledging our fears in a lucid dream. It just might save us a lot of unnecessary grief in waking life.
*name of company changed to XX for privacy reasons
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