The Passenger (Jungian Psychology in Everyday Life Series)

Are you a passenger, or a driver on the journey of your life? This is no small question. You have a unique, customized life-path to follow, and how you go about following this path matters. Not infrequently, dreams bring up the theme of transportation by car. In dreams, it is almost always better to be the driver of the car, and not the passenger.

A young man had a dream in which he was a passenger in a car. He dreamed:

I was watching basketball with others. Then I was a passenger in a car. The driver reached over and tried to strangle me for some reason.

This man had been struggling in his relationship with his girlfriend and he was having difficulties finding his own way. His dream rightly shows him that he is acting ‘as if’ he is a passenger in his own life. The dream suggests that this mode of being is not working for him, in fact, in the dream he is “being strangled.” He needs to speak up more about his deeper feelings in the relationship. If the dream is enacted in such a way, he will be honoring the message of the dream, and will be more likely to resume the role of driver in his life and in his symbolic car.

This dream imagery of being a driver of the car is not about power and/or control. It is about not losing yourself (in or out of a significant relationship) and staying true to the guidance of your inner self.

Below is a dream from another young man who was about to begin graduate studies. In this very different dream compared to the above dream, he was the driver of his own car. He dreamed:

I am driving my 4 wheel-drive vehicle up a steep, rugged mountain, and it seemed to be handling the rough road ok.

During the course of the psychotherapy with this man, this dream was quite helpful to him. Working with this dream in relation to his upcoming challenge of graduate school, gave his self-confidence a boost and led to a decrease in anxiety. This dream appears to be suggesting that this 26 year-old man had the proper attitude related to the task ahead, and was in a good place psychologically to enter graduate studies.

Take a good look at your life right now. Examine your relationships, career path and your overall journey through life. Are you the driver of your symbolic car? Have you lost yourself on your journey? If you have dreams of cars, is the car that you are in the best fit for you at this phase in your life? If you have dreams in which you are a passenger in a car, ask yourself why this may be so.  Also, if you know the driver in your dream car, what is this person like in real life?

A central component of Jungian psychology and psychotherapy is that each person has his or her own unique path through life. This is reflected back to each of us through the guidance of the inner self, often suggested in night-time dreams. Are you a driver or a passenger of the symbolic car in your life? This distinction can make a very important difference in how much of your potential you can actualize. In the long run, it is not a good idea to be a passenger in your life and have a life full of regret.

 

© 2012, Dr. Jeff Howlin. All rights reserved.

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