I had a dream the other night. Not like a Martin Luther King, Jr. dream. I’m not that great of a person….yet.

The dream was a recurring one. There are three recurring dreams I regularly have.

  1. I’m in a fistfight with someone. And it’s not a simple fight. I’m beating the living crap out of someone, and I don’t stop.
  2. I’m in a commercial plane, and the pilot decides it’s a good idea to a) do a barrel roll or loop in this giant commercial jet or b) fly really low over the highway, like dangerously low, so he’s almost hitting the cars and buildings.
  3. I’m underwater, like a tidal wave or flood. I’m not drowning, but I’m certainly struggling to stay afloat.

This particular dream started as number 2. I’m in a commercial jet flying from New Orleans to Las Vegas like I always do. My son, Justin, is next to me, and I’m wearing my noise-canceling headphones, drowning out the people around me with music. The pilot, in his infinite pilot wisdom, decides he wants to do a loop. I look at Justin, he looks at me, and the rest of the passengers are shocked at what’s happening. I remember saying to Justin, “Oh shit! I dream about this all the time, and now it’s really happening!” That’s how vivid this moment was for me. Let’s call this Dream 2a.

After this massive stunt, we nose-dive toward the earth (duh!). The pilot, in his normal pilot voice, comes across the PA to announce, “Blah blah blah, mumble mumble mumble, something no one can understand.” I ask everyone around me what the hell he just said, and everyone is shrugging and shaking their heads. Confusion abounds.

Miraculously, the pilot is able to pull the plane up before smashing us into the ground, and levels out at a comfortable 10 feet off the deck, swerving in and out of cars and trucks along the highway like the typical BMW driver. Hey! It’s a dream, ok. I don’t make the rules. I just report them—dream 2b.

We pass along a bridge, and I notice the water is rising enough to splash over the bridge and cover the surface. A flood is coming, and I want no part of it. If you’re following along, this is Dream 3.

For the complete trifecta, I could tell you that I fought the pilot to get the hell off the plane. As satisfying as that would have been, that didn’t happen. As with any other dream, I found myself immediately in the backwoods of some random place, contemplating ants on a tree. As I said in the beginning, I’m no MLK, Jr.

I’ve had the water dream enough that I decided to do the extensive research of any great modern-day scientist. I Fucking Googled It (FGI). Basically, every dream analysis says when you feel overwhelmed, “underwater,” so to speak, you may have dreams of being “underwater.” Makes sense. No real stretch there, Mr. Dream Interpreter.

After this particular dream, I found the combination of the two fascinating. Since I’m now a Dream Expert (I did the FGI thing, remember), I analyzed it myself.

Being on an airplane represents my greatest fear of giving up control. I like control. I’m a take-charge kind of person. I might waiver on Mexican or Sushi for dinner, but I own a business because I don’t want someone telling me what to do with my time and money. But, when business is slow because of a crazy economy or a worldwide pandemic, and everything you try to do to fix it doesn’t appear to work instantaneously, you feel out of control. Top that off with a splash (pun intended) of overwhelming expectations and VIOLA! You have your case of whacky, multilayered, anxiety-driven dreams.

So, now you’re supposed to say, “Great, Mr. I-Googled-Dream-Interpretations-And-Now-I’m-An-Expert! Now what?” I GTS’d that, too (you figure that one out), and here’s what I found. What could you do if you were in a plane that was out of control? Besides screaming uncontrollably, you could take AS MUCH CONTROL AS POSSIBLE in that situation. Buckle your seat belt, hold the hand of your loved one and tell them how much they mean to you, put your head between your legs, and pray the pilot is the next Tammie Jo Shults (you Google that, I’m done helping).

It’s the same thing in life. If you feel out of control and overwhelmed, control what you can. Workout daily, take control of your eating, make your bed, and read a self-improvement book. Do those things daily to gain some confidence and self-control. It may not solve all your problems, but it certainly won’t add to them. And gaining control in the simple areas of your life will give you the skills and confidence to tackle more significant problems. They may take longer to solve, but they aren’t unsolvable.

When feeling overwhelmed, I like to write in my journal or blog (like here) to gather my thoughts. I’ve also created what Tim Ferris calls a Fear Setting list. It’s a list of “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” or “What’s your biggest fear?” By creating the list, you identify what you fear the most and write down the worst things that would happen if that fear became a reality. By defining those moments, you can a) see that most of your problems are in your mind and likely won’t come true, and b) if they do come true, how do you solve them? It’s a highly effective way to overcome fears when the tidal wave of anxiety hits you.

In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that. Maybe my next dream will be more profound, like solving world hunger or inventing an electric car that sounds like a ’68 GTO. Now THAT’S a dream worth having.