Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

Understanding Your Dreams

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Dreams are a natural, normal part of the human sleep cycle. They aren’t prophecy, nor are they an unknowable phenomenon of a mystical world.

What they are, are rich, dynamic sources of information and creativity because unlike the daytime mind, the sleeping mind is wildly free from the limits of what is imaginable, plausible and – here’s the big one – acceptable. Paying attention to your dreams can provide rich insights into the issues that are playing on your mind. 

 Dreams are the brain’s way of working on important issues, problems or emotions that are leftover from when we’re awake. Because the sleeping mind isn’t constrained by rational thought processes (because this part of the brain is shut down when we sleep), dreams are rich in their potential to offer creative solutions or another slant on something we are dealing with.

The content of dreams is the information that we already have, just organized and sorted through a different, novel, creative way. This often gives rise to different, novel, creative solutions.

If there’s a particular issue you want to apply your sleeping, though very powerful, mind to, see here for a how-to on how to manipulate the content of your dreams (scientifically proven of course!).

Understanding The Dream

Given that you’re the writer, director, sometimes the star, and always the audience of your own dreams, the aspects of dreams are generally an aspect of some part of you or the your life.

Because dreams are fed by the dreamer’s circumstances, outlook, emotions, struggles, joys, the particular meaning of a dream will differ from dreamer to dreamer.

Let’s say, for example, that the dream is one of a birth. This doesn’t mean you’re about to have a baby (though if you’re nine months pregnant it’s not out of the question). Rather, it’s a non-literal, creative representation of something that your brain is working on, something associated with your real life. Is your brain trying to process emotion around an beginning? Of a job? A relationship? Perhaps even a letting go? A moving on? A fresh start?

Perhaps your dream is that you’re dying. That might be referring to a part of yourself or your life that you’re struggling to hold on to. Is there a part of yourself that’s been shut down lately? Is there something you’re worried about losing? Perhaps you’re moving on and there’s been a letting go or an ending of something. Do you need to let go? Do you need to pay more attention so something doesn’t slip away? 

What about the classic – that you’re naked in public. Provided that you’re undies are on when you walk out the door then again, the meaning isn’t a literal one. Think about it … Are you feeling exposed? Are you worried about making a fool of yourself? Are you anxious about something? Are you worried about a secret coming out? Are you carrying a secret that might come out?

Everybody dreams, but not everybody remembers their dreams. In trying to understand the significance of a dream, it doesn’t matter if the entire dream isn’t remembered. Pieces or fragments will do. Any remembered dream or part of a dream is still alive and is likely to contain information relevant to something ongoing. Think about it and you’ll figure it out.

Nightmares

Nightmares stem from an issue that is highly charged or is demanding attention. It’s like having somebody first whisper sweetly, ‘Excuse me, but if you’re able and if it’s not too much trouble, would you mind listening to me when you have a moment?’ and you don’t listen, so they throw something at you that is, of course, soft and unlikely to cause concussion – let’s say, beach balls – and say, ‘Seriously, we’ve gotta talk sometime,’ and you still don’t listen so that throw themselves at your feet and scream at you in capital letters, ‘PAY ATTENTION DAMMIT!’ and with more exclamation marks than is reasonable for one person in one day. You get the idea.

For practical info on dealing with nightmares, have a look here.

Recurring Dreams

The meaning or significance of a dream won’t always be obvious straight away. If the issue the dream relates to is an important and ongoing one, the dream will recur until the issue is resolved. 

Through dreams, emotionally charged experiences can be replayed and processed. Each the time the dream is repeated, the detail contained in the dream may change, reflecting the parts of the issue that have been dealt with or worked through.

And Finally …

The symbolism in dreams is just the creative way the brain has organized the information.

If you are able to move through the emotion of a dream and look behind the symbolism, there will so often be rich insights waiting. Similarly, if you can harness the messages in your dream (that have come from your sleeping self) before they fall back into your unconscious mind, you’ll be surprised with what you’ll discover. 

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5 Comments

Marie

I had a reoccurring dream as a child for years. I would be walking down my street and get to this one part of the path and it used to start to cave in. I would be running to get away from and out of the hole. I would then wake up from the dream in a sweat. It never really stopped just got less. A few people new about the dream. Some years later after leaving home my then fiancé (policeman) rang me and said, “that dream you used to have about the ground swallowing you up, well I am standing across the road where the ground has fallen away into a big hole. Apparently a water main had been leaking for many years and finally made a hole. How mad is that!!!

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heysigmund

Wow! I have no words. That literally sent a shiver through me. Dreams are no end of amazing. I love this. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it. (I’m not going to be able to stop thinking about it now!)

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savannah

I’ve had a recurring dream after a few months of dating my boyfriend. In the dreams he cheats on me with this girl he dated a while back or he flirts with other girls in front of me and treats me terribly but hes the exact opposite of everything that happens in my dreams. I used to have a recurring nightmare of being murdered until this dream started amd now its the only dream ive had for the past 5 months. Could this dream be caused by my anxiety?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

It’s important to remember that dreams aren’t predictions. They are the brains way of sorting through emotional ‘stuff’. If there are anxious feelings in you, or any sort of negative, confusing feelings, it makes sense that those feelings will come out in your dreams while you are sleeping. If you believe you do have anxiety, it’s worth trying to calm this down as a way to bring a more peaceful sleep. There are plenty of articles on this link that talk about ways to deal with anxiety https://www.heysigmund.com/category/being-human/anxiety/. Mindfulness and exercise are the big ones. Even if you don’t have anxiety, mindfulness and exercise are both great for mental health. Give them a go. I hope they are able to help you find calmer nights soon.

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Nicole

I’ve heard before that everyone dreams we just don’t remember all of them. However I haven’t had or don’t remember any dreams since I was a teenager. I’m 36 now and been researching this new awakened,conscious spiritual path that has seemed to take front stage in the world and it continues to mention dreams to mold your life. If I’m not dreaming or if I never remember any of my dreams how am I supposed to use it to my advantage? Is there some type of way for me to actually remember my dreams and if I’m not dreaming why?

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Hey Warrior - A book about anxiety in children.