Dreams: What DO they mean??
Whether you believe, as Sigmund Freud did, that “the interpretation of dreams is the royal road to knowledge of the unconscious”, or that it is divine communication with humans – as many religious and spiritual believes declare – dreams ARE important for psychological health.
Various studies over the years have shown that people who bypass the usual steps of sleep, i.e. they don’t dream, exhibit emotional and psychological disturbances. For example, people recovering from alcohol dependency dream almost continuously, whereas they did not dream at all when drinking.
What Can Dreams Tell Us?
Dreams can tell us various things about ourselves, as they can fulfil various functions, including:
- The “smoke stack” – the emotional remains of the day – like the driver who cut you off or the argument with your spouse or colleague – are “burned off” and released.
- The “attention getter” – the innermost part of us – the unconscious part – sends a message to the conscious mind to focus our attention on a particular issue.
- The “prophet” – these are the dreams so “big” that they encompass world events – e.g. premonitions of disasters, wars, etc.
- The “problem solver” – not only can dreams help us identify what bedevils us, but also how to resolve the issue(s).
How Can I Better Understand my Dreams?
To understand your dreams, you first need to consider them important enough to examine more closely – instead of dismissing them, write them – or dance, paint or sing them. How you honour and remember your dreams isn’t important – the fact that you do is all important!
Don’t worry if you forget details – the bits you remember are the ones with the strongest emotional “charge” – and contain what you need to know/understand. Look at each element in turn – what thoughts or feelings come up? Where in your body do you feel something? It’s in following the emotions that you will come to the truth of your dream – and your true feelings. You’ll know when you’ve made the “right” interpretation; you’ll have an “aha!” moment when everything just clicks.
The seemingly “mad” images and wild scenarios in dreams is due to the nature of the part of the brain that produces dreams – it’s the oldest and most “primitive” part of the brain that stores memory as images. Only you can interpret what exactly those images mean to you in the context of your life.
So the next time you say to someone, “I had a really odd dream last night,” don’t dismiss the dream; stop and think – what is my dream trying to tell me?