What Your Dreams Are Really Trying To Tell You
Dreams can include important narratives for the dreamer about unresolved issues in their life.
Have you ever had a period of time where you found yourself experiencing the same dream over and over again? If you have, then it’s likely you have also wondered why that is. Every single one of us has a subconscious, which despite being an unaware part of the mind, inadvertently influences our actions and/or feelings. Oftentimes, our subconscious ends up being the author of our dreams — or the activity that takes place in the mind while the body is asleep.
For example, some anxiety-based dreams will repeat tasks that have gone unfinished in the dreamer’s waking life. For me, it might be the unfinished laundry, an incomplete grocery list, and a boat-load of emails I have yet to respond to. Oftentimes, these kinds of dreams will continue until the task has been completed. Should the task be one that requires regular effort, then the dream could still continue until a routine is established. Other times, these are referred to as ‘daily residue’ by dream researchers.
“According to Freud’s theory of dreams, day’s residues are memory traces left by the events and psychic processes of the waking state; they are used as raw material by the dream-work that serves the wishes of the dreamer.”
Although it is tempting to think of these ‘daily residue’ dreams as being unimportant, there is a process of decompression that is necessary. Dreams are sometimes our mind’s only way of getting clear about what needs to be done the next day, what is important, and how to process the events of the previous day.
If you are a person who has experienced trauma that has left you with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), then it is possible that recurring nightmares occur as a way of subconscious reiteration. A nightmare can provide us with an opportunity for acknowledgement of the event and can motivate us to seek other means of support in order to work through the trauma. Despite dreams being written by a mind that seems inactive at times, the stories created can oftentimes feel dis-empowering.
Take for example a woman who is raped while at a party. Regardless of her perpetrator’s fate, she is left with the emotional impact this kind of experience leaves behind. For days, weeks, and potentially months — she might experience the same ‘dream’ over and over again. For some, this dream might be a deliberate recall of the events and; therefore, serve as more of a reminiscent nightmare at this point. Either outcome will likely alter that person’s perception of their own existence until they have found a way of processing the emotional, mental, and physical impact.
Take another example — a military personnel who returns from overseas with visuals he or she can never un-see. Despite their effort of moving forward, each dark room, loud noise, and surprise shoulder brush, sends their subconscious into a whirlwind of flashbacks. These flashbacks bind together to form a dream that resonates with their most trying emotions and distressing thoughts. Until the feelings are addressed and worked through in the person’s waking life, their subconscious will not rest and; therefore, neither will their mind.
While there are some dreams that we can quickly put reason to, there are many others we experience that leave us without a single guess:
Lauri Loewenberg has referred to this dream as a “red flag from your subconscious.” Loewenberg believes this dream is most common in people who are having a major life problem with work, relationships, or elsewhere.
“Dreaming of falling is very common. It is a symbol of fear in real life — perhaps of failing at work or in your love life,” says Russell Grant, author of The Illustrated Dream Dictionary. It also might suggest that something in your life may need to change courses soon.
Teeth Falling Out
Dream Psychologist, Ian Wallace views teeth as a symbol of power and confidence. With that being said, this particular dream is believed to be a sign that something happened in the dreamer’s life that has caused him or her to lose confidence. A few examples of events that could have caused this feeling of lost confidence might be a person losing their job, a partner’s infidelity, or an unkind comment made by a peer. According to Russell Grant, author of The Illustrated Dream Dictionary, teeth are a bad omen and represent a broken relationship.
“If your teeth fall out, you lose personal power and your ability to be assertive, decisive, and self-protective.” ~Penny Peirce, author of Dream Dictionary for Dummies
Now not all dreams are nightmares, of course. Many of us have experienced quite the opposite of both categories and instead, have enjoyed our brain’s activity while asleep. Some of us dream of the positive events from the day or recollection of a nice memory. You might dream of your wedding day or the birth or your first child for weeks and this can make for a positive dream experience! On the flip side, your subconscious mind might be trying to push you into a direction that will be for your betterment, despite your awareness of it in your conscious mind.
Lauren Lawrence, who has a New York Daily News column on dream analysis, sees this dream as the subconscious wish to terminate something in life. This could be in reference to a relationship, a job, a career path, or even the past. Think about how many events of our life we hold on to longer than we should. It should be no surprise that this carries into even our sleeping mind. Many dream analysts encourage dreamers to not see this as a nightmare, but to instead use this as encouragement from your subconscious to pursue a fresh start on new endeavors.
Loewenberg also believes that dreaming about the death of someone specifically, for instance a loved one, can reflect a similar fear of change. Another fear reflected in this kind of dream could be of children reaching milestones and growing up. These types of changes that cause a wandering of the mind remind our subconscious of the inevitable passage of time.
Despite the way this dream might feel like a nightmare, Ian Wallace considers it to be a positive sign. He believes that this dream is intended to encourage the dreamer to finally face a problem or fear that has been hanging over his or her head. Loewenberg shares that she encounters this dream more often in women than men. So if you have this dream, a good starting point might be to consider the things you are running from in your life that you should instead, be running to.
Another perspective is that of Tony Crisp, author of Dream Dictionary. Crisp suggests that the key to understanding what this kind of dream might mean could depend on the identity of your pursuer. For example, being chased by an animal might indicate that you are hiding from your own anger, passions, and other feelings; however if your pursuer is unknown, it might represent a childhood experience or trauma. If you are being chased by someone of the opposite sex or someone familiar, Crisp suggests that it means you are afraid of love or being tormented by a past relationship.
Your Partner Cheating
Most would agree that this dream should not be taken as clairvoyance. According to Loewenberg, “The cheating dream happens when your mate is spending too much time and attention on something that does not involve you.” Similarly, Lawrence has noted that there can be a lack of trust present in a relationship where one partner begins to experience this dream. Should this dream become frequent, it might be time to address the real issues that your relationship is facing. Once these have been brought to the surface, you can then begin to navigate through.
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Dreams about flying can be both exciting and liberating but also quite frightening, especially for those of us who have a fear of heights (like myself). According to Crisp, dreams about flying often represent two very different sides — On the one hand, such dreams can represent feelings of freedom and independence, while on the other hand, they can also indicate a desire to flee or escape from the realities of life. If this type of dream becomes recurrent in your sleep, it is possible you are either enjoying the freedom of your waking life or feeling at a loss of control for the events of life.
“Flying alone occurs most frequently,” he writes, “showing the independent aspect of flying. But because it often involves positive feelings of pleasure, flying may depict our sexuality…especially aspects of it expressing freedom from social norms and restraints.”
While we can learn a great deal from life while we are awake, it might be time we begin looking to the things we can learn while asleep. While our conscious mind is important for us to navigate through life, it is our subconscious that has our innate best interest in mind.