On life

The therapeutic nature of dreams

I have always been fascinated by dreams. Not just their meaning, but how they can make you feel. For me, dreaming can be immensely therapeutic and in this blog post I explain why.

I think I am one of the few people who actually enjoys nightmares. Just like I love scary movies – it’s escapism. I love feeling relieved when I wake up and realise it was all a dream. For me, it can really put a whole day into perspective. It’s like shock therapy: I wake up terrified and realize it wasn’t real. I feel so relieved and grateful for my life that I spend my day immensely happy. I can’t be the only one who feels this way right?

Why do we dream?

Why do people dream? There are a number of theories out there. Dreams are said to represent unfulfilled desires and wishes, just random brain signals, a way to process everything that’s been going on during the day and even therapeutic. This therapeutic aspect is especially interesting to me, because I often feel that dreaming helps me in some way. I feel like in my unconscious state, I am my own best therapist. There are no boundaries, no masks and there is no pretending. Sometimes, dreaming releases feelings I didn’t even know I had.

The nightmare

Like I said, nightmares can sometimes be like some sort of shock therapy for me. Sometimes it can take days for me to fully shake a dream off. This is true for both nightmares and the really good dreams. When I was little, I often dreamt about things I wanted, such as a new toy or the boy I liked liking me back. I would be so angry at ‘real life’ when I woke up, because it wasn’t true. I would force myself back to sleep to get the dream back, which never really worked.

Although I hated such ‘perfect’ dreams I did realize (even then) the soothing effect they had on me. Dreaming has always played an important part in my life and gave me a peaceful place to escape to when real life wasn’t that much fun. Most of the time I feel relaxed when I dream and very peaceful. Most importantly, I feel free from any stress or anxiety. There is absolutely no other time when I can feel that way. Whatever stress I am having, it very rarely follows me into my dreams. And when it does, it’s there for a reason.

Why do I keep having nightmares?

Like many adults, I have learnt to block certain feelings and push them aside. I have gone through quite a lot of stressful things in my life and there are times when I really love putting my head in the sand and ignoring my troubles. It’s one of the reasons I am in therapy now. But nothing has ever been as therapeutic to me as dreaming. Dreams can be a huge outlet to me and I know something is up when I keep having nightmares. Sometimes, certain fears or anxieties should not be ignored and in my dreams they come out. My boyfriend sometimes tells me I laugh out loud in my dreams (which is so cool!) but there have also been many times where I have woken up crying. But it’s not a bad thing at all: those dreams are very helpful to me. Dreams can help me deal with certain issues I’m having and help heal my body and soul overnight.

“You do not realize the many physical problems that are solved for you, and by you, in your dreams” – Jane Roberts

The more I dream, the more I learn to control my dreams which is really, really cool. Whenever there’s a problem I’m having, or there’s something I really want, I try to focus all my attention on it right before I go to sleep. This can be tricky, as some problems can cause me to lay awake at night. What I do is consciously focus on the problem (or desire) and force myself to drift off to sleep. It has to be the last thing on my mind before I go to sleep. Now, sometimes nothing happens. But often the problem shows up in my dreams with a solution. It doesn’t need to be a dream where the answer is written in the sky. Dreams can also shift my perspective on things or give me more information. This happens to me a lot, in fact a lot of my blog posts originate in my dreams!

My experience

Dreams are very, very private but in order to show you what I mean I’m going to give you an example anyway. When I first started having a serious relationship, my boyfriend and I would fight a lot. Mostly about my feelings of how a relationship should be, and how the reality didn’t match those beliefs. In one of my dreams, my father, who passed away when I was young, showed up. It wasn’t an overly emotional dream, we just took a walk and talked. I remember very vividly that he told me not to take my relationship so seriously. “You’re not married!” he said. This dream has always stayed with me. Whether or not I believed that I was really speaking to my father, it was something I needed to hear. I was so young, why was I putting so much pressure on a new relationship? I should be having fun! And from that point on, I tried my hardest to follow his advice.

The meaning of dreams

I really believe dreams can be one of the best forms of natural therapy. I know a lot has been written on the meaning of dreams, but like I said: dreams are so private, and so is their meaning. What is uncomfortable or scary to one person, can be a great source of comfort to another. In my opinion, there is no universal meaning to dreams. To me nightmares can be extremely helpful to force me to confront certain emotions, while for others they can cause distress.

Dreaming is experienced differently by everyone. No one but you knows the meaning of your dreams. It might take a little practice and self-knowledge to understand your own dreams, but you really can use them to better yourself. For example, if you really want something, but can’t seem to get there in your mind, you can easily practice in your dreams. Want to be a singer? Be one in your dreams! See what it feels like, have fun with it. Dreams are limitless: you can literally do or be anyone. Use them – you’ll be so grateful you did.

Emmelyn X

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