Do Dreams Matter?
Consider that your dreams may provide fascinating insights into hidden parts of you.
Dreams are weird—don’t even get me started on nightmares. They may feel bizarre and as though they make no sense. Many of us don’t even remember our dreams.
So, why bother thinking about our dreams or even talking about your dreams with your therapist?
Many cultures see dreams as hugely important in our lives. For example, Native Americans believed that dreams were portals to the spirit world and a path to prophecy and quests, while the Aborigines called stories of the world’s very beginning their “dreamings.”
In our culture, dreams are more commonly considered as a window into the unconscious mind, a theory popularized by Austrian founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud in the early 1900s. In a similar vein, poet Rumi prophetically observed in his writings, “Though we seem to be sleeping, there is an inner wakefulness that directs the dreams. And that will eventually startle us back to the truth of who we are.” Dreams are incredibly personal and can be layered with significance and substance of your unconscious inner self. While there is still much we do not fully understand about dreams, some believe that unfogging the unconscious might help to reveal emotional conflicts occurring just beneath the surface.
Talking about your dreams with a therapist can help make sense of this. Having an open space to freely describe your dream in detail can be helpful in order to access some connections and possible reoccurring themes in your life. Often, images with seemingly little significance for you may become central in your therapy, creating an opportunity to resolve conflicts in your life.
If you would like to further explore your dreams, but have trouble remembering them, here are 4 tips that may help:
Go to sleep with the intention to remember. Make a conscious decision to remember your dreams. You have a better chance of remembering your dreams if you want to remember them. Try thinking about what you would like to dream about as a kind of prep for your dream action.
Keep a dream journal. Keep a journal by your bed or a recording device to note your dream as soon as you wake up. Record whatever you remember in that moment, without attempting to make sense of it at that point. Additionally, if possible—it might help to wake up more slowly vs. waking up with an alarm clock.
Don’t eat, drink alcohol or take medication right before bed. Substances can get in the way of getting enough REM sleep, the deep sleep stage in which dreaming occurs.
Practice again the next night. Like everything else, remembering your dreams takes effort and practice. The more you become conscious of and intentional regarding your dreams, the more likely you are to remember them.
Dreams could be a window into content that is unconscious to you and yet affect you, and meeting with a psychotherapist can facilitate the space to uncover this.
Till then, sweet dreams!