De-Coding Your Dreams Dec 4, 2013 2:43:48 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Dec 4, 2013 2:43:48 GMT -5
De-coding your dreams
My dreams rarely seem logical, and they certainly don’t match up to events that have happened in real life. Thank goodness.
Can you imagine if you really did mysteriously turn up to a work meeting topless, or pop to the loo only for the walls to fall down around you.
Dreams have fascinated us for centuries. As far back as 3,000 BC they were documented on clay tablets, and countless philosophers and scientists through the ages have written about them, attempting to dissect and explain them. Theories have ranged from dreams being messages from the gods, flashes from another world, signs of illness and predictions of the future.
Our curiosity – and belief that they “mean” things – still endures. A recent survey by ibis Hotels found that a third of under-35s let their dreams guide their way and influence their decisions, while one in five claimed they’d made a life-changing decision based on a dream. The survey, which quizzed 2,000 Brits, revealed almost a fifth had gone traveling after dreaming about it, while nearly one in ten had made decisions about buying a house, getting married and having a baby.
Dream psychologist and author of Top 100 Dreams, Ian Wallace has no doubt that our slumber-induced visions are meaningful.
“We use dreams as a sense-making process,” says Wallace, who has analysed more than 170,000 dreams during his three-decade career. “Every day, we absorb millions and millions of pieces of information unconsciously that we can’t consciously process, either because we don’t notice them or that they’re too confusing or paradoxical. Dreaming’s evolved as a way of making sense of all the information we unconsciously absorb, and all the experiences and emotions that occur during the day.” While some dream analysts focus on more spiritual theories and some solely on lab data, for Wallace language is key to unlocking their meaning – in a nutshell, how language translates to the imagery we see during our sleep. “What happens in a dream is very often not what it relates to in real life,” he notes.
The process is highly instinctive and emotional, and these emotions, in our sleeping heads, are symbolised through language and imagery. For example, if our subconscious mind is heavily focused on achieving a goal, our brain might highlight the word “pursuit,” and this could translate to recurring dreams about being chased. Similarly, dreaming about eating an ice-cream at the top of a volcano doesn’t necessary mean we’re hankering after a very adventurous (and confused!) holiday.
It’s all about analysing the language and emotions that helped build that scene. Interestingly, how our brains create these images is overwhelmingly universal.
Tsunamis, or tidal waves, for instance, are the 19th most commonly reported dream. Wallace notes that when natural disasters or global devastating events occur, he’s bombarded with emails from people thinking they “predicted it in a dream,” but actually, dreams of plane crashes and earthquakes are so common that whenever these things happen the chances are thousands of other people recently dreamt about it too.
But dreams do portray meaningful elements of our realities and futures, Wallace believes. While the survey revelation that one-in-five have made big life decisions based on dreams may sound high, Wallace thinks far more of us are influenced by our dreams – but probably don’t realise it. “I always say to my clients, a dream’s just a dream until you put it into action,” he says. “Action” doesn’t have to mean big life decisions, but simply listening to what your subconscious is revealing about your true emotions and using that understanding to work towards solutions.
Doing this, though, requires us to remember our dreams. Wallace has a tip for this.
“Think of three words: will, still and fill,” he says.
“Before you go to sleep, tell yourself, ‘I will remember my dreams.’ Then as soon as you wake up, lie completely still. As soon as you start moving your muscles, brain chemistry changes and this causes the dream imagery to start disappearing. Then, as the dream comes back to you, try to fill in any gaps, until a full picture emerges.”
Five most common dreams:
Being chased. Being chased is the most common dream around the world and probably has been for about 30,000 years, since people started writing and drawing their dreams down, says Wallace. The word “pursuit” is at the centre of the dream, but this doesn’t mean you feel you’re being pursued in the waking world. “If you dream you’re being pursued, there’s something in waking life that you’re in pursuit of, and there’s something you’re trying to identify, that you’re unsure of and that’s perhaps getting in your way,” says Wallace. “One of the most powerful things you can do in a chase dream is turn around and ask your pursuer who they are and what they need. Usually you get a very powerful answer.”
Teeth falling out. This is extremely common, even for people with excellent dental hygiene who have no reason to fear it happening for real. ‘‘Teeth symbolise power and confidence,’’ says Wallace. ‘‘We tend to show our teeth on two occasions – when we’re happy and smiling, and perhaps when we’re snarling; asserting our anger. If you dream your teeth are falling out or crumbling, there’s something in waking life that’s causing your feelings of power and confidence to diminish in some way. So if we take that imagery, the action from that is to be more confident in waking life and take control of a situation, even if you feel a bit wobbly inside.’’
Can’t find a toilet/Exposed on the toilet. This is all about tending to your needs, says Wallace.
“Again, going back to language, we tend to say, ‘I need the toilet.’ Often in waking life, people tend to look after others’ needs rather than their own.
When you can’t find the toilet in a dream, there’s something in waking life where you need to express your needs to another person, but you feel guilty and ashamed about doing that and think it might end up being quite messy, so you repress those needs and end up tending to other peoples’ needs instead. Very often in dreams the toilet’s missing a door or walls, and it seems you’re missing personal boundaries. A good way of dealing with that is the little word ‘no’.
Sometimes you need to say, ‘No, I need to look after this for myself first, and then I can look after you.’”
Being naked or semi-naked in public. As well as protecting us and keeping us warm and comfortable, clothes are also a symbol of the image we present of ourselves to others. This dream is all about feeling exposed, or worrying about becoming exposed. “started a new job, or perhaps a new relationship, you might be lacking confidence in yourself and your talents,” notes Wallace. “Very often in the dream, while you’re missing a vital item of clothes, no one else seems to care. And that’s what happens in real life too: you might feel you’re lacking in confidence, but everyone else thinks you’re full of confidence and everything’s fine. Sometimes, to really show your talents in life, you have to open up a bit and be vulnerable, until people can begin to appreciate how good you really are.”
Being unprepared for an exam. The functions of exams is to judge our abilities and capabilities, notes Wallace. “People who have this dream are very often the most prepared people you could meet,” he adds. “They’re very organised and good at putting things together. What an exam does, is allow you to examine your performance and knowledge, so people who have this dream may be a little too self-critical in real life, and maybe too judgmental of their own abilities. So the action for this dream is, instead of being so self-critical and doubting of your talents, you should be celebrating them and feeling proud.”
Source: Abi Jackson, The Northern Echo, December 2, 2013.