Why are dreams important, how to interpret its symbols? What to do with recurring dreams and series?
‘…I was by the cosmetics, standing before the mirror and trying to pull off a tiny piece of dead skin from my face. Instead of coming off, it pulled more skin with it. I wanted to get rid of them too, which pulled even more… and a bigger piece, one after another and it just wouldn’t stop. Slowly my naked face stared back at me with the pure muscles exposed without any layer of skin remaining. A cosmetician appeared behind me and nonchalantly stated: You will recover soon…’
I woke up and immediately realized I should have been in shock or at least scared but I wasn’t. I also felt that there is a very important message in this dream that I have to understand.
At that time I lived in Budapest, attended the University taking an evening course. Additionally, I worked for a living, but the salary was pretty low so it was hard to make ends meet. I received a good offer for a weekend “killer” job: we had to record and evaluate special high school entrance exam results from Friday to Monday. No sleeping except for a couple of hours when absolutely necessary. We were assigned to put data from paper into the computer error free. I was deeply ambivalent, because I needed the money and I was willing to invest the time and energy, but I was afraid that it would take so much out of me that it would jeopardize all the other assignments such as my daily job and university studies.
After some doubtful hesitation I fell asleep, and in the morning I got that dream. Soon I realized that it pictured a Hungarian saying: “You can pull 7 skins down from her…” in other words: she has plenty of back up to depend on.
I accepted the job, and took the lesson: dreams can bring incredibly valuable information from our unconscious mind. In this case it informed me about my background energy. But this is only one option among plenty of others.
People are interested in their dreams since the beginning of time. Most of us feel that they play a very important role in our lives, but not sure which way, or how we can interpret them. Should we take them literally? Should we buy a book of dreams for a solution?
None of them!
Sometimes it happens that a dream warns us of something straight ahead and if you are in the position to address it financially or have the required energy you can check or make sure you are prepared for it. – Most of the time when I dream I lose some teeth which translates that there is some dental issue to take care of.
In some situations, they are prophetic dreams, but in our everyday life we can be satisfied if we read our plain everyday dreams.
An average dream speaks to us in symbols – this makes them so fascinating and so blurry at the same time. Symbols are concentrated meanings of an idea or process. Often it contains a conflict and its solution at once.
In the analytic movement, Freud and Jung supposed a completely different approach to dream interpretation. I find the Jungian idea more convincing, so I will share this with you.
LANGUAGE OF THE UNCONSCIOUS
According to Jung, there is no censor and hidden content in dreams as Freud suggested. Instead the dream is the language of the unconscious. It brings messages about what is going on deep inside our soul. It tells its story in symbols; we have to decipher out its meaning. As it is the dreamer’s soul, situation and life experience, only the dreamer can read the meaning; there is no book of dreams or a psychologist who can do the work instead. – We can help though with the interpretation.
MAGIC OF DREAMS
Dreams are considerably different from our wakeful reality. They have no space and time. They are full of magical transformations. One person can redouble; two persons can fuse in one. Scenes can be completely imaginary, or a kind of mix of two or more real places. Unrealistic happenings are common place: we might be able to fly or breathe underwater. Usually, dreams are very lively emotionally.
RECURRING DREAMS – DREAM SERIES
It is especially worth paying attention to recurring dreams or dream series. They are circling around an important topic. It can be unresolved conflict, forgotten desire or repressed needs. It also can be a warning that our life or our choices don’t go into the direction what we wished for, but time goes by without considering them consciously.
IMPORTANCE OF THE DREAMS
You might ask: “Why should I deal with them? What is unconscious doesn’t bother me! Let it stay unconscious!”
I strongly argue with this opinion. The unconscious is the home of many important things. It includes not only the repressed and suppressed memories and all of our contradictory feelings, thoughts, judgments, the so called complexes, but it is the store house of the positive and creative potential what we still haven’t developed in ourselves, as well as the “blueprint” of our lifelong personality development.
Either solving our everyday problems or normally going through our life stages, we need to collaborate with our inner soul. What we are “meant” to be? What kind of talents, desires we have, what kind of directions are a good fit for us? Not to mention, if some difficulties came along in our past, the psychological adaptation to the situation requires knowing the unconscious effects of the event.
Actually in the Jungian theory the personality development itself is bringing our unconscious material into our conscious mind and integrating the two of them.
With common sense: if you know your personality, your needs, expectations and values and your feelings clearly, you are able to direct your life in the most pleasant direction, aren’t you?
HOW CAN DREAM HELP?
The simplest way is when it informs us about our body’s state like in the dream above, like I had enough energy to take the job, or I have to go the dentist before it’s too late.
Another option is the complementary dream. Often our conscious evaluation about something leans extremely to one side. In this circumstance dream, it can represent the other side of the story. For example; after a tragic event in which a lady’s husband took an active part, the lady was completely outraged and disappointed to the degree of considering divorce. She dreamed about the death of her husband repeatedly. You might think: “Of course she wished the death of the husband.” But the emotional background of the dream revealed the opposite. She was completely, desperately sorrowful and could not imagine how she could possibly continue her life without her husband. After thorough consideration she was convinced that these dreams balanced out her daily struggle with the aftermath of her trauma. In her dreams she was able to feel the deep tie to her husband which was swept away by the fury in her awaken life. Without that help she might have divorced and later regretted the choice.
Very important dreams are the ones which work with archetypes. In those, an ancient archetype brings an answer to a present question or doubt. (Archetypes are common reaction types and its images for the humankind common experiences like life, birth, death, fear, light, men-women, and so on.) One of my friends was pregnant and as usual among pregnant women she harbored some doubt about how good of a mother she would become. One night she saw a dream in which a gorilla mother took good care of her baby. As a psychiatrist herself, she immediately understood the encouragement in the dream: our ancient past is full of good mothers from whom the “mother archetype” is derived: we can rely on this “instinctive mother” even if in our life we did not have the best experience with “good motherhood”.
CHERISH YOUR DREAMS
Listen to your dreams! – You don’t dream? No way! Sleep studies show that we dream every night about 4-5 times. But most of us simply forget them. You might try to ask yourself to remember them in the morning. Put a notice book near your bed. If you wake up at night, you can write down what you remember. Write down immediately because they fly away very easily as the conscious mind claims its territory! If you can recall only snippets, put them down. You can draw as well. I know; you cannot draw. Me neither. This is not for art class! This is for remembering and understanding.
Your next dream could be the continuation or explanation of the previous one. It doesn’t matter if you don’t exactly understand what it wants to be. Ask for more dreams, more information. Sooner or later you will see a picture what your unconscious wants from you to see. Be prepared that this is not the reality: no crystal clear numbers and diagrams, you have to put up with some uncertainty.
Emotions are the best guides. If you feel something different than you expected – think about what could it be, or why do you feel that. When do you usually feel that way? – When I wasn’t horrified after the cosmetics dream I knew it is not a simple “horror dream”; it’s meaning is not that scary than the picture itself.
Also your feeling can show you if you are on the right path: if you feel happiness, contentment, the feeling of “eureka” you can bet this is what the message is about, or this is the way what your unconscious wanted to show you, or wanted you to take.
Engage in the dialog with your inner world and be proud of the form of expression which matches up with the best fine art.
Enjoy your dreams!