Bad Dreams or Nightmares? Lucky You
Dreams and Nightmares
Why would anyone want anxiety dreams? Don't people want to get rid of them?
Though perhaps not obvious, almost all nightmares and recurring dreams provide an extremely valuable service to the dreamer. If we block them, we are likely missing their immediate benefit; if we remember but ignore them, we miss their vital messages, both very unwise strategies indeed that serve to perpetuate or worsen the situation, much like putting a Band-Aid over the oil light on our car because we find it annoying or upsetting.
For some, unpleasant dreams recur identically; for others, the content changes yet the theme repeats, such as scenes of falling, being pursued or attacked, late or unprepared for an exam or presentation, unable to move or scream, or having teeth fall out. This type of anxiety dream usually recur and are mainly associated with the dreamer's failure to recognize and solve related life conflicts.
The majority of nightmares therefore, like a bitter but quite necessary medicine, represent opportunities for personal healing through much-needed emotional release. They also warn of current behavior patterns that need adjustment if we don't want such unpleasant dreams to repeat or worsen. Sometimes, such imbalances resolve themselves as the dream percolates into waking thought and we unknowingly respond and make changes in our life. Yet if we ignore such subconscious warnings repeatedly, then life often speaks "louder" to get our attention, bringing related events, which I call "daymares," into our waking hours. These daymares show up as sickness, accidents, relationship difficulties or other unfortunate circumstances that force us outright to deal with the issue at hand.
So, we truly are lucky to have such nightmares, since they provide a natural "pressure-release" therapy for the psyche, and an early cure if we try to understand and act upon the valuable insights that they offer. The goal is still to put an end to anxiety dreams, but by evolving them into more beneficial scenarios, not by blocking, ignoring or denying them.
Fortunately, there exist non-pharmaceutical nightmare treatments that are remarkably effective. Two of the most useful techniques include dream re-scripting, and lucid dreaming. The lucidity approach is demonstrated by this woman's dream:
"After many recurring nightmares where I'm pursued by a terrifying figure, I learned lucid dreaming and had the following dream: 'I'm in a frantic car chase with the pursuer right behind me. Swerving into a parking lot, I bolt out of the car with him hot on my heels. Suddenly, the scene seems familiar and I realize that I'm dreaming though the lot and trees still seem more real than ever. Drawing up every ounce of courage, I swirl to face my pursuer, repeating to myself that it's only a dream. Still afraid, I scream, "You can't hurt me" He stops, looking surprised. For the first time I see his beautiful, loving eyes. "Hurt you? I don't want to hurt you. I've been running after you all this time to tell you that I love you" With that, he holds out his hands, and as I touch them, he dissolves into me. I awake filled with energy, feeling great for days.' The nightmare never returned." (M.R., San Jose, CA)
So instead of wishing you sweet dreams, I will go one step further, with your greatest fulfillment in mind, and wish you truly pleasant nightmares.
Craig Webb is an author, speaker, dream analyst, and Executive Director of the DREAMS Foundation a non-profit organization that offers information, courses and private counseling/training about dreams, nightmares, lucid dreams and their practical applications. He's made over 200 public/media appearances including the Discovery Channel, CTV, ABC, AOL, and many others. To find out about courses, private consultations, or DreamQuest outdoor retreats, email: [email protected] or contact: 514-990-2113.