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Working with dreams – what purpose can it serve?

Published: 26/01/2022
Agnieszka Pawłowska
Psychologist, certified Mindfulness and Compassion teacher.

Date of the last update: 26.01.2022

Dreams can be colourful, surprising, inspiring and even frightening. They can have a complex and logical plot or be a collection of meaningless scenes. Some people believe them to be prophetic, while others do not attach much importance to them. The material that dreams provide us with is certainly not easy. However, there are several reasons why it is useful to study it.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is the significance of dreams?
  2. Why is working with dreams worthwhile?
  3. Summary

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What is the significance of dreams?

Dreams play a special role in culture. Many tales and stories find them significant and even prophetic, while bookshops offer dream books, that is collections of dream symbols and their interpretations. Scientists, including psychologists, have also had a close eye on dreams for a long time. Some psychotherapeutic trends attribute a special role to dreams, as they perceive them as a reflection of the content hidden in the subconscious. Viewed from this angle, dreams are definitely meaningful. They are a reflection of what is inside a person. They can show the dreamer’s experiences, attitudes, life history and inner conflicts. Generally, however, dreams cannot be perceived on a literal level. They require a deeper understanding and interpretation. So how to work out dreams? The meaning of dreams can be learned in numerous ways, but the most important thing is to start remembering them. A dream diary comes in handy here. Next, you should analyse your dream and try to understand the situations or symbols present in them. Psychotherapy can help in this process, especially in psychoanalytical, psychodynamic and Gestalt trends.

Why is working with dreams worthwhile?

Does working with dreams even make sense? Many people ask themselves this question. Yet, if we pay attention to our dreams they can bring us many interesting conclusions, although dealing with them is not always easy. What exactly can be the purpose of investigating dreams?

  • Getting to know oneself. Every person has a part of the psyche called the subconscious. Although its content is deeply hidden, it can influence a person’s choices and behaviour. Unconscious content often manifests itself through dreams, albeit in a symbolic way. Discovering its meaning is related to learning an important truth about oneself – behavioural patterns, fears, traumas as well as… enormous potential.
  • Identifying problems. Dreams can be a kind of signal. They can warn of a real or more symbolic danger – after all, fears are not always rational. Still, each time they have an impact on the way we feel and function, even though often we are not even aware of their source. Dreams can help to identify the problem, as they often point to the cause of the experienced tension.
  • Freeing yourself from traumas. Various traumas experienced in the early stages of life can often be an obstacle to a happy and fulfilling life. However, we are generally unable to recall these experiences as memories. We may simply not remember them or push these memories out of our consciousness. The healing process, however, involves facing these traumas. It is useful to focus on the subconscious content to reveal them, and that is often revealed in dreams.
  • Getting ideas and inspiration. People often think intensely about certain issues, looking for inspiration and a solution to their problems. Sleep comes to the rescue. A relaxed mind can bring a hint in the form of a dream. It is not uncommon that it is while dreaming that a scientists comes up with an interesting idea or an artist gets an inspiration for creating a new work. Thus it’s worth treating dreams as an opportunity to meet the more creative part of your own self.

You may also be interested in: The Power of Affirmation – Can You Trust It?

Summary

There are people who believe in prophetic dreams. Others, on the other hand, will say that it is the subconscious that can indirectly create the future by controlling the choices and behaviour of the dreamer. Dreams in themselves do not always attract attention and are sometimes ignored. Still, at times there appears a certain motif or climate that recurs in various dreams, not allowing us to forget about themselves. Then it is worth thinking about it. Quite possibly, it’s the subconscious trying to tell us something important.

Explore more: Is it always worth being optimistic?

Sources:

Pesant N., Zadra A., Working with dreams in theraphy: What do we know and what we should do?, [in:] Clinical Psychology Review, 2004, 24, pp. 489-512. Available online: https://sbmmupsychology.yolasite.com/resources/draem%20in%20therapy.pdf  (09/02/2021). 

Agnieszka Pawłowska
Psychologist, certified Mindfulness and Compassion teacher. She has been practising mindfulness for over 10 years and is one of Poland's first certified Mindfulness teachers (MBSR - Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction). She is also a certified Compassion (MBCL - Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living) teacher and supervisor.