What If I Don’t Dream?

Sometimes an individual will contact me, curious about dreamwork, but claims to never dream. After reading a lot of material about sleep and dreaming, I’ve come to believe that almost everybody dreams every night, save for the very rare few who have severe neurological conditions or who take medicine that may drastically impact their sleep cycles. (In these cases, there may be Chinese medicinal herbal remedies that can help improve sleep. Feel free to be in touch with me via email if you would like a recommendation for a practitioner who specializes in this.)

Bottom line: Most people dream at least 3-4 dreams every night. The block is with recalling them.

I’ve written before with tips for recalling your dreams. Most of the people I’ve worked with who’ve expressed interest in remembering dreams see an increase in dream recall once they’ve begun to practice remembering. Yes, dream recall is a practice, a ritual, a regimen. People especially remember more dreams once they commit to writing down whatever they remember, immediately upon waking, even if it’s in the middle of the night.

What I want to discuss briefly today is another reason why you may not remember your dreams, and therefore, are convinced you don’t dream.

Here it is: We may not want to face the truths our dreams reveal to us. We are afraid of the dream content. We prefer forgetting the images and the feelings our dreams elicit. We can’t be bothered with feeling. Period. We think we don’t have room or time for feeling in our lives. 

There is a benefit to forgetting our dreams. I’ve written about this, as well — how I sometimes feel grateful for the forgetfulness that quickly arises after a particularly potent dream that brings about painful or terrifying feelings. 

In that article, I wrote: “When I woke in my darkened bedroom I was overcome by such heartache, fear, and dread that I forced myself out of bed in order to feel the ground beneath my feet. I walked to the bathroom and turned on the light to gaze at myself in the mirror, to remind myself of my own reality, of my (I hoped) identity.”

Have you experienced something like this before?

It doesn’t have to be terror that arises. It could simply be an old discomfort we thought we left behind in the past. I’ve been having dreams of junior high lately; finding myself in restrooms or movie theaters or hallways with “the popular girls.” As a result, I’ve found myself immersed again in social situations I have not been required to navigate in a long time. My reactions and behavior in the dreams are curious to me upon waking. Haven’t I grown out of all of that?

Apparently, on some level, I have not. Or if I have, perhaps the dream wants to call my attention to ways I have.

But for those of us who prefer to keep painful or awkward situations from the past in the past, out of mind, dreams can be an affront. We might choose to brush off the dream as irrelevant or nonsense simply as a way to avoid the feelings the dream is bringing up.

I don’t recommend this. I understand it. But I don’t recommend it.

My belief is that “the one” who sends us our dreams, is benevolent. The dream images and encounters are provided to us in love, even if the feelings provoked are difficult. The timing is usually right. And ultimately the soul won’t be ignored, as hard as we may try to ignore it.

The dreams typically come when they do because they resonate with a feeling you’re having or avoiding in waking life. So if I am having dreams of junior high social situations, then likely something happening in my waking life resonates with how the 13-year-old girl Me felt, faced with questions of self-worth, belonging, or connecting in groups. Likely, there is a belief or a way of being I developed as a result of those interactions. Perhaps my dream is there to show me this belief or way, for my own benefit or growth now.

This may sound harsh, but it makes me sad to think a person may go the whole of his life forgetting his dreams. Especially for those of us actively seeking personal or spiritual growth by other means — whether it’s in personal development workshops or life coaching or therapy — dreams are rich with answers to some of our most intimate or existential questions. And we are the only ones with access to those answers. No teacher, no preacher, no coach has access to that. Not unless we recall the dreams and choose to share them.

I write this with much love in my heart and empathy for the many of us who have experienced traumatic or stressful events in our lives, and with understanding for why we choose to forget the dreams that remind us of this pain. And, I invite you to consider that when the dreams do come, they’re coming for your benefit. Working these dreams with someone who knows how to be honest, but also compassionate is a way to be in contact with your soul in a way that may lead to deep healing.

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