Why You Can’t Stop Thinking About That Dream

Perhaps you arrived here as a result of searching for one of the most highly Googled dream topics: dreams of snakes or other wildlife, dreams about your ex, dreams of your teeth falling out, or dreams of needing to find a bathroom.

But I imagine you may have, instead, found yourself on this web site because of some stirring inside of you, some itch, or some unexplained knowing that the dream you had last night was important. Maybe not even important. Confusing? Surreal? Too vivid to forget? Too intense to be alone with? Too relevant to ignore?

Yes, all of those instincts are correct.

There is a reason you’re reading articles about dreams on the internet, even if you’re trying to understand the “meaning” of having one of the common dream themes above. 

There’s a part of you that is aware — if ever so lightly — that dreams serve a much underutilized purpose: to help us know ourselves better by allowing communication with what I’ll refer here to as our “psyche,” but what I would also comfortably call the “soul,” “higher self,” “essential nature,” or “the divine.”

Despite what you’ve learned or have been convinced to believe, dreams are the result of the necessary human function to sleep. Everyone who sleeps dreams, even if we wake up believing we haven’t and don’t. 

Take a moment to consider that fact: dreams, like sleep, are an involuntary consequence of a necessary human biological function.

Does it make sense to you that dreams, then, are extraneous or inconsequential?

There is still no definitive answer as to why we dream. There are theories. Some of those theories focus on memory consolidation. Some focus on emotions and problem solving. Recently, neuroscientist David Eagleman even proposed that dreaming is necessary to safeguard the visual cortex—the part of the brain responsible for processing vision.

I am very interested in why we dream, and I love to read about current and new theories. However, it’s not why I’m here. It’s not why I show up to write these articles or work one-on-one with clients doing Natural Dreamwork.

I am here because I believe the content of our dreams is material for our use, and that instead of benefitting from the awareness dreams aim to offer, most of us (for innocent enough reasons) throw away, devalue, or ridicule our dream content without a second thought.

And, that’s a shame.

Even those of us who take dreams seriously often find ourselves in the painful predicament of being teased, mocked, or ignored when we share our dreams (and the subsequent feelings that arise as a result of them) with others.

This has not always been the case across human history, and is still not the case in certain cultures now. There are cultures who take dreams so seriously that dreamers are consulted for strategic planning in matters as serious as war or other types of communal crisis.

It’s unfortunate how many of us, in times of personal crisis, cry out for help, guidance, or support, whether in prayer or simply in despair, but don’t realize that those cries and prayers may be answered, or at least tended to, if we only were to recall and work our dreams.

Though simple, it’s not easy work. This is why so many people are on the internet searching up “dreams of snakes.” Dreams don’t make sense to us the same way waking life images and other sensory inputs do.

But not because they can’t make sense to us. It’s just that we haven’t learned (or perhaps, more likely, have forgotten) how to receive and understand the input inside the content of our dreams. Working our dreams, especially with another person who can reflect back to us that dream content which is more difficult for us to see, trains us in the language of dreams.

Over time, we start to get better at getting the messages. Those messages can aid and support us in all areas of life: career, marriage, interpersonal relationships, decision making, creativity, problem solving, and more.

Businesspeople could consult their dreams for insight into whether or not to collaborate with another firm or to sign on to a joint venture. Artists could consult their dreams for inspiration when creatively stuck. Politicians could consult with dreams to learn better how they personally feel about a matter separate from what their constituency or advisors feel.  

Dreams can be fun. Dreams can be entertaining. Some dreams may be less crucial to our health and well-being than others. But dreams are often a lot more important or serious than we realize or allow ourselves to acknowledge.

You can’t stop thinking about that dream because there was an image or an encounter that you know, deep inside, you’re meant not to forget, but instead to contemplate, to re-encounter, and to feel.

Your feelings are the cipher. (Not your reactions or conditioned responses, but your feelings. More on this distinction in a future article.)

Don’t stop thinking about that dream you can’t stop thinking about. Find a person you can be safely vulnerable with and share it. Sometimes simply in the telling of the dream there is insight or medicine.

If there is no person to tell it to (and I understand that’s the case for many of us), you can seek out a dreamwork practitioner or a dream circle in your community. Feel free to reach out to me if that’s the path you’re ready to take.

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