While dreams are not magical, there are two things that are interesting about them: first of all, they are constructed by your mind on purpose. Sometimes people think they are random images and stories, but it is difficult to believe they are totally random when they seem to have logical story lines. So the question is, why is your mind creating that experience for you while you are dreaming?

The second interesting thing about dreams is that they construct stories using the leftover impressions from when you are awake. Sometimes you might have a dream with a strange aspect to it and then realize you read something in the newspaper about that topic. It seems that your mind is interested in some topics that you–the conscious you–is not. So insignificant bits of the day creep into your dreams as your mind processes them and tries to make sense of them.

For our purposes, these two factors are yet more evidence that our minds are more than we can consciously know about. They have an agenda that may be different from our waking agenda and they pay attention to things we do not think we are paying attention to. So there is a wide awake me, but there is a lot of me that is active but which is out of my awareness.

We can become more aware of those other parts of our minds both by trying to pay attention to them and by seeing their effects in our lives. For example, if I have a dream, I can think about why my mind constructed that story and what parts of my recent experience it has used to do that. Does my mind create fear? Longing? Pleasure? Humor? Any of these experiences is possible in a dream. So why did my mind create the experience for me that it did? What does it represent about my relationship with me?

So I can try to introspect what my mind is like from a deliberate, conscious state. I can also notice what happens as a result of what my mind does. As an example, suppose I misplace my car keys. It could be a random error, or it could be my mind making trouble for me. I get worried about my keys. I spend a lot of time looking for them. I get aggravated. After a while, it turns out they weren’t lost, but just at the bottom of my purse, or dropped out of my pocket on the kitchen floor. I can see that my mind has created a feeling of frustration. I can wonder why.

Dreams happen when we are not consciously controlling our minds. That is why people often believe our dreams are our unconscious minds trying to communicate to us. We look for meanings and our minds interpret what we experience. For the same reason, dreams are ways our minds can seek certain kinds of familiar emotional experiences. If we are generally worried about things, and if right now there is nothing to worry about, our minds might create a story to make us worry while we are asleep. In other words, at the very least, our dreams can make us curious about why our minds are constructing them.


About norasblog

I am a psychotherapist with a private practice in downtown Chicago.
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