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Aug 28, 2011

Having anxiety dreams? No problem! They’re just wake-up calls!




I was talking about my own recurring anxiety dream with my friends today and it seems everyone has one. Almost everyone at some point is affected by anxiety. Whether you show outwardly that the anxiety affects you or whether you tend to keep it bottled up within you, your anxiety will more than likely play itself out in your dreams somehow. For some, unpleasant dreams or nightmares recur repeatedly; for others, the content may change while the theme remains the same, such as scenes of falling, or of being surrounded by animals like buffaloes and snakes, late or unprepared for a presentation or an exam, stuck in slow motion, unable to move or scream or even breathe, or naked in public, to name a few common themes. And for those who see recurring dreams this may even be what you're wishing you could get rid of. But dream analysts say that most nightmares and almost all recurring dreams are trying to 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 may well be missing the vital message that they are trying to bring us about our life. This type of experience, when unpleasant, is said to be usually associated with lack of progress by the dreamer to recognize and solve related conflicts in life. 


When you dream, your subconscious takes over your thoughts. This means that any reserves that you might normally have during waking hours are absolved. Anything can happen in dreams and when faced with anxiety dreams, many people find them to be upsetting. Most people wake up with the fear that this dreaded dream will come true. In actuality, this dream is more than likely the mind’s way of trying to work out a stressful, anxiety-ridden situation. Even though you are still asleep, your mind is always thinking, trying to understand situations.


Our dreams are usually symbolic rather than literal. That is, the things in your dream may represent something completely different from what they appear to be. Just like with the dream about the death of a child, the death is actually representative of unknown change rather than actual death. Anxiety dreams often involve you trying to run away from something. This is a common, but still terrifying experience. The thing hunting you may take the form of a man, an animal, or even a monster. Children have even reported anxiety dreams in which they are being chased by an inanimate object such as a classroom or toilet. Adults may find themselves crawling through small spaces or narrow tunnels to escape what is chasing them.


While anxiety dreams are often alarming and troublesome, you need to realize that they are an indication of someone or a situation that is consciously distressing you. While you may be able to ignore it during waking hours, it will creep into your dreams. Some anxiety dreams may be so disturbing that they cause you sleepless nights. To overcome this, take a good look at the situations and relationships in your life to see what might be linked to the dream. If you can figure out what is causing the dream and resolve that situation, you may find the dreams will lessen if not cease completely.


Renown psychologist Carl Jung observed that portions of our whole personality which we knowingly or unknowingly judge become disowned, and are frequently projected outward in dreams, taking the form of aggressors, devils, monsters, intimidating animals or natural events (e.g. tidal waves), and so on. Jung referred to these symbolic figures as "the shadow". Whether we become aware of such elements of our shadow through nightmares or daymares, re-accepting these judged and disowned portions of ourselves is the message and the awaiting gift. 


So, we truly are lucky to have such nightmares, since they provide a natural ‘pressure-release’ therapy for the psyche. The goal is still to put an end to nightmares and recurring dreams, but by evolving them into more beneficial scenarios, and not by blocking, ignoring or denying them.

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