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How to decipher our dreams

A dream can be funny and illogical, but it can also offer exciting insights. Here are some suggestions from research for anyone interested in dream interpretation.

We don’t know why people dream. We do know, however, how often they do it. We always dream when we sleep. Night after night, we are therefore confronted with a host of dreamlike images throughout our life.

We usually forgot these images
when we woke up.

The moment of awakening is therefore crucial for the dream interpretation. You should write down your dream, advise dream experts. Imagine a beach and imagine that you are walking by the water. Each wave carries new things: stones, shells, kelp, sometimes a starfish. If you pick up anything that runs aground on the beach, you will keep it. If you go your way, you risk being empty-handed, because the next wave could take everything. These objects, it’s your dream and the images it conveys. The sea, on the other hand, is your unconscious.

Meanings of dreams: writing down or talking about your dream

If you want to be able to better decipher your dream, you must put a pen and paper on your bedside table before falling asleep. If that makes your job easier, you can also use voice recording from your smartphone or, better yet, a dictation device because a push of a button is enough. The most important thing is to act quickly when you wake up.

The dream is a message sent by your unconscious, a comment on a personal life situation, according to medical professionals involved in dream therapy and its interpretation. Our own behaviors play a central role in our dreams: what behavior do I have in my dream? Am I passive or active? Am I involved in my dream or just an observer? And what are the parallels with my real life?

The story of a patient of who is still very emotionally attached to her ex-husband despite a long-standing separation is illustrative of such a parallel between dream and reality.

One day, she told her psychiatrist about this dream: in her sleep, her father, deceased for many years, would have appeared to her without warning to have her arrested by the police. The therapeutic interview revealed that in her childhood, the patient always lived in fear of being rejected or punished by her father.

The patient saw in this dream a parallel between her father and her ex-husband. A revelation that ultimately helped her overcome the painful separation from her ex-husband. The relationship with the parents – very close or without concrete manifestation – endures in every human being, and this relationship also has ultimately an impact on the choice of the partner.

Put your dream on paper
and talk about it

If you are interested in the interpretation of your dreams, it is not necessarily essential to get started straight away in psychotherapy. A dream journal, written or verbal, can already be instructive. If the recording of dreams can be useful for their interpretation, discussing it can be as much helpful.

Talking about your dream and its possible meaning allows you to see things from new angles that could prove essential for interpretation. According to dream experts, the ideal is to converse with a trusted person interested in dreams and their interpretation. After all, it’s often your own dreams that are the hardest to understand.

Helpful questions to interpret dreams

When trying to interpret your dreams, remember one thing: dreams are completely personal.

Why do we dream in our sleep? What are we dreaming of?

It depends on one person to another. The answers to our dreams are bound to be just as personal. Research questions can help explain your dream and the images it conveys.

The dream, a form of curiosity

Apart from psychology, other scientific disciplines are concerned with dreams and their interpretation. We still do not know today why people dream.

Since it is impossible to record a dream with technical means, researchers must be content with subjective and incomplete narratives. Other data could nevertheless be collected, in particular thanks to neuroscience: measurements of the brain activity carried out during sleep thus revealed that the limbic system is extremely active when we dream at night.

The latter is responsible for emotions such as anger, fear and panic, but also for the so-called research system. It is activated when we feel a desire or a great interest. This seems to indicate that dreams may have something to do with our curiosity. Some neuroscientists therefore believe today that nightmares could be used to simulate dangerous and even terrifying situations.

The dream would learn the behaviors that will be useful to us in the future during our life. When we dream, for example, of the death of a loved one while sleeping, we simulate the process of separation. From the point of view of evolutionary biology, dreams are therefore a kind of survival strategy.

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