by Clare Gibson
Many of us suppress our emotions in the waking world -- especially extreme ones -- for fear of somehow alienating those around us, or else of appearing dangerously vulnerable, or even of disgusting ourselves.
This means that the only way in which we can "safely" express our true feelings is in dreamland. Dreams that are flooded with a positive emotion may furthermore often be categorized as wish-fulfillment dreams, while those that are blighted by a negative emotion may be classed as safety-valve dreams.
Below is an analysis of two emotions common in dreams: fear and freedom.
If you had a nightmare that left you paralyzed with fear, you probably awoke feeling very relieved to realize that it was just a dream, and you may have spent most of the next day trying to push it out of your memory. However, these types of dreams are underlined by our waking fears -- which are very real, though perhaps repressed -- which are likely to appear in our dreams again and again until we confront and resolve them.
Symbolic and Verbal Associations
Unconscious fears; phobias
Something (or someone) that one finds "monstrous"
Repressed personal qualities or characteristics
A call to action; the "fight or flight" response
If you have a waking phobia of spiders, did you wake up in a panic after dreaming that hundreds of giant, hairy arachnids were crawling all over you?
Or, if you suffer from a fear of heights, did you have a nightmare in which you found yourself dangling precariously over the edge of a very high cliff?
If so, your dream was probably just mirroring your waking phobias, especially if something in the real world has recently triggered your fear.
And, as scary as your dream may have been to you, your unconscious mind probably selected the nightmare scenario as a "call to action," in order to urge you to confront and conquer your fear.
If you have a recurring scary dream, you may find it helpful to tell yourself that when you next have the dream, you will not run from whatever it is that frightens you, be it spiders or boogeymen, but will instead stand and face whatever it is.
If you do, you may be surprised to find that the dream consequences are not as bad as you imagined them to be, which will help to allay your fear and hopefully put an end to the dreams.
The unconscious will sometimes portray our fears in monstrous form. Did you have a dream in which you were being pursued by a hideous, fanged monster that had run you down and was about to overtake you?
If so, the monster was most likely a symbol of something that you fear in the waking world that you feel is threatening to consume you.
Doing some free association may help you to figure out whom or what your dream monster represented. Was it your predatory lover? An ogre-like teacher? Your own "green-eyed" beast of jealousy? Could your dream vampire have represented your energy-sapping friend? (Or had you just watched a vampire movie on late-night television?)
Once you have identified the source of your fright, you will be better able to arm yourself in order to do battle with whatever it is that is troubling you.
Sometimes our dreams may fill us with an exhilarating sense of freedom or liberation. And when we awake from this sort of dream, we may feel somewhat let down or disappointed to realize that we must now deal with the more mundane reality of the world.
Dreams of flying may be the most literal or obvious form of freedom dreams, but almost any dream scenario may fall into this category, depending on our own subjective feelings and experiences.
Symbolic and Verbal Associations
Exhilaration Escape; release Casting off your shackles "Being yourself " "Flying high," or "floating free"
In your dream, were you soaring over beautiful mountains and valleys, or running carefree through a meadow of wildflowers? Or did your dream self rise up and walk out of your tedious office job for the last time?
Dreams in which we finally break away from the chains and shackles that bind us -- physically or emotionally -- are likely to fill us with an overwhelming feeling of euphoria.
Wish-fulfillment, escapist fantasy dreams of this sort are special treats from our unconscious minds, sent to us in order to make up or compensate for the tedium or drudgery of our day-to-day lives.
These dreams may provide us with the little extra boost that we need in order to cope with daily life--and if we heed their message, they may even encourage us to release ourselves from whatever (or whoever) is holding us back or sapping our vitality in the waking world.
If you felt extremely sad or depressed after waking from a dream in which you experienced ultimate freedom, do you feel that the dreariness and the confines of your current life have chained you down so firmly that there is no way of ever escaping to happiness?
For instance, are you in a relationship that is making you feel trapped or claustrophobic? Are the demands of others, or of your workload, stealing your time, your energy, or your individuality? Do you long for a more exciting, stimulating relationship, job, or life? Do you desire the freedom to "be yourself "?
If so, your unconscious mind was probably using your dream in order to urge you to seek appropriate help to take the necessary steps to release yourself from whatever situation is confining you.
Though your dream may have provided you with a temporary release from your troubles, you may continue to experience your waking sadness until you make a conscious effort to cast off your shackles -- whether they were put on you by yourself or by others -- and to live your life in whatever manner you find personally fulfilling.
About the Author
Clare Gibson is the author of numerous books on dreams and astrology. This article is part of an extract from her book: The Ultimate Dream Decoder. The full extract can be read here.
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