Lifestyle

Dreams express your emotions and subconscious self

Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychology, believed that dreams were the window to the subconscious; that dreams were an opportunity for psychologists to see below the surface to our deepest emotions, psychological needs and unguarded desires.

Freud placed great emphasis on dream content and symbolism. A cigar was rarely just a cigar in Freud’s psychotherapeutic attempts at dream interpretation.

Native American culture traditionally placed great emphasis on dream content and interpretation. In past centuries, dreams were used as tools from the spirit world to guide the life of the dreamer toward the correct path. Dreams were used to determine important life events such as hunting, marriage, war and birth. Disregarding the message of a dream would cause disharmony with the spiritual world.

Today, most psychologists find dreams rich with meaning, but leave interpretation and meaning to the dreamer. And, admittedly, some dreams are wild and bizarre, without hidden meaning, and possibly the result of indigestion or an overactive imagination.

Most dreams occur during the REM (rapid eye movement) cycle of sleep. The average adult spends about two hours each night in REM or dreaming. Dreams are created by brain activity. Unlike the body that rests during sleep, the brain stays active during sleep, filtering and organizing the information received during the day while you were awake.

The following are some dream symbols and interpretations:

• Flying: Dreaming of flying can symbolize a desire to be free of problems and enjoy a more carefree and adventurous lifestyle.

• Sex: Erotic dreams are usually an indication of sexual desire. The nature of the sexual activity can also indicate emotions like hope and fear.

• Murder: Dreaming of harming or killing someone may reveal hidden feelings of resentment toward another.

• Kissing: A kiss is a symbol of love and affection. Kissing may indicate that you hold someone dear to you or it may highlight a significant relationship.

• Violence: If you dream of behaving violently, you maybe hiding something from yourself. The dream could also indicate the need to assert yourself and not allow others to prevent your progress.

Unlike the days of Freud, dreams are an aspect of life that is less explored in our busy, modern day hustle. In fact, most Americans would be grateful to just receive a good night’s sleep. The meaning and content of dreams have long fascinated societies around the world.

Dreams make an interesting topic of conversation whether you are at a dinner party or reading a popular novel. Dreams are an expression of emotion and self. We all dream, but not all of us remember our dreams. Dreams may allow you some insight into your waking life, but should not dominate your decisions in life.

Jennifer L. Gray, Ph.D., is a private practice therapist in Federal Way who provides individual and family therapy. Call (253) 653-0168.

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