Feelings in Dreams

Japanese Water Wheel

I was asked today if it is significant that the feelings from a dream stay with you, well beyond when you wake from an impactful dream. The answer….  Yes it is!

Feelings are entwined with dreams, it’s actually hard to have one without the other. Some dreams are like passing reports, a fact sheet if you like. Most have a large feeling content which actually drives the symbolism, one of the reasons it is so complex. Much of the time feelings will come and go within the natural context of the dream, much as they do in daily life as our day progresses and events come and go. Generally not much specifically lingers on, there’s a general ‘sense’ of the day by the time work is done and that’s about it. That is unless something quite impactful happens, then it’s a different story. An excellent example is when people say “I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when <insert famous event> happened and I saw it on the news”. This is the intensity of emotion imprinting the images we see at the time into our brain.

Now think of this in context of a dream leaving a lingering feeling. In the same way dreams will sometimes create some bizarre imagery to get us to take notice (finally) of what they are trying to tell us, they will sometimes use intense feelings to do the same thing. OR it can be that what the dream we are dealing with has a very strong emotional store and that by leaving the proverbial ‘door’ to that emotional store open long after the dream has finished, it can allow those emotions to drain out over a period of time. These are dynamics we really have to decide for ourselves – they are our dreams after all. Do we keep the door open or close it and lock those feelings in until it creaks open again?

The example today was a work dream. It’s really important people have work dreams. Often they are mundane and essentially uninteresting, but again, in a work environment there is a lot going on and this has to be processed through the subconscious. Interactions with colleagues, pressure from higher levels in the company, demands from boards, deadlines, the list goes on…. No one gets to escape these things. The reason it’s important people have work dreams, I take particular note when going through patients’ dreams if they have a lack of work dreams, is that the dream process helps us de-stress and wind down. Those small conflicts and annoyances with colleagues, as small as most of them are, all add up over a while. The client or customer calls that are stressful to deal with, office infrastructure not working (printer, I’m looking at you..) and the list goes on. There’s so many events in the day that even though they are quite small, each one adds to the former and so we have quite a load by the time our day finishes.

To explain why having intervals of sleep with dreams, especially the work ones, is so important we’re going to turn to an old fable. This version places us in the court of an Indian ruler. One of his wise men had crafted this king a very fine chess board. The king was so pleased he offered the palace wise man (who was also quite good at maths) a reward of his own choosing. The wise man told the king all he wanted was rice. The king was very pleased with this as he had a lot of rice. When the king asked how much rice, the wise man said he wanted one grain on the first square of the board, two grains on the second, four grains on the third square and so on, doubling the rice quota on each square until each of the 64 squares had their full amount. The king agreed and ordered his servants to do this. It was to his great surprise that the chessboard quickly filled with rice and then the room and there was still much more to go. The maths of this is rather large and becomes 2 to the power of 63, which doesn’t mean much to most of us, until you put it in the perspective that if each grain of rice were laid end to end, the line would reach to the star Alpha Centauri and back to earth again. That’s a lot of rice!

As with any good parable, it’s not really about grains of rice. It’s showing us that if we don’t deal with our emotional loading on a daily basis it can quickly accumulate into an entirely unmanageable amount. Being that we’re at work for a lot of our lives with all of its expectations, that’s a large portion of our emotional loading right there. Being that most of us work five or six days a week, it’s also pretty constant, especially if you think about how much you think about work when you’re not there. Add those little ‘after hours’ jobs that need doing through our days off (usually digital media) and all of a sudden it’s nearly taking over people’s lives, certainly our minds and that free-thinking space we need just for unwinding and thinking about the things we want to, not work.

Feelings in dreams are important, in fact they’re vital and often give the biggest indications and clues to what the dream is actually about. When feelings linger after waking, take notice… they’re trying to tell you something about what your mind needs to do at the moment. Listen carefully and you will get the answers and solutions you need. Keep seeking, they will find you, they’re your own solutions for you.

Don’t let the emotions from yesterday come into today, you don’t need all that accumulation, it will only impact your creativity, ideas flow, energy levels and everything else you need to make you work day a fun, productive and enjoyable one. Let yesterday go and start the day afresh, find the solutions you need for work, apply them and watch the results, they will be impressive.