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The Role of Dreams...in Self-Understanding and Emotional Health

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

In the midnight hour, when the world is hushed and our conscious minds have logged off, we embark on a journey into the subconscious, a place where dreams become our guides. But what are dreams, if not nocturnal tales spun by our minds?


They might seem mysterious, whimsical, or even nonsensical, but their role in our emotional health and self-understanding is as real as the daylight.


The Theater of Dreams


Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, referred to dreams as the "royal road to the unconscious." And he wasn't alone in that sentiment. Carl Jung, another seminal figure in psychology, perceived dreams as messages from the self to the self. Indeed, our dreams are not merely nighttime entertainment, but an expressive stage where suppressed emotions, unresolved issues, and unfulfilled desires come out to play. The Language of Dreams


Dreams speak in symbols, often portraying complex emotions and thoughts through vivid, sometimes bizarre imagery. Take, for example, Ava DuVernay, an influential filmmaker, who has spoken about how her dreams inform her creativity and self-understanding. She once dreamt of flying above a maze, which she later interpreted as her need to rise above confusion and uncertainty in her life. Dreams and Emotional Health

Researchers at Harvard Medical School suggest that dream recall can serve as an emotional coping mechanism. For instance, dreaming about a stressful event can help reduce the intensity of the related emotional response in waking life. Dreams can be a safe space to confront fears or rehearse responses to challenging situations.


Harnessing the Power of Dreams

While deciphering dream symbols can be complex, numerous services and resources can assist in this fascinating self-exploration. Organizations like the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) offer educational resources, and professionals like dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg provide one-on-one consultations.


Ultimately, the role of dreams in self-understanding and emotional health is significant. By paying attention to our dreams, we open a dialogue with our subconscious, thereby gaining deeper insights into ourselves and our emotions.

Tips to Better Understand Your Dreams


Keep a Dream Journal: Document your dreams as soon as you wake up. This helps capture details that can quickly fade and can be a useful tool for analysis

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Reflect on the Emotions: Try to recall how you felt during the dream. Often, the emotions experienced in dreams are more telling than the dream narrative itself.


Look for Personal Symbols: Not all dream symbols have universal meanings. A dog might mean loyalty to some, but to someone bitten by a dog in childhood, it could represent fear.

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