I woke up the other night, believing that the dream I had was totally real. I even told myself that I needed to go wash my hands. Then I chuckled at the dream my brain had developed to help me process what was happening in my life. Our brains are very inventive and our subconscious (where much of our dream content is produced) loves to communicate in symbols.
Of course, I know I’ve piqued your interest in what this dream was about from that little introduction. I will share later. First, I want to talk about the purpose of dreaming. I like to say we dream for about 3 different reasons (of course, I’m sure there could be more, but I prefer to keep things in neat little categories when possible).
Reason #1: To Process The Events Of The Day/Recent Past
I like to think of our brains as having a little scientist inside, who also performs administrative duties, like filing away memories and information gathered during the day. As you move through your day, you are gathering information from everywhere, whether or not you are aware of doing so. Our mind is active at night, processing what has happened during the day and our recent past. The scientist is filing away all of that information gathered throughout the day into the appropriate files for safe keeping. So, for example, if you are leaving a doctor’s office and 2 people in the waiting area are discussing the most recent flavor of Oreo cookies as you leave, you may have a dream that night that you have discovered the world’s largest double stuffed cookie. Though you did not consciously acknowledge this conversation or actively participate in it, it was picked up by your brain and needs to be filed away neatly, usually while you are sleeping.
Reason #2: To Practice For the Future
You can look up the research yourself, but reason number 2 for dreaming is to practice events or skills that we use in our waking life, which can actually improve our performance. The examples I give of this are having dreams about work related tasks, or if you have been playing a game or doing an activity that day and it shows up in your dreams later, you are practicing. Some research shows that performance is actually improved the following day if a practice dream occurs. Like I said, look it up yourself.
I also group dreams that have the theme “what would I do if…” in this category. Like, what would I do if someone broke into the house or I forgot my lines in the school play? I think dreams that are connected to our primitive mind can go in this category also (i.e. animals chasing us, which is something our ancestors truly had to worry about).
Reason #3: Your Unconscious Mind Is Sending You A Message
This is the category everyone loves the most. This is the Sigmund Freud “The Interpretation of Dreams” kind of stuff. These are the dreams that bother you all day long. Where you ask yourself “what does it all mean?” Those are the dreams that you should look into and see what your unconscious mind might be saying to you.
There are symbols in those dreams. Some of which are universal symbols — like if you had a dream about a light bulb turning on, most people would say that represents having an idea. Then there are symbols that are unique to you — things that mean something to you personally but not necessarily anyone else. Those are a little harder to identify and that may be a whole different blog post. In the meantime, I love this site for looking up meanings: DreamMoods.com
So, back to my dream I promised to share. I dreamed that I was in the bathroom of the house where I grew up. I don’t know why but all of a sudden the toilet started spewing feces everywhere. I mean it was coming out like a water out of a pot that is boiling over. I was trying desperately to contain the feces; to corral it if you will. But to no avail. That was it. I woke up briefly and remember thinking “don’t touch your face with your hand because it’s got poop on it” and went back to sleep. When I woke up again, I realized that the dream was just a dream and that’s when I began laughing. Immediately I knew that my brain was processing my feelings around all the “shit I’m trying to manage.” I’ve got my job, and a doctorate that I’m working on, and my personal life and a million other things that I’m trying to manage and Monday I was feeling like it was a lot; a lot of shit. My brain responded by illustrating that feeling in that dream. Isn’t our mind a wonderful thing?
Until next time! Sending you peace, love and happiness,