I have encountered many conversations with people where they tell me about a dream they had, and shrug it off as if it were nothing. “It’s just a dream,” they’ll say.  To which I immediately respond, “Oh no it’s not!!” Here’s why:

Dreams are a very interesting feature of the human mind. Every dream you have ever had has the very same roots, causes, and components that, if you are aware, can be seen and traced back to your daily life.

PURPOSE: The major purpose of dreams is to resolve unfinished thoughts left over from the day before. They occur every night, but we only remember certain ones for their strange nature, desirable experience, or fearful story lines.

CONTENT: The content of a dream is mostly determined by the unfinished thought processes left over in your brain from the day before. For instance, a dream about a brown cow riding on a boat, may have derived from a commercial you saw on TV that day about a brown cow and from watching the movie Titanic.

However, these thoughts only make it to your dream because you were interrupted whileyou were thinking about them. So, like any good computer, your brain takes the incompleted thought and moves it to a folder to be dealt with later.

The Janitor

While you are dreaming, your brain is collecting all the unfinished thoughts from the day before. Perhaps most importantly, however, it is collecting the small, seemingly insignificant and unresolved thoughts and superimposing them onto a story that makes sense to you, at the time (during the dream, your brain accepts the story in context, when you wake up, and logic is applied, it stops making sense).

Now that your brain has a story to associate those loose thoughts with, they  can be stored as a single memory (the dream’s storyline), rather than a bunch of scattered details. So, essentially, this is the janitor of the mind. He’s going around, picking up little unfinished art projects, personal issues, and puzzling ideas and mashing them all together into a story.

How this can help you

Now that you understand your dreams for what they are, what can you take away from them? How can you answer the age-old question, what do my dreams mean? Well, try this one. When you wake up, try your HARDEST to recreate the storyline in your head (I have done this many times myself, and it WORKS). As you begin to remember each detail, try to see if anything about it relates to something that happened to you in the last few days. It is highly likely that you will notice SOME correlation.

Now, if there is something dramatic or traumatizing in any of your dreams, focus on it!These are the parts of your dreams that will help you see what you are NOT dealing with in your everyday life. If you are avoiding thinking about a possible career change, it is likely that will manifest itself as a dream about some sort of drastic setting change. For instance, your dream may take place in what you understand to be China, even though your job is really only moving you to St. Louis. This is because, to YOU, moving to St. Louis may feellike moving to China. Therefore, in order to deal with that left over thought, a story that takes place in China is plausible. So, look inside your own dreams, and try to see what they are telling you. They are telling you what you are avoiding thinking about, and that is usually something that SHOULD be dealt with. Once dealt with, happiness and ease can follow.

The Take-away

Listen to your dreams. Understand them. Then understand yourself. No problem can be solved without first understanding it.