People commonly refer to nightmares as “bad dreams”, but the truth is, there is no such thing as a “bad dream”. In fact, nightmares are often the best dreams of all, in that the scarier the dream theme, the more urgent the message.
Though it’s not much fun to experience such intense fear or to wake up with the sweats, you’ve just received a gift from your unconscious and it’s a golden opportunity to pull out your dream journal. Run through the steps for interpreting your dreams, and then see what the next night brings.
If the dream was so scary that you’re afraid to fall asleep the next night, here’s a tip to get you through it: Either before you retire for the evening or when you’re lying in bed, run through the dream and give it a new ending. That’s right, retell the story with an outcome that leaves you feeling empowered. You might even try drawing the dream and adding to the picture whatever it takes to make you feel less afraid. Then when it’s time for bed, place the drawing on your night table and again rerun the dream with the new story line. If the dream recurs, odds are this time it will present the message to you in a less threatening manner.
If you say to yourself, “Don’t think of a lemon,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Right, a lemon. But if instead you say, “Think of an orange,” then you’ll be able to get your mind off the lemon.
The unconscious sends all sorts of vapors, odd beings, terrors, and deluding images up into the mind – whether in dream, broad daylight, or insanity: for the human kingdom, beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness, goes down into unsuspected Aladdin caves.
– Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces
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