Hello, Creatives! This month on the Creatively blog I want to talk about dreams and dreaming. We have been exploring energetically this November the actualization of creative visions and goals into reality and our dreams can be an important part of this- so let’s talk more about what they can tell us:
There is a variety of dream theory out there to glean through but for our purposes today we are going to borrow from two major camps: biological dream theory and psychodynamic dream theory. We will label biological dream theory as what is happening neurologically to create dreaming, and we will call psychodynamic dream theory what the creative brain is doing to attribute meaning to these processes to string the events into the story while dreaming and again when recalling a dream while awake.
Loosely described, events that happen to us throughout the day are thrown into the “junk drawer” of our brains, aka, our short term memory. At the end of the day- oftentimes while we are sleeping- we need to clean out the junk drawer and file all the contents away into our long term memory. Biological dream theory generally says that dreams can be explained by the neurological activity that occurs during this filing process- that when we open different drawers in our long term memory, the contents from these filing cabinets may also be accessed to form our dreams. This can account generally for the content of our dreams.
Psychodynamic dream theory has many names and is what you may be familiar with as dream analysis. This is generally more of an art than a science but what is important here is we all have our own individualized thematic system of meaning making both while dreaming and when awake recalling a dream. This can impact how we recall dreams and even how we experience them as they happen to us. Rather than the idea that each part of our dream has a standardized meaning, I believe that the meaning is individualized to the dreamer.
Let’s take these concepts together. Imagine your junk drawer is full of stressful moments from a stressful day that are getting filed into long term memory as you sleep. Your dreams may offer you content like driving with impossible directions, riding in an elevator that is out of control, packing boxes that are never packed. They will have imagery from real life experiences but content from associations that are from your thematic system of meaning making: stress/anxiety. These ideas/concepts will come together to form your dreamscape. The dream will evolve into greater meaning when you remember it and try to make sense of it later while awake.
What does this have to offer your creativity? When you wake you remember packing endless boxes. You feel stressed thinking about the dream. Creative people often report to me recurring thematic dreams like this- “packing dreams” “elevator dreams” “driving dreams” etc. What are these dreams telling you? Cook it back to the biological explanation. It is telling you your system is under stress. Not a recurring dream? What emotional content can you identify? What overarching themes can you identify? What can you connect that generally to in your life? In this way, dreams thematically can connect us with relevant content on our overall state of well being that we might be missing when we are awake and distracted by the literal noise of the day.
We are always more creative when we are emotionally healthier and dreams can be another tool to help us understand and meet our individual needs. They are more pieces of information to help us get to know ourselves and care for ourselves, better. Creative people regularly dream, and dream vividly- so good, bad, or ugly- this is another gift of your creative soul- use it to create your best life!
Want to learn more or struggling with difficult dreams or sleep? I am here to help. Go to the “contact” page to get started!
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The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.