(excerpted from the audio cassette That Dream Again!: The Meaning of Recurring Dreams)
Recurring dreams can be extremely informative and important to decipher. Your subconscious mind has gone to a great deal of trouble to send the same "dream telegram" several times, and it will generally continue to do so until you recognize the insight being offered, or outgrow the issue being addressed. Often these dreams recur for a discrete period of time, such as during childhood, adolescence, college years, or during a specific relationship or period of employment. If you outgrow or move away from a certain lifestyle you may stop having the recurring dream, unless something in your current situation strikes a similar emotional chord from your past; then the dream may resurface, like an emotional "home movie" of certain feelings and moods.
Recurring dreams often come about for one of two reasons:
Recurring Dreams Try to Problem-Solve: In many recurring dreams we are attempting to resolve a problem; these attempts may help slightly, be laughably ineffectual, or make matters worse. These attempted solutions often reflect the manner in which we are trying to go about matters in waking life. It is important to identify the part of your life that is being reviewed in the dreams, but it is also important to examine the way you respond during the dream action. You may notice that you are waiting in a line where you will never be served, or that you are zealously trying to chop wood with a butter knife. Recurring dreams shed light on things we're missing while we are awake; sometimes we can see we are barking up the wrong tree, and other times we are given clues toward a more workable solution.
- First, the dreamer has a recurring pattern in waking life that has not been consciously recognized. These dreams replay an objectively honest, though highly dramatized picture of some behavior or tendency that has an ongoing impact on current circumstances. A woman who chronically gave too much of herself dreamed repeatedly that she was a caterer, although she had never worked in the hospitality field. A man with an uncontrolled temper dreamed he carried a sword with which he beheaded anyone who crossed him. A woman who married into a rigid, old-fashioned family and tried to accommodate their restrictions had a series of dreams set in Nazi concentration camps. Like many recurring themes, these dreams reflected current conditions waking life, and illustrated the ways in which these people contributed to the very things that troubled them.
- A second common connection with recurring dreams is a cyclical area of unresolved feelings or concern for the dreamer. People who have suffered abuse, trauma, injury or loss will frequently have recurring dreams about their painful experience which lessen in frequency and intensity over time. Any type of personal grief, loss, or anxiety can have a ripple effect that makes us feel vulnerable, and unable to adequately control the elements of life. When faced with any experience similar to the area of loss or threat from the past, we may dream again of the lover who left us at the alter, the teacher who ridiculed our speech, or the childhood friend we haven't seen in years.
You Are the Authority on Your Dreams: Whatever your recurring dream, you can assume it is reflecting something in your current life situation, even if the dream takes you back in time. Presuppose there is something useful and constructive within your recurring dreams, and examine the action and setting from a metaphorical perspective. These dreams can reflect the pieces of your life in a more meaningful whole, so sort through their action carefully. Examine the common dream themes to stimulate your personal associations to dream imagery, but remember, these descriptions are strong probabilities, not rules. You are the best judge of what your dreams reveal.