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Dream of the Month (May 2004)
Dr. Holloway's Comments:
Striking characteristics – when normally harmless creatures or settings seem ominous, this may reflect some undercurrent of anxiety in the dreamer’s daily life.
Sporadically recurring dreams that span years or decades may operate as a kind of shorthand for our Achilles heel, or a longstanding uncertainty. When current stressors poke at old wounds or enduring fears, we can have dreams that seem unwarranted in their intensity or dark tone. These dreams spotlight worries that may seem irrelevant or outdated if we examined them consciously. Around the time the dream began, you may have been subjected to a set of stressors that you were unable to manage, or which you had no choice about. As an adult, when changes ripple through at a certain angle, this could trigger the similar dizzy subjective sense of having no choice, or being hit by a wave of seemingly unrelated feelings.
It is possible to alter a recurring nightmare by writing down the dream, and altering the ending to a more safe and satisfying resolution. If you want to do this, write the dream like a story, change the ending, and then, in your mind, move through the improved dream 4 times. For many people this reworking technique (formulated by Dr. Barry Krakow) has proven effective in stopping the nightmare. On a different front, you may want to explore lifestyle and self-supporting techniques that are not your style, such as going to groups and classes, sharing with friends, learning new ways to deal with stress. Sometimes very small adjustments make huge differences in the old “stuck” places that we’ve outgrown. Don’t give up, and don’t be self-critical. Recurring dreams can be sign-posts to levels of wellness and freedom we all deserve, if we take the time to reflect upon them in this light.