Dreams have always fascinated me.
Since I was little, I’ve had vivid, wild, movie-like dreams that often felt more real than reality itself. Sometimes I even lucid dream, which is when one is aware that they’re dreaming and can control the course of events. I toyed with the idea of starting a dream journal for a while, but it wasn’t until very recently that I decided to actually do it. While I wouldn’t consider myself a psychoanalyst (sorry Freud), I do think dreams can offer deep insight into our subconscious and emotions, and they frequently help us cope with real-life events in a surreal, more palatable way.
While it hasn’t been long enough for me to notice any distinct patterns or recurring dreams, that is often a motivator for keeping a dream journal. Patterns in dreams give “observable” insight into patterns of thinking and feeling and recurring themes. These themes, while they may require some decoding, can express ongoing concerns or desires in our waking life.
If you can’t normally remember your dreams, a dream journal can help pull the memories of our sleeping state out and on paper and eventually lead to a heightened awareness of one’s dreams and better retention and memory of them (according to Psychology Today). Any detail, no matter how minute, is valuable and holds importance. This is precisely why keeping the journal is so low-pressure and enjoyable—you’re not obligated to derive a cohesive storyline, but rather you get an outlet to jot down any details you may remember and reflect on them.
Dream analysis is also a fun exercise to try along with documentation (this article from Good Therapy lists some popular methods of dream analysis used in therapy practices). You don’t need to be a scholar of Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung to find meaning in your dreams, especially since your mind created them, and there is likely already deeply personal meaning behind them.
Try this: after jotting down the concrete details of your dream, ask yourself, “Who are the “actors” in the dream?” “What relationship do I have to them, if any?” “What images do I remember most clearly?” “What seemed to be important or a goal in the dream?”
Little by little, you’ll start to figure out more of the puzzle and put the pieces together. Granted, not every dream has to have a deep philosophical meaning, but analyzing one’s dreams can help us realize how we think or feel about something in our lives, no matter how small.
Dreams are a window to the subconscious and a door to introspection. Through dreams, our mind tries to make sense of the chaos of life and gives us a look into our thoughts and feelings, whether overt or repressed. You don’t have to be a psychologist to try to understand your dreams. All you need is a notebook, a writing utensil, and your beautiful, creative, imaginative mind.
Do you keep a dream journal?
No – but I’m starting one right after this article
Nah, not my thing