Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s NY Times bestseller “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” (Three Rivers Press, 2011)
As a psychiatrist, I believe that dreams provide extraordinary insights into improving your health, relationships and career. I consult my dreams for all important decisions using a technique that I describe in "Emotional Freedom" and below. You'd be surprised by the invaluable advice that your dreams give, either spontaneously or on request.
Science magazine reports that sleeping on a problem, which results in "unconscious thought," can lead to smarter decisions than over-thinking -- especially when it comes to important choices. For instance, if you're going crazy analyzing the pros and cons of a relationship, the Science study suggests that that won't get you very far; rather, it proposes that you think less and sleep on the dilemma, to give your subconscious an opportunity to solve the problem.
I subscribe to the "sleep on it" school of decision-making, which involves drawing on the wisdom of dreams. Why do we dream? To find answers, resolve emotional conflicts and discharge negativity, as well as to stabilize our biochemistry and mood. However, to me, another interesting question is why we wake up. Native American and Aboriginal cultures revere dream-time over waking life; they base tribal law on information obtained there. The Maoris believe that when we die, we return to the dream world. Kalahari Bushmen say, "There is a dream, and it is dreaming us." So, in your own life, your dreams can contain advice that goes beyond the Annals of Internal Medicine.
How To Remember And Interpret Your Dreams
I recommend the following 5 strategies to remember your dreams:
Try this every day for a week. Keep at it. You are programming your subconscious to remember. Soon it will become second nature to you.
How do you interpret dreams? One key is to notice the most highly charged emotion in the dream -- for instance, anger, fear or joy. Next, ask yourself, "Where in my life am I feeling these emotions?" Then, consider how you can heal the situation or else celebrate a success. In addition, here are some common dreams and their interpretations.
A Guide To Interpreting Common Psychological Dreams (From Emotional Freedom)
Dreams About Your Fears, Anxieties and Insecurities:
Dreams Affirming Your Strengths, Emotional Achievements and Largeness of Spirit:
Dreams let you pinpoint an emotional conflict so that you can solve it. For instance, if you're standing naked before a group of jeering co-workers, ask yourself, "Might I have feelings of being exposed or berated at work?" Then take steps to feel more protected in that environment. Or if, in a dream, you're wandering aimlessly, consider, "Where am I lost in my life, and how can I find my way?" Also, it's crucial to honor the messages of encouragement that dreams send. Emotional freedom comes from removing blocks as well as acknowledging your own clarity and power.