- Mental Health
Under Pressure to Dream
To Dream or not to Dream -- Is There a Choice?
What Do You Have Coming Up Soon?
There may be an appointment or a major life-change coming up in your future, which was the cause of a dream that you remember as very vivid and emotion-producing. Often the emotion will be one of fear or frustration. These feelings mirror real life, or what you imagine life will be like in the near future.
A news story on the Internet, TV, or in the papers can make someone anticipate similar things happening to him or her, if the impact of the story is truly significant and powerful enough to make us imagine what it would be like in that situation. Many times a frightening event will captivate the whole country. It may be a killing that takes place in a school, or some other type of terror or tragedy. This could be enough to make someone dream.
We could end up with nightmares easily just from thinking about the possibility of ever witnessing something terrible that has been on the news, whether it's a bad car accident or some other event that evokes a fear of sudden tragedy coming into our lives without any warning.
When police are involved in a news story, there usually will be a common thread on which most of the public can identify. We can not help what our imagination will bring up when we see or read about something outrageous or, for example, a situation where kindness or consideration could have saved the day, but instead we hear about people acting callously or belligerently toward others instead of trying somehow to save them from the path of destruction.
It's possible that a news story will make us dread being in the position of witnessing helplessly the violent death of another person. We might dread being an eyewitness to a tragedy resulting in accidental or other sudden death.
Assuming most dreams have a connection with something we anticipate or dread in the future, a dream that's frightening and sad shows we might be anticipating being with someone who has sustained a great loss, possibly a death in the family, or the death of a close acquaintance.
Many times our dreams might be about things that are far more personal to us than what we first imagined when we heard about a true story or thought about a situation evoked by some communication that struck us as significant either the day before the dream or sometimes months before.
When dreams are frustrating is when we feel defenseless. If we dread a future event, it would be logical to be afraid of the sadness that might arise if we have turmoil or tragedy on our minds. When innocent people suffer and we hear about it, we may work into our dreams the frustration of not being able to help or prevent some tragedy from happening.
Even if we have no fear of something so blatantly threatening as a cold-blooded murder or reckless, hateful killing, we still might be anxious about the possibility of an accident or injury from a sudden impulse or chain of events that cannot be stopped in time to save the victim.
In our dream we might be the one responsible, holding the life of another human being in our hands and doing our best to protect him or her from danger. As we sleep, we feel frustrated because the threat never seems to leave. Instead we may feel responsible for saving people from their demise. We fear that we'll be incapable of saving the victim, who sometimes may be ourselves.
Whatever in our conscious future causes us to be apprehensive or anxious about being in a situation where we might see people threatened can cause us to dream like this. Someone might dream of being a soldier going into combat or a police officer in a gang neighborhood, or possibly a nurse in a hospital where patients might die suddenly.
In a frustration dream that includes an element of terror, we might be incapable of doing anything to stop an accidental injury or sudden violence that takes people by surprise.
Happily, most dreams are not so melodramatic in their content but nevertheless just as powerful. We might dream of missing a plane. This anxiety alone is one of the most common fears in real life. It's a big reason airline travel isn't entirely fun, especially getting to the airport on time.
A very important part of modern life is reading, which can be used as another example of dreams based on anxiety over a future possible situation. Often a message sent to us by email or text can have great personal importance. Our heartbeat increases as we read the message. It may be the results of an exam or a message from someone who wields power over us. What if something were to happen either to us or the media that makes it impossible for us to read the message? This would produce a frustration dream compounded by fear.
Many times we can't find something important in our home. We look everywhere and start to get fearful that maybe our memory loss is severe. We lose faith in ourselves. We imagine having to explain to others that we can't find this document or object, and possibly they will not believe us or will lose faith in our abilities. Thus, the frustration and fear can manifest in a dream. When we awaken, we are quite happy it was only a dream. It puts things in perspective and really can help us relax more about life.
Instead of specific things, there may be only a vague general feeling of frustration that we are experiencing in life. But the topic of frustration may be vital, such as a marriage or a career. We may be angry and disappointed, but we can't seem to think of anything to do about the situation. While there may be one particular person who is blocking our progress, this usually isn't the case. It's more of a general feeling of helplessness. Finally we dream of a setting that may be strange but still bears some resemblance to reality. When we awaken, we feel better and more relaxed.
We have an expression, "In your dreams." It implies that dreams fulfill our longings. However, the opposite still may be true. The dream does benefit us even when it's a frustration dream or a clearly frightening nightmare. But to take advantage of the potential benefit, we should stop and think about what anxiety might have caused this dream. If there really is nothing we can do about the dread we are feeling, then it's just part of life. We have to be tough enough to live with the stress until the dreaded event passes, or until we can divert our attention to something we can do something about instead of something we can't.
"Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care"
Worries Resolved Through Sleep
William Shakespeare, about 400 years ago, published the line, "Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care," glorifying something people do every day.
Ironically, worrying prevents the very act (sleep) that can help tremendously, just as sometimes a headache is an excuse not to be intimate, when in fact it might help with the headache.
People get sad and anxious. Worry is part of life. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. In this case, getting out is through napping. Sleep not only helps to rest the body physically, but also can repair frustrations and worries that plague a mind.
But good sleep should be natural. Alcohol, antidepressants, sedatives, and the like often don't produce the best sleep with the maximum results.
But what if sleep is disrupted? That too is part of life. It's better to have some sleep than none at all, although of course a complete sleep all the way through to a natural wake-up would be ideal. If only life were ideal, but it isn't.
The worst type of worrying is a double-edged worry that incorporates not only a specific cause of anxiety in real life, but also the added worry about not being able to sleep in the first place. This has been the demise of at least 2 famous people: Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson. Marilyn was worried about causing so much stress for co-star Clark Gable by being late for work that she took too many sleeping pills because of her secondary worry that she couldn't seem to fall asleep on time in order to get up and be there for filming early in the morning. Michael, at age 50, was worried he couldn't do the fancy dance steps he did when he was younger, but also was worried that unless he got to sleep and had a good long sleep, he wouldn't be at his best for rehearsals for the upcoming performance scheduled in England before the queen and the rest of the audience. He too took pills out of desperation to try to get to sleep.
These beloved entertainers left the world with a valuable lesson. It was their gift to humanity to tell people about the dilemma that has so much to do with dreaming and the inevitable pressures of life and its stressful psychological hurdles.
Outside of pills, exercise and hard physical work often serve to relax and take the mind off frustrating anxieties that nothing can help. Only sleep, welcomed after a hard physical job is completed, can come to the rescue at times when nothing else helps. The worries will remain real, even after someone wakes up. But they will be seen in a broader context, put into perspective, and not so magnified out of proportion that they seem overwhelming.