What active dreams and nightmares tell us about ourselves

When we are dreaming, how we react or response would give us a good indication of our core character and innermost values.

This is because during dreaming, we are no longer using our rational and logical mind. The emotions, words and reaction comes from our subconscious, which is the innermost of our being.

In our daily interaction with people, we can be friendly and behave like a saint that no one could fault us. However, in our dreams with we find ourselves constantly angry with triggered, blaming people and shouting at people when we are late to catch a flight or could not complete a deadline…. then perhaps it is time to look deeper.

It may not be necessary to look at the situations or the people that appeared in your dream. It is more useful to reflect on our reactions to situation and scenarios in our dreams.

Then from there, make the conscious effort to change from within. As we become authentic and genuine, the way we react in our dream would start to be similar to the way we react in real life.

My experience

For more than 20 years, I always have active dreams (writen about this many years ago in a post) . Most of the people who appeared in my dream are not people I recall ever meeting in this life.

But in the dreams, it would seem as though I know those people.

Sometimes it felt as it I am living a parallel life. Like in waking hours I would be who I know of, live in the world that I know of. But when I am asleep, it is as though I went to live another life.

The thing is, often in these dreams there would be stressful situations or just those people there pushing my buttons. I get a lot of dreams of having to sit for exams but did not know about it and hence never studied for it, or realizing very last minute I need to catch a flight and doing my best to rush to airport.

Or there would be people who talk to irritate me. Or sometimes trying to hide as someone is looking for me and I know my life is danger if he finds me. The part where someone is looking and trying to kill me was always the same guy, a dream from time to time since my teenage years.

All these dreams had triggered feelings of anxiety, fear and anger.

In my waking life, I can be good at holding things together, able to work through stress and tight deadlines but in my dreams, my reactions are often very different.

At first I wondered why I had all these kinda reactive dreams. I asked a religious organization and was told I travel to the ghost realm when asleep and got disturbed so doing some ritual chanting would help. I was also told to wash my feet each night in salt water before sleeping.. I even wore amulets when I am sleeping.

But none of it work. The active dreams and nightmares still continued. So I would wake up on most days feeling that I have not slept at all. As if I returned from somewhere far away.

When I changed my outlook, so did the way I reacted in my dreams changed

I resigned from my corporate job in 2017 to look after mother full time after she had a fall, liver cirrhosis and early dementia. After I left the job, a lot of the daily battles that I had to fight in my job evaporated. The dreams still continued but less frequently as they did.

Deep within, I was still the same person. I did not change in the beginning.

Then something quite traumatic happened and I turned to my spiritual practice to help me let go, forgive and remain as calm as I can. Once that incident passed, then I have others that came out which triggered old emotions and some maladaptive response mechanism I had developed during childhood.

The dreams started coming but they were not as intense as during corporate world. I realized the only way out was working through all my inner issues. When I overcome one hurdle, then the next, next came. This seemed to be the way my life is, I often have to face what I try to run away from.

At one stage I saw the damage of maladaptive coping mechanisms have on my life and the people around me. It is not about them, how they treat me and any external situation. It was the defensive and negative ways that I have chosen to react.

As I strengtened my own practice and reminded myself not to blame others or external circumstances, things begin to change slowly.

In the dreams, when I got triggered by people, I gradually stop reacting to them. I did not get angry. When I dream I walked into an examination hall totally unprepared, I could tell myself, it is okay, worse is fail and I tried to remain calm. When I was missing a flight, I still tried my best to make it but know if I were to miss it then I would try to catch another one.

I had mentioned earlier I had dreamed of a man who constantly look for me and wanted my life. I used to be afraid in the dream and looking for places to hide. Few months ago, in a dream I actually stopped hiding, confronted him and sent him compassionate thoughts. I was surprised, but he cried in the dream. Since then, I did not dream of him coming for my life.

All our reactions in the dream cannot be willed and controlled. We are who we are deep down, in the very core and essence.

We may not be clear of who we really are because we have numbed, shut suppressed these feelings. When we do not feel good, we go online, watch Nexflix or engage in addictive or destructive behaviours. So these emotions get suppressed and would be re-enacted in our dreams.

By looking at these dreams, focus on our own reactions and not the external situation or character. Let’s say we thought ourselves as kind people but in our dreams we go around killing people, then we need to examine deep down who we are inside.

Do not judge if we do not like what we see. Instead, be willing to change, let go, to forgive and not to blame others or external circumstances. Slowly, we will find we get less nightmares and more peaceful sleep.

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