Should you tell someone you dreamed about them last night? Really? Cheryl DeWolfe has some advice.
By Cheryl DeWolfe
Have you ever started to tell a story about a dream to a friend or co-worker then watched their face as you say, “And you were in it, too!” Odds are, it betrays an emotion somewhere between curiosity and panic.
Here’s some free advice: almost no one wants to know they were in your dreams.
There is a tendency for people to be instantly apprehensive because they have absolutely no control over your brain’s manipulation of their image and actions. Were they a bystander or did they have an interaction with the dreamer? Were they cast as the hero or villain? Was there romantic (or, let’s be blunt, sexual) contact? Were they naked? Have you told anyone else?
On top of the potential for social anxieties, consider each individual’s belief about dreams and their interpretation and you can get into some pretty heavy burdens. No matter what you say, they have no way of telling what actually happened in your brain.
To many people, dreams are private and personal; maybe they keep a dream diary or discuss their dreams with their therapist or a close and trusted friend or spouse but it’s almost a taboo to detail your dream — steamy, scary or strange as it may have been — in casual company. What may seem innocent to the dreamer takes on another guise when relayed to involuntary players on the dream’s stage.
Personally, I think of dreams as a brain-dump: a big jumble of images and information that most often are not linked in any way in the real world. This is why the celebrity you saw when you flipped past “Entertainment Tonight” is speaking with the voice of the morning drive announcer or why your boss is eating dinner with your aunt. To me, dreams do not have to make sense. I realize I may be in the minority with that belief.
As far back as the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, humans have been drawing meaning from dreams. Modern dream interpretation has two distinct forks: psychoanalysis which puts the dreamer’s subconscious on trial, and instinct rehearsal which claims dreams serve a natural biological function of practice-makes-perfect . Ask any group of people about dream interpretation and it won’t take long before someone brings up Sigmund Freud whose research implied that almost every dream situation divulged deeply-held fears or desires.
So if you don’t understand that dream you had last night, you’re not alone; neurologists and psychoanalysts are still debating the meaning and purpose of our dreams. We may never know the complete answer, but in the meantime, best to keep it between you and your pillow.
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