Keeping a dream journal may make you feel vulnerable.
You have to keep the journal by your bedside. It has to be easy to write them down in order to have the best chance to catch them with a pen and paper.
Unfortunately, the journal is there for anyone who goes into your bedroom to read unless you’re very careful to hide it or lock it up in some way every morning. Sometimes dreams are embarrassing. If not embarrassing, hard to explain to others. After all, they utilize symbols that are only apparent to you.
Teasing can sting. Looking like a fool sucks. The dream journal can be one more opening for others to tease or make you look like a fool.
Some families and groups of friendships are like this. They teach you to project an aura of strength, to cover your ass.
Make no mistake that there are benefits to this approach. You get very good at coming up with comebacks. You learn to look and act in a way that quickly inspires confidence.
Unfortunately, this approach also has drawbacks as everything does. You can miss the nuance in situations. You tend to miss social cues. You can also forget the “why” about things and that can cause dilemmas all their own.
Other times, it’s not really other people that shape your attitude about writing down your dreams. Sometimes they really don’t care about your interior life. You’re just lazy and writing your dreams down is one more way to save yourself work.
Forgetting to put it away makes you feel vulnerable like you’re going to have a whole lot to answer for if someone gets their hands on your journal.
People are good at rationalizing. You might rationalize writing your dreams down isn’t necessary.
While you realize there’s a lot of good information about elements of your life in your dreams, maybe you figure it’s enough to have the dream, review it in your mind and move on.
This is a mistake.
Writing dreams down lets you move on
Writing dreams down allows you to move on from whatever the dream is about. It’s an essential part of the processing that goes on between the subconscious and conscious mind. If you don’t write the dream down then you might end up going over the same material again and again.
Not writing them down leads to stagnation.
Look at it this way: have you ever had a day when you had a lot to do? E-mails to write, calls to make, people to see, places to be at a certain time?
Add to that, there are other things you try to make time to do every day. Personal hygiene, reading for a half-hour, maybe exercise, conjugating French verbs. Whatever. They’re the things you know you should do for personal development.
Add these activities together. How do you remember to do them all? You write some kind of list.
Maybe you have a system. Perhaps you have a journal where you keep one group of activities as daily goals, and others as weekly goals. Maybe your system is just a to-do list. Without the list, you can forget to do some of the things.
The list frees your mind to work on getting things done. It provides organization so you know that after you fill out the form you’ve got a call to make and then a place to be. It prevents you from focusing on a few things.
That doesn’t mean that the list doesn’t grow throughout the day. As you go, items sometimes get added to the list. They’re added faster than you can take them off.
Dream journaling is like this. As you go through life, you resolve one thing and then another thing presents itself complete with symbolism. Your dreamtime concerns can turn from yourself, to others, to the dynamics of a group you belong to, and then back to yourself. Some nights you might be focused on the how, and on other nights the why.
Writing lists and reflections might be the whole reason why people developed written language in the first place. The Code of Hammurabi is an ancient list of 282 laws and punishments spread across several different artifacts from Babylonia. You can imagine that grew out of a desire to be consistent in administering punishments to people for similar offenses. The judge didn’t want to screw up. The Babylonian king had to adjust his judgment based on the offender’s social class and sex. In his environment, there were a lot of permutations to consider.
Subsequent generations codified laws and then moved on, codifying others. Laws are the result of lessons society has learned. When you think about it, it’s similar to the lessons we learn as we move through life.
Use written language as the tool it was meant to be. Dream, grow, and move on to the next lesson as you were meant to do.
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James Cobb, RN, MSN, is an emergency department nurse and the founder of the Dream Recovery System. His goal is to provide his readers with simple, actionable ways to improve their health and maximize their quality of life.
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