The Gist Of a Dream Is More Important Than Any Single Detail

present wrapped in a brown paper bag

Sometimes you’ll draw a blank when you wake up and try remembering what you were dreaming about.

Maybe you were woken suddenly and the memory of the dream shatters.

Maybe the details were simply dim.

Whatever the reason, you know you were dreaming and you’re coming blank.

You might only be left with a memory of the central point of the dream, the gist of the thing, and not much else.

That’s better than nothing.

Don’t worry about missing any single detail that’s rocking tantalizing at the cusp of your memory and oblivion. Journal it anyway.

Ask yourself why you were dreaming of that subject. You could have dreamt of anything. Why that?

Sometimes facets of dreams seem intentionally blank

What’s interesting is when the topic of the dream is more relevant to events in the future than events in the past.

When the subconscious is expressing ideas about the future, it often leaves details vague.

Dreams sometimes occur out of context to your current life, seeing, as it were, five or even ten steps ahead, exploring possibilities.

When this happens, some people think that they’re having a precognitive dream, especially when there’s a feeling or experience of deja vu.

Does this happen?

It could, but it doesn’t happen to the extent that one can rely on it.

What’s more likely is that the subconscious is running a simulation and considering what might happen.

Sometimes you get it right.

Sometimes not so much.

The takeaway is to take what you can get as far as details. When analyzing, work with whatever details you’ve got. You’ll be ahead of where you were when it comes to understanding your environment.

Sometimes I’ll write little more than the topic of the dream in my dream journal. If nothing else, it can help me understand what my subconscious was fixed on at a given time. These concerns are important because they frame the seasons of your life.

These seasons are periods of varying duration where you learned something about:

  • Yourself
  • The world around you
  • Others who are/were important to you and how they relate to you

The season changes when something else becomes more important to you or you’ve learned enough of what you’ve needed to.


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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There's gold (figurative) in your dreams.
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