Reccurring Dreams: What Does It Mean to Have a Dream Over and Over Again?
Why Do Dreams Recur?
Dreams reflect a dreamer's feelings, thoughts, unconscious drives, and unfinished business, and allow a dreamer to gain further personal insight, which allows them to further process and resolve issues from their waking life. Dreams and dream work can be a powerful tool for personal growth and goal achievement.
Recurring dreams, whether they are pleasant dreams or nightmares, are very significant to the dreamer. Dreams can reoccur for many reasons. The most likely reason is that the message and purpose of the dream was not received by the dreamer and the issue it highlights is not only unresolved but is not being addressed and is being ignored.
Recurring dreams often turn into nightmares when the dreamer continues to ignore something important in their waking lives. This issue will wait for the dreamer and will not go away, despite the dreamer convincing him/herself that it does not exist. The nightmare is an extreme version of the dream content screaming for the dreamer's attention.
Attempting to Understand Reoccurring Dreams
Understanding the meaning of a dream that recurs for you can be tricky. After all, this dream is likely highlighting an issue you have not attended to and may even be repressing. If you are repressing or denying something within your life or within you, that thing is not going to be the first thing you think of when you begin to explore the meaning of this dream, since your conscious mind is doing a good job of avoiding that idea.
So how do you figure out the meaning? You can start by asking yourself a few questions:
- What have you put off in your life? (Examples: education, a new job, having children, ending a relationship, confronting something or someone, the next step, etc.)
- What problem or facet of life have you not addressed? (Examples: spirituality, faith, emotions, creativity, childhood dreams, goals as an adult, issues with your mom, issues with your dad, issues with another person, issues with your boss, follow up on health issues, etc.)
- What do you feel you do not have control over in your life?
- Review a few suggested interpretations from a dream dictionary (or add a comment to this hub). Do any suggestions jump out at you? If an interpretation feels like it's correct, then it probably is.
- If you are still unable to find a suitable interpretation that gives you that Aha! moment, which possible interpretations did you dismiss and/or appalled you, annoyed you, or evoked other unpleasant emotions? It is hard to confront what you are not confronting, but allow yourself to entertain the idea, just for a few moments, that that particular meaning is correct. It is likely this is the meaning or it is beginning to point you towards a truth you'd rather not face.
How to Stop Having Reccurring Dreams
Always be honest with yourself and confront issues as they come up, in a timely manner.
Obviously, that is easier said than done. If the steps above helped you identify a possible meaning to the dream, then as you address the issue the dream highlights for you, the dream will change, and you will begin to progress through the steps towards resolution. Your dreams will reflect your progress and you may be able to gauge how well you are doing based on the evolution of your dreams.
If you have not found the meaning and are truly stuck, you may try to resolve the issue backwards by working out the dream within the dream. This sounds a bit strange, but just as dreams help us understand and resolve things going on in our waking life, dreams can also help us make changes internally (emotionally, intellectually, etc.) so that we approach situations in our waking life a bit differently, indirectly resolving the issue that created the reoccurring dream in the first place.
Dream Work: How to Resolve Issues Within Dreams
- Encourage dreams by following the steps outlined in this related article about how to remember dreams.
- Once you are a bit more aware of your dreams, you can work towards having a lucid dream. A lucid dream is a dream in which you are aware you are dreaming but continue to sleep. It is within lucid dreams that the dreamer is able to make changes to the dreamscape and willfully affect and participate in their dreams.
- If you are unable to lucid dream (this takes practice and dedication that many do not have the time for), you may also lay down in a quiet, darkened room and remember your dream with your eyes closed. Walk yourself through the dream, visualizing each aspect over and over. Slow the dream down and picture yourself making changes and doing the opposite. Attempt to resolve the dream by changing the story and changing the outcome. Example: if you are dreaming of being chased by something, turn around and face it, look at it, examine it: what is it? Accept that it cannot hurt you, etc. These visualizations may help you affect your dreams which may also help you affect how you are approaching life or situations that are creating issues for you now.
How to Have Lucid Dreams
Lucid dreaming may come naturally for some but takes practice, time, and commitment for most. The first step is becoming more aware of your dreams and recalling more dream content.
- Remembering dreams is the first step (see link above).
- Once you begin to remember dreams often and have vivid dreams, you are closer to having a lucid dream.
- For most people, when they become aware they are dreaming and realize they are sleeping and the dream is not real, they instantly wake up from the dream.
- If your heart rate increases, you will wake up. You may realize you are dreaming, get excited that you are having a lucid dream, and wake yourself up.
- This takes practice but try to remind yourself before you sleep each night that you may realize you are dreaming and still remain in the dream. Remind yourself to stay calm, breathe slowly, and slow down. Prepare yourself to understand you are dreaming and look around your landscape.
- If you are in the reoccurring dream (congratulations, this is where you wanted to be!) only control the parts you need to change. These parts could include facing a monster, grabbing a hold of a steering wheel, warning someone of danger, etc. These changes may affect your reoccurring dream and help you resolve it.
- Controlling every aspect of where you look and what you are doing can feel strange and will often slow down the dream and feel forced. Allow yourself at times to just flow with the dream.
- It is important to continue to identify the part of your life that is producing the dream as well. This should be an ongoing process.
Lucid dreaming, for people who follow the steps and are committed to becoming more aware of their dreams, can take several months to achieve. It may take you even longer to find yourself lucid within the reoccurring dream. This process is clearly not something to expect to complete overnight.
The best way to achieve some sort of resolution for the dream is to begin the visualization exercises listed above. Allowing yourself to avoid the meaning of the dream or put off resolving the issue is negatively reinforcing the reoccurring dream.
It can be uncomfortable and difficult, but tricking yourself to change your approach and perspective on the dream and on situations you are experiencing in your waking life will allow you to begin to resolve the issues you are not confronting.