Dreams are like bananas, they come in bunches As you explore dreams over
time, you discover that certain issues and people keep coming back. Even
though every dream is unique, with experience you realize that themes are
recurring. You can detect these repetitions in your dream life even after a
few dreams. As a wealth of “evidence” builds up, you will begin to see a
bigger picture and that changes how you see each individual dream.
At first it is unclear what the connection is. There are no fixed rules to
follow. Sometimes it is obvious: your mother is in most of your dreams.
Sometimes it is more subtle: the first dream may be about two kittens and
the next dream about two children. The next dream will always be different.
It will probably happen in a different location, with other people and
unique circumstances, but there will be a common strand. If bandits chase
you in one dream, it's likely that you'll be chased by a bear in another.
By looking carefully, you'll find that you have just a few themes, maybe
five or six, going on in your dream life. For example, you might have many
dreams about being late, finding yourself lost, getting chased, or falling
down. Regardless of how different the context is, the theme will remain the
Each person's themes stay constant over many years. G. William Domhoff, a
professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, reviewed the dreams
of a woman, "Dorothea," whose dream journal spanned fifty years; that's a
long dream journal. Six themes regularly appeared throughout the fifty
years. Here they are:
What's more, these six themes cropped up in three quarters of all her
- Eating or thinking about food (1 in 5 dreams)
- Losing an object, usually her purse (1 in 6)
- In a small or disorderly room or her room was being invaded (1 in 10)
- Dreams about her mother (1 in 10)
- Toilet dreams (1 in 12)
- Late or missing a bus or train (1 in 16)
In other words, the matters that dominate your dream life now are for keeps.
They are not going away. When you examine a number of your own dreams, 20 or
more, you will see some common issues. This is the bigger picture: the life
you are really living in your dreams.
To put this in perspective, waking life is also divided into themes. Most
people have a work theme, a family theme, perhaps a few hobby or pastime
themes, a childhood theme and so on. And, like dream themes, that's how most
of our time is taken up. Of course, in the summer you will have a vacation
theme, in November there'll be a Thanksgiving theme, in December a Christmas
or Chanukah theme and so on. Sometimes a unique event will happen but then
things go back to the regular themes.
Living with Themes
It's a big deal to me that you are going to be dreaming about the same
matters for the rest of your life. It is like a career or a marriage without
any of the choice. Even worse, most people are unhappy with their “choice”
of dream life. Domhoff has estimated that 80% of dreams contain something
negative or stressful in them. You don't need nightmares to have a seriously
sub-standard dream life. The bottom line is this: Do you want to go through
the rest of your life dreaming the same old thing?
You Can Transform Your Dream Self
The news is not all bad. Even if the themes are lifelong, you can change
your role and your situation in your various relationships.
If you are always arguing with your mother, that can change so that you
enjoy your mother's company even if your mother-theme continues for the rest
of your life. You can “educate” your dream mother and show her better ways
If you are always looking for food, you can turn that around so that you
have food in your dreams.
You might be a man who continually dreams about conflicts with other men.
When you work on these dreams with Dream RePlay, you will typically find
that the fighting diminishes, instead of guns and knives, opponents use
fisticuffs and, as the intensity diminishes, they simply argue with you
until finally you will encounter cooperation with men in your dreams.
If you are fearful of flying, the fear can be converted into pleasure.
The task of Dream RePlay is to transform your dream life and that means
enjoying your themes rather than being overwhelmed by them. I want to change
your dream life so that you continuously place yourself in the role of hero
or heroine. The desired result is that the dream-You has more confidence in
difficult situations and is more present to the dream thrills.
The Gift of a Dream Group
To truly transform an issue, it is best to give yourself at least three
months. I strongly recommend weekly participation in an ongoing dream group.
It is harder to achieve major changes on your own. One of the special
benefits of being in a group is that the participants are great at holding
each other's dreams in their memory banks. Often someone will tell a dream
and other people will make connections to previous dreams. You can then see
the progress you are making and you become highly aware of the core issues
that still dissatisfy you. My own clients have had amazing success in
dealing with issues about romantic relationships, relationships with their
own self-care, relationships with family members, etc.
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