Dreams: Divine Wisdom
By Guest Blogger Sadie E. Strick, PhD
The dream is your best friend. Yes, it is! Psyche (the mind) knows, and it brings its powerful messages to you by way of the dream. Why do we dream? Dreaming helps us to maintain balance in our waking state. Dreaming helps us to resolve problems we are currently experiencing. Dreaming helps us to recognize past events that continue to impact on our present lives. Dreaming can foretell future events, and dreaming can compensate for the losses we have experienced in the past and are experiencing in the present.
To understand the nature of the dream and the region of the mind from which the dream emerges, we rely on the works of Sigmund Freund and Carl Jung. Freud was the first person to investigate the nature of the mind. He determined that there are two levels of awareness—conscious and unconscious. In our conscious state, we are awake and aware of our surroundings, our feelings, and our impressions. If we are aware of all this already, what then goes into the unconscious? Freud found that the negative feelings we have (but deny and cannot own) are housed somewhere, but where? You guessed it! Into the unconscious they go. The same is true of emotions. How often can we admit we are angry or frustrated? As a child, the expression of anger is neither validated nor accepted. To contain the anger is often the safest way to go because we are often reprimanded and told that to be angry is bad. We learn to suppress the anger rather than risk punishment or disapproval. What happens to memories that are too horrible to acknowledge? Without our knowing it, we repress these memories. Then, into the unconscious they go! It is as if the event(s) that we repress never happened at all. We honestly do not remember them.
Other inhabitants of the unconscious are our complexes. Think inferiority complex (remember when the popular guy in school got picked for the team and you felt so inept that you did not try for any athletic event—ever; or when the most popular girl in school got elected to be prom queen and you felt so unhappy with your face, hair, etc)? These events can become fixed in the unconscious and make us uncomfortable when we are forced to compete in any way.
There are two sides to everything. Jung says that we are all Jekyll/Hyde. The quiet introverted person will have a dynamic side that is not recognized (Hyde). Conversely, the outgoing extroverted person will have a shy side (Hyde). He called this unlived side the Shadow because it lives in the darkness of the unconscious. Shadow is hidden and represents all that we believe ourselves not to be so we come to believe that it is evil. On the contrary, it is our ticket to wholeness. The dream helps us to recognize it. When the extroverted person learns to be quiet and listen and the introverted person learns to speak up, the shadow is served and the individual is in balance.
In the process of analyzing his own dreams, Jung realized that the images that presented themselves in the dream were not always in the personal experience of the dreamer. He determined that there were two levels of the unconscious—the personal level and a deeper level. He called this level of deep dreaming the collective unconscious because the images were not of any one culture or people but belonged to mankind as a whole. When the dream comes from this deep level of the unconscious, it speaks to us in symbol. A symbol has essentially the same meaning across cultures and is a very powerful message for the dreamer. To dream of symbol that is not in the personal experience of the dreamer is a very important message from the Divine to the dreamer. The task is to determine the meaning of the message and make every effort to follow the instruction of the dream. An example of a collective symbol is a religious object or an animal. There are many, many more. Psyche knows what you need and offers it to you by way of the dream—whether you want it or not. Psyche cannot lie, never sleeps, never needs reprogramming, never needs rebooting and is ever vigilant on your behalf. The gift is yours for the taking!
Sanford, John A., Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language, Harper and Row, San Francisco, 1989.
Lukeman, Alex, What Your Dreams Can Teach You, M. Evans and Co., New York, 2001.
Copyright © 2011 by Sadie E. Strick, PhD
Sadie E. Strick, PhD is a practicing licensed psychologist, specializing in psychodynamic psychotherapy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is author of Troubling Dreams: Unlocking the Door to Self-Awareness