My very first post here on girlheartbooks was called ‘Let’s talk about dreams’ because I love dreaming and it’s a very important part of my writing process. I also teach other people how to harness the power of their dreams.
A lot of people who come to my workshops say they don’t think they dream very much, although science shows that we all do dream, every single one of us, every single night. Some people think they only have bad dreams, so they’re not sure they want to remember any more, but they don’t really only have bad dreams – it’s just that bad dreams are the ones we’re most likely to remember.
With bad dreams, we often wake up right in the middle of the action, teetering on the high rickety bridge, or running away from the huge lion, or standing up to give a presentation and realising we haven’t got any clothes on. We’re lying there in bed, breathing fast, heart thumping, senses on high alert, feeling as if we haven’t woken up because we’re still in the dream.
Creative dreamers do what writers do – they create a happy ending. So instead of lying there waiting for the dream to fade, they imagine they’re back in the dream and take control, bringing the dream-story to a satisfying conclusion.
If you always treat your nightmares in this way, several interesting things happen. One is that your dreams feel less scary, and you start to remember more. The other is that your dreams really do become less scary, because you start to resolve bad dream situations within the dream, without having to wake up. It’s like you’ve cleared a trail consciously towards happy endings and your dreams start to follow it all on their own.
You don’t have to wait until you have a bad dream to try this out. You can write down a nightmare you’ve had before and then keep on writing to create a satisfying ending. It doesn’t have to be realistic – which is just as well, since dreams are pure imagination. So you can grapple or tame that lion, or reel back and remember to get dressed before you have to give that presentation. It doesn’t have to take long, either – just a few moments of imagining.
Everyone has nightmares and most of us have particular nightmare situations. For example, I rarely dream about being chased, or drowning, or getting lost, and I’ve never dreamt about failing an exam – if I have a scary dream it’s most likely to be about falling from high places.
What are your most common scary dreams?