Upsetting dreams, believe it or not, are a strangely wrapped gift. Scary, vivid dreams don’t look like a gift or feel like a gift…but they are! They’re just strangely wrapped. You’d think sleeping would give you a break from OCD, but that’s not the case for many. If you’re having upsetting dreams that’s great news! They can guide you to peace! Here are three clever strategies to turn your worst nightmares into bliss.
- Unpleasant dreams could be a sign that in your wakeful life you’re avoiding something. For example, I have this recurring dream about a gang of teenagers breaking into my house. They never harm me and I’m not afraid of them. I’m frustrated that they’re violating my personal space. This sort of dream makes me think about who I need to set a boundary with in my wakeful life. The content of your dream may or may not have anything to do with what you need to confront. So, don’t spend too much time analyzing your dream. OCD already has you analyzing way too much, so don’t add something new! Remember, the idea is to get out of your head and into your life! For quick ideas you can use an online dream interpreter. Action: Figure out what you need to face and begin to confront it. Once you do you will feel empowered by your victory and relieved of catastrophic thinking.
- You may be able to get out of a nightmare by hacking into the dream. People who are self-reflective during waking hours have a greater ability to change the course of a bad or frustrating dream. This means while dreaming you can tell yourself “it’s just a dream” or you can even stand up to who or whatever is causing you angst in the dream. In fact, people who self-reflect have a greater ability to shake off a bad dream upon awakening. Here’s why: Self-reflection helps grow gray matter in the brain. That can come in pretty handy for people with OCD who have gray matter deficiencies! Why do you need gray matter? Because it helps control your perception of what is happening around you, including in a dream state. Be more self-reflective and you will be better able to hack into a bad dream or squelch a bad dream hangover. Action: Take 10 minutes every day to reflect. Here are 3 powerful reflections to help grow gray matter so that you can change the course of a bad dream, and especially the direction of your life:
- But, what if you can’t control your thoughts when you’re asleep any better than you can when you’re awake? Your dreams can be extremely vivid as a result of the side effects of medication or other brain chemistry changes. If you’re dreading going to bed because you are worried about having more bad dreams, it’s probably better to surrender and say, “And so it will be.” Be willing to go for the ride. Be willing to have unpleasant dreams the same way you must be willing to have unwanted, intrusive thoughts when you are awake. Metaphorical Action: Instead of trying to push the beach ball down to the bottom of the swimming pool, let it surface. Let the ball float around you and do nothing about it. This takes less energy and frees up your arms. Treat your bad dreams in the same manner. In fact, treat your unwanted intrusive thoughts this way. It’s much more peaceful to accept than resist.
So in summary here are the three actionable steps you can take to turn your worst nightmares into bliss:
- Make sure you are facing your fears during times you are awake.
- Be more self-reflective.