Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Taking Charge of Your Nightmares

When I was in college, my Intro to Pysch prof made us keep dream journals because he wanted us to learn to control our dreams. (Yes, we all thought he was certifiable. And sadly he was tenured and spent most of his time talking about Native American dream catchers and not Freud et al.) Despite the 500 of us diligently, or not so diligently, writing down our dreams, none of us learned to control them.

It’s a cool idea though. I’d especially like to control my nightmares. When I have them, I wake up drenched in sweat. And often when I fall back to sleep I end up in the same nightmare. I did learn to “finish” my nightmares when I woke up and that usually keeps me from going back into the nightmare. So if I was being pursued and my legs were frozen and I couldn’t move or scream, I finish the dream by being able to run/scream/shoot/etc. I’m not too creative at 2am. But I’m considering adding a bullwhip and scythe-sword to my post-dream arsenal.

Lately, I’ve been having these semi-nightmares. Not really scary, but disconcerting. First, I’d get tied up and thrown into a tiny box—I had about four nights of these. Thankfully, I’m not claustrophobic, but getting thrown into an igloo cooler was a bit much. The next night, I had a dream that the stalker was back. (If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you know that I had a stalker in college—back before anti-stalking laws—who made my life and that of a couple of my friends a horror.) At any rate, in the dream I captured the stalker!! And I slapped him across the face.

I haven’t learned to control my dreams and I still think my prof was seriously crazed, but getting “closure” sure felt good. Next up, the evil shadowy guy that stuffed me in a box. I’ve got a taser and handcuffs waiting for him.


  1. Anxiety dreams are such a pain. I wish my brain would spend the time dreaming up something useful instead, like a scene for a bestseller. *ahem*

  2. I hate dreams like that just keep recurring, makes me anxious about going to bed. I'll have to try your method at controlling the nightmare next time I have one.

  3. I get nightmares every night, so I've been reading up on lucid dreaming, which is basically the awareness that you're dreaming and the ability to change your dreams. I've only been successful once. I dreamed that a giant bear was about to attack me, and then I told myself, "Wait, this is just a dream, I can fix this," so I shrunk the bear to the size of a hamster so he couldn't hurt me. Not sure how much of that is actually controlling your dreams or just dreaming about controlling your dreams, but it worked.

    (Sorry for the long post. Dreams fascinate me. Good luck with yours!)

  4. Shelley,

    Very cool!! Let me know how it goes with the lucid dreaming. I'm really curious about that.

  5. I've been a lucid dreamer for many years. I actually laugh at myself when a dream is upsetting, and remind myself that it's only a dream. Essentially, I take control of it at that point. There is still an occasional nightmare that scares me so much I "forget" to take control, but most of the time, I'm the master of my dream world. (More so than my awake world!)

  6. Susan,
    I'm so jealous! I'm going to have to master this "lucid dreaming." I was talking to my husband about it today and he says he does it all the time. ACK! How come I can't do it?!

  7. I like your approach to taking control of your nightmares. I've heard of lucid dreaming where you're awake enough to control the events of your dreams, but I don't know if there's any way to really control your dreams to the extent it seemed like your professor wanted you to.

    In any case, bad dreams could be indicative of other stressors in your life, and writing them down could help you deal with the anxiety or identify what it might be related to. Plus, writing is cathartic! :)

  8. I have two recurrent anxiety dreams--of tornadoes, and going back to college (weird, I know).

  9. I usually have bizarre dreams that feel like they should be in a creepy movie. So, usually, I am the main character trying to solve something, or find something. Though, it is really strange, every time my dad was deployed, I would have the same nightmare: I was in a moving car with my siblings and no driver. Very strange. I don't have it anymore, thank goodness! But I find dream analysis very interesting!

  10. After reading, "Bob The Criminal Strikes Again" I can see why you might be having some trouble processing your waking life!

    Thrown into a tiny box has *feeling out of control* written all over it, in my non-professional opinion. *g*

    When I'm feeling strong, and a wee bit defiant, I am able to conquer my fears in my dreams... but usually after I've already been awakened by them. Recognizing your fear is the first step, I'd say. We can't always avoid what scares us in our dreams (or waking life), but with a little work... and perhaps a nifty magical sword of justice, accompanied by a swift smack in the face *Big 'Ol Grin*, we can take a deep breath and begin again.

    I sure hope your identity theft issues are resolved PRONTO! And, btw, the FAFSA is enough to bring on nightmares for us too! Owie.

    Here's a *hug*. And a virtual piece of cheesecake! x