Recurring dreams repeat themselves with little variation in story or theme. What differs about recurrent dreams is that they are experienced frequently and repetitively in one individual’s life, whereas typical dream themes refer to the universal or inter-individual commonness of dream themes.
Recurrent dreams occur in between 60% and 75% of adults, and more often in women than men. The common themes include: being attacked or chased, falling, being stuck, being late, missing or failing an exam, and even losing control of a car. Theoretically, recurrent dreams are assumed to reveal the presence of unresolved conflicts or stress in an individual’s life. This is corroborated by findings that recurrent dreams are usually accompanied by negative dream content, and that they are associated with lower psychological well-being .
However, even negative recurrent dreams are not necessarily maladaptive. Recent research actually suggests that, for students, dreams of failing an exam can be correlated with better performance on the test. Researchers collected dream reports from medical students on several nights preceding a major exam and found that dreams concerning the exam on the night before, or multiple nights before, predicted proportionally higher scores, even though the dreams generally were negative and ended poorly . These results could be interpreted as showing that dreaming of the exam, even negatively, reflects a stronger desire and motivation to succeed. Further, the dream could even work towards consolidation of memory traces relevant to the learning material, similar to prior findings that dreaming of a learning task is associated with improved performance . Thus, negative recurrent dreams may still serve an adaptive function.
Recurrent dream themes often start at a young age, but can begin at any time, and persist for the rest of one’s life. The theme of missing an exam, to take one example, commonly begins during college years, when the stress of performing well may be more intense than ever before. However, this theme may then carry forward as a recurring dream for many years, even as one moves on to a career. The “missing the exam” dream may reappear the night before an important job interview or an evaluation at work. The circumstances may change, but the same feelings of stress, and the desire to perform well, can trigger the relevant recurrent dream.
Theorists suggest that these themes may be considered “scripts” or perhaps “complexes”; as soon as your dream touches any aspect of the theme, the full script unfolds in completion. Dream theorists generally agree that recurring dreams are connected to unresolved problems in the life of the dreamer. Dreams often portray a Central Image, a powerful dream image that contextualizes a certain emotion or conflict for the dreamer. The Tidal Wave dream is an example of a Central Image that represents overwhelming emotions such as helplessness and fear. The Tidal Wave dream is a common dream to experience following trauma or abuse, and often becomes a recurrent theme that reflects a person’s struggling with integrating and accepting the trauma. Resolution of this theme over time is a good sign that the trauma has been confronted and adaptively integrated in the psyche. Empirical research has also supported findings that resolution of a recurrent dream is associated with improved well-being . This is one way that keeping track of your dreams can be extremely informative and helpful in a therapeutic, or even self-help, process.
However, even if recurrent dreams are vanquished for a certain time, they will sometimes return again during a new period of stress. One subject in our lab reported a recurrent dream of being unable to speak, a common theme that might involve teeth falling out or lips being glued shut. The Central Image captures a sensation of being unable to speak and may reflect shyness or difficulty expressing oneself. In this case, the subject had this recurrent dream many times as an adolescent, though the dream disappeared during college, presumably after having overcome this challenge. However, after moving to another country and having to learn a new language, the dream came back. While the original conflict of shyness had been overcome, the new situation of communicating in a foreign language triggered the same “script” of being unable to speak. Thus are old scripts sometimes revived in new, different times of stress.
In general, recurring dreams indicate the presence of an unresolved and persistent conflict in an individual’s life, and the theme or Central Image of the dream provides a stage for this conflict to play out. The cessation of a recurrent dream may indicate that the conflict has been successfully resolved. Thus, being aware of and working with recurring dreams in your personal life or in therapy is a useful tool for resolving conflicts and improving well-being.
These dreams may be positive, but most often they are nightmarish in content. Dreams may recur because a conflict depicted in the dream remains unresolved or ignored. Once you have found a resolution to the problem, your recurring dreams will cease.
Recurring Dreams which tend to repeat the same and events with little variation. They often include events from the dreamers own experiences and may take the form of a nightmare, a terrifying or deeply upsetting dream of particular intensity causing strong feelings of fear, horror and distress.A recurring dream in the form of a nightmare can be related either to physiological causes, such as a high fever, or to psychological ones, such as unusual trauma or stress in the dreamer’s life. This type of dream can be experienced repeatedly over a long period of time.A recurring dream is a dream which is experienced repeatedly over a long period. Up to 70% of females and 65% of males experience this type of recurrent dream.The need for repetition indicates that the same or similar situation is present in real life. Identify the symbolism of the dream and relate this to what is going on in your life. Studies have identified common reported themes in nightmares and recurring dreams which include situations relating to school, being chased, falling, arriving late, death, teeth falling out, flying and car accidents.Recurring dreams are quite common and are often triggered by a certain life situation or a problem that keeps coming back again and again.Most dreams contain messages that serve to teach us something about ourselves. Unfortunately many a times we forget what we dream about as we go about our daily routine. With recurring dreams, the message may be so important and/or powerful that it just will not go away. The frequent repetition of such dreams forces you to pay attention and confront the dream. The dream is trying desperately to tell you something. Such dreams are often nightmarish or frightening in their content, which also helps you to take notice and pay attention to them.Dreams often mirror real life experiences but can also include fantasies and frightening elements from the imagination or movies, books or even computer games. To avoid sleeping trouble, sleep problems or sleeping disorders ensure your sleep comfort in the beds that you sleep in. Take natural sleep aids for a good night’s sleep, sleep in when you can and remember sleep disorders will be diminished with comfortable beds. The most common emotion experienced in dreams is anxiety and fear. Various systems were devised to develop a system of analysis and interpretation to reveal the meanings of dreams and skillful lists of the meanings of dreams formulated which included the subject of Apocalypse.
Apocalypse-Your dream about Apocalypse may simply reflect events of the day providing an outlet and safe way of expressing pent up emotions. Refer to Sleep Help if you can’t sleep or your dreaming leads to disturbed nights, sleeping disorders or insomnia.To dream of the Apocalypse is a warning for you to give substantial and material affairs close attention, it is an indication that you are worried about future events and economic uncertainty.It is also an indication that you feel out of control of some events or circumstances in real life – a divorce, problems or deaths involving family and other people. Dreams about the Apocalypse can also be triggered by major disasters in real life such as a flood or bad news about global warming. Events that are out of your control
Being Chased – Being Chased is an extremely common dream indicating that the dreamer is running away from, or being chased by, things or events that result in highly emotive feelings. Circumstances that result in fear, anger, envy, jealousy and anxiety. This type of dream is a result of fighting for survival in tribal communities.
Car Crash – Dreams of cars are symbols of how you are progressing towards your ambitions and emotions experienced with travelling through life. A car can also be symbolic of our bodies.To dream of a Car Crash indicates that you feel aspects of your life are out of control. Was someone else driving the car? If so you need to gain control over your life which is being dominated by another person. A car crash resulting from faulty parts can relate to your own health at the time of the dream.
Choking – Choking in a dream can be very frightening – especially when you are woken up by feeling that you are unable to breathe properly. Choking suggests that you are having problems with communication and are unable to express your views or feelings.
Going Bald – To dream that you are going bald indicates a lack of self-esteem or concerns about getting older. For a man to dream that he is thinning his hair, foreshadows that he will become poor by his generosity, and suffer illness through mental worry. For a woman to dream that her hair is falling out, and baldness is apparent, she will have to earn her own livelihood, as fortune has passed her by.
School – Dreams about school indicate that the dreamer is reflecting on current events in real life and learning more ‘lessons in life’.To dream of attending school, indicates distinction in lessons and work. If you dream you are young and back at school indicates a longing to go back to the time when you were happiest. To dream of teaching at school, foretells that you will strive for ambitious goals, but the bare necessities of life must come first. To visit the school of your childhood days, indicates that a feeling of discontent or discouraging incidents overshadow the present.
Someone Dying – To dream of the bereavement of a child, warns you that your plans will meet with quick frustration, and where you expect success there will be failure. Bereavement of relatives, or friends, could denote disappointment in well matured plans and a poor outlook for the future.
Teeth Falling Out – Dreams of teeth are often related to anger, with a dreamer clenching or grinding his teeth. This subject also denotes an unpleasant contact with sickness, or unsettling people in real life. To dream of Teeth falling out indicates anxiety about appearance and how others perceive you. If you lose your teeth, you might have burdens which will crush your pride and demolish your affairs. To dream that you have your teeth knocked out, could denote sudden misfortune. Either your business will suffer, or deaths or accidents will come close to you. To dream of spitting out teeth, indicates personal sickness, or sickness in your immediate family.
It usually points to a personal weakness, fear, or your inability to cope with something in your life – past or present.
The repetitive patterns in your dream can reveal some of the most valuable information on yourself.
It may point to a conflict, situation or matter in your waking life that remains unresolved or unsettled.
Or some urgent underlying message in your unconscious is demanding to be understood.
Following are some tips in overcoming your recurring dreams.
- In understanding your recurring dream, you must be willing to accept some sort of change or undergo a transformation.
- You must be willing to look within yourself and confront whatever you may find no matter how difficult it may be.
- You must be able to look at the dream from an objective point of view.
Try to get pass the emotional and reactive elements of the dream and get down to the symbolic images.
Many times dreams are masked by elements that are disturbing preventing you to delve any deeper.
This is a defense mechanism that your unconscious may be putting up.
- Be patient. Do not get discourage if these dreams still recur even after you thought you have come to understand them.
- Learn to accept yourself truly and fully. Often times, once you discover what your recurring dream is trying to tell you, these dreams will change or altogether disappear.
Most dreams contain messages that serve to teach you something about yourself. However, soon after you wake up to go about your daily routine, you tend to quickly forget what you dream about. The message in recurring dreams may be so important and/or powerful that it refuses to go away. The frequent repetition of such dreams forces you to pay attention and confront the dream. It is desperately trying to tell you something. Such dreams are often nightmarish or frightening in their content, which also helps you to take notice and pay attention to them.
Recurring dreams are quite common and are often triggered by a certain life situation, transitional phase in life or a problem that keeps coming back again and again. These dreams may recur daily, once a week, or once a month. Whatever the frequency, there is little variation in the dream content itself. Such dreams may be highlighting a personal weakness, fear, or your inability to cope with something in your life – past or present.
The repetitive patterns in your dream reveal some of the most valuable information about yourself. It may point to a conflict, situation or matter in your waking life that remains unresolved or unsettled. Some urgent underlying message in your unconscious is demanding to be understood.
Overcoming Recurring Dreams
Following are some tips to help you in overcoming your recurring dreams.
- To start to understand your recurring dream, you must be willing to accept some sort of change or undergo a transformation.
- You need to look within yourself and confront whatever you may find no matter how difficult it may be.
- Look at the dream from an objective point of view. Try to get pass the emotional and reactive elements of the dream and get down to the symbolic images. Often times, dreams are masked by elements that are disturbing, thus preventing you to delve any deeper. This is a defense mechanism that your unconscious is putting up.
- Each and every time you have a recurring dream, write it down in great detail. Look for any subtle variations. These variations are the most significant as it indicates that you are one step closer to understanding why the dream recurs.
- Pay attention to what is going on in your waking life when you have these recurring dreams. You may start to notice a pattern.
- Be patient. Do not get discourage if these dreams still recur even after you thought you have come to understand them.
- Learn to accept yourself truly and fully.
Once you discover what your recurring dream is trying to tell you, these dreams will change or altogether disappear.