Nightmares in Adults

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The Most Misunderstood of All Dreams

Nightmares in Adults

Nightmares are the most misunderstood of all dreams. They are often dismissed as nothing more than the distressed images of an over-active mind.

On the contrary, nightmares are actually a healthy expression of deep-seated tension and fears. As frightening as bad dreams can seem, they are designed for our personal benefit and can do us no physical harm. Douglas Clucas, author of Dreams: Decoding the Meaning of your Dreams, believe that nightmares represent the dreamer's desire to deal with problems rather than hide from them.

How to Stop Nightmares

If you're plagued by nightmares, you can try the following:

1. Try to release tension and relax before falling asleep. It may help to use creative visualization to visit a 'safe place' in your mind. Choose a place that holds fond memories or create a setting that has a calming effect upon your mind.

2. If you're jolted awake by a nightmare, regain your composure by reminding yourself that it's only a dream, then try to re-enter your dream with the confident knowledge that whatever your personal demons try to do to you, they can't physically harm you. As Douglas Clucas puts it, 'Once they are seen for the impostors they truly are, you can begin to fight back. By far the most effective way of doing this is to use humor against your tormentors. For example, if your sleep is plagued by the vision of a vampire, take away his cloak and imagine a pink polka dot skirt in its place... really, what possible harm can he do to you now?'

3. One of the most effective methods of banishing nightmares is to draw the fears that haunt you in your sleep. You can do it in your dream journal if you have one, but a sheet of paper will do nicely. Once you've drawn as many details as you can remember, alter your drawing to include symbols that make you feel safe. For example, draw a bright sun in the sky, or add a rainbow with vivid colors. By adding positive elements to the scene, you create a weapon that you can use any time that bad dreams threaten.

4. Pamela, J Ball, author of The Complete Book of Dreams & Dreaming, suggests the RISC technique to manage nightmares in adults. This is a simple method to help people face bad dreams and consists of the following four steps:

  • 1. Recognition: As soon as you recognize that you're having a bad dream, consciously decide thatyou do don't need the feelings it leaves you with, whether that is anger, fear, guilt or any other painful emotion;
  • 2. Identification: Identify what it is about the dream that upsets and disturbs you.
  • 3. Stopping a nightmare: Remember that you are in charge. You do not have to let a bad dream continue. You can choose to wake up, or recognize that you're dreaming, or become lucid and manipulate your own dream.
  • 4. Changing: You have the power to change each negativity in the dream to something positive. Initially you may have to wake yourself up to create a better conclusion, but you can train yourself to do it while you're still asleep.

Related Posts

* What causes Nightmares?

* What are Night Terrors?

* Dream Disorders


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