Dream Analyst Ian Wallace On What Exactly Is A Dream

5 min read

Last Modified 1 June 2023 First Added 23 October 2015

By Ian Wallace

A dream is how you instinctively make sense of all the information and experiences that you unconsciously absorb every day. This individual sense-making process naturally provides you with meaningful insights into specific challenges that you encounter in your day-to-day life. Your dreams are not just some random occurrence. They are actually a deliberate process that you unconsciously use to draw on your past experiences to help you understand how to make the most of future opportunities.

There is a common misconception that dreams just happen to you as you sleep, as if you were some sort of psychic receiver, somehow picking up signals from the ether. The scientific reality, however, is that dreams don’t just happen to you. Instead, you happen to the dream and create everything that you experience in it.

Related: The 10 Most Common Dreams & What They Mean

The areas of your brain that are most active when you dream are those associated with exploring how to fulfil your needs, story creation and emotional motivation. The dreams that you generate every night are your natural way of creating stories. This can be about fulfilling your deeper needs in waking life and resolve the emotional tensions that you may encounter.

Illustration of two sides of the brain

You might think that you could also just use this process in your waking life, so that you simply wouldn’t have to dream at night. But your dreams actually draw on a huge reservoir of experience and awareness that is unavailable to you in conscious waking life. This incredibly powerful resource is known as your ‘unconscious self’. Even though you may be largely unaware of it in waking life, it drives most of your waking actions and needs.

Unconscious decision making

Scientific studies have demonstrated that around 90% of the major decisions that we make during life are a direct outcome of what we’re experiencing in our unconscious awareness. On average, an individual person can consciously process around 40 pieces of information per minute. However, unconsciously, a person will routinely process between 10 and 11 million pieces of information per minute. Some of this unconscious information will be inconsequential but some of it will also provide valuable insight. As a rational human being, you tend to consciously filter out that wider awareness in waking life, usually only experiencing it when you dream.

Related: Here Are The Best Books About Dream Interpretation

random images you might see in a dreamYou are not creating your dreams just to provide some night-time entertainment but to actually help yourself make vital choices in waking life.

By sifting through all the information that you have unconsciously absorbed during the day, your dreams create stories of what is most significant to you and indicate how you can fulfil your needs and resolve your emotional tensions.

The unconscious awareness forming the basis of your dreams is not just drawn from the events of the previous day. It draws from the whole of your life experience. The function of a dream is to recollect and reconnect you with meaningful experiences. This allows you to then project them into your future life, naturally positioning yourself for success and fulfilment. As you pay more attention to the dreams you create every night, you naturally become more aware of how you can successfully fulfil your ambitions in waking life. Achieving success can often involve navigating challenges and resolving frustrations. In waking life, these obstacles can seem insurmountable, but not in dreams.

Creating dreams

The word ‘dream’ has two meanings in our language, and also in many other languages. The ability of your night-time dreams to indicate how you can fulfil your needs in waking life is the main reason. As well as describing the sleeping phenomena ‘dream’ also describes our deepest hopes and greatest aspirations in waking life. When we unconsciously create our night-time dreams, we are engaging with the same processes that we use to imagine our ambitions. In our day-to-day reality, we do this by forming images of how our future might look. The main reason why you dream is to continually update your sense of self. By doing this, you can understand who you actually are, what you really need and what you truly believe in your waking life.

Related: Do People Actually Believe Dreams Mean Something To Us?

When you create a dream, you naturally make sense of all the information and experiences that you don’t usually notice. By working with your dreams, you can raise your levels of self-awareness and understanding to move beyond any limitations. Then, you can take practical steps to successfully move towards your ambitions. The images that you create in your dreams reflect how you see your self-image in waking life. This enables you to imagine the person that you have the power to become. A dream is how you imagine yourself.

Do you have any thoughts on why we dream? Let us know your thoughts below.

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