Here’s another dream fragment (one image). This one is an example of a recurring image. After 39 years I am still as fascinated by how much information we can gather even from one sole image in a dream.
Jessica, a young woman came to me with a recurring dream fragment. In the dream, she keeps finding a spot of dirt on the wall in her apartment. She wipes away the dirt with a cloth, but the spot re-appears on the wall. She wipes it away again, but the spot continues to re-appear, time after time. Jessica had become more and more concerned about the dream because it kept repeating.
Here’s how our conversation went.
I asked her, “How do you feel in the dream?”
“Frustrated,” she replied.
I asked Jessica, “Tell me what comes to your mind when you think of dirt.”
She thought for a moment, and said, “There is one thing about dirt. No matter how many times you clean it, it will always come back, and you’ll always have to clean again.”
I said, “Forget about the dirt for the moment. Is there any stuff at all in your life in the last few days or weeks that might make you feel that no matter what you do to try and fix a situation, the remedy is short-lived and the problem keeps coming back? Is the feeling of frustration you experience in the dream, similar to any feeling you have had in the last few days or weeks?”
Jessica connected almost immediately! It is such a blast when you first connect to your dream’s meaning! It feels amazing. Jessica explained to me that most days when she comes home from work she finds her two sisters making themselves at home in her place.
Jessica loves her sisters, but she is a person who needs her privacy too. She feels this is a sensitive issue, because they live in the same building. She always says hi when she comes home and gives her sisters some food. They watch TV together. Jessica never talks to them about what’s bugging her. Hoping they leave satisfied with the time they spent together with her, She thinks they won’t come back for a few days and will leave her to her privacy. But the next day, they reappear! Now we have solved the mystery of what the dream is about.
Talk about feeling frustrated. And we all know what frustration feels like, don’t we? At least Jessica realized from understanding her dream, that she is not alone in her frustration. Frustration is universal. It is a human condition. We all experience it!
Images come up again and again because there is a problem that’s not resolved. Very often these repetitive dreams are nightmares. The dream is trying to grab your attention so that you’ll DO something about the problem!
Some theorists like to look at the action in the dream in order to find the solution to the problem. Let’s do that. What is positive about this dream? What is its strength?
The strength as seen in the dream is how Jessica is actively trying to solve the problem. She doesn’t give up. She keeps wiping the dirt away. These characteristics are part of her makeup. Jessica’s unconscious is asking her consciousness to be in touch with her ability to act.
It is not as if she is sitting still in the dream watching dirt pile up and not doing anything about it. We see her “practicing” the answer to her problem.
What is the suggestion or solution she gave herself in that dream? In the dream she makes a physical move to eliminate the problem. She actually gets up to wipe the dirt! Now, if she chooses to, she can apply the behavior she has been practicing in the dreams, to waking life. She can take action, and speak up!
Speaking up in waking life is more difficult for Jessica, so I asked her to take a small step. She might ask her sisters for some privacy “one day”, because she feels tired and wants to spend some time alone. Just doing something even once changes your perspective about your abilities and possibilities.
Understanding our dreams helps us deal with our problems more directly. Even if Jessica does not chose to share her needs with her sisters every day, just knowing what the dream means, creates change and awareness in itself. The knowledge frees the energy tied up in the conflict. And that is the truth.