You have had a nightmare or two at various parts in your lives. They are quite normal. But what exactly are nightmares and why do you have them?
Nightmares are a subcategory of dreams. The distinction of a nightmare is its frightening and/or emotional content. You tend to wake up in fear in the midst of a nightmare. Because of its frightening nature, you are more likely to remember your nightmares and the vivid details. They have a bigger impact upon your waking mind. Its images stay with you throughout the day.
Some studies show that people who are more sensitive, intuitive, creative, or imaginative are more prone to have nightmares. This may be because they are more empathetic and more in tune with their surroundings.
One reason for nightmares may be a way for your unconscious to get your attention about a situation or problem that you have been avoiding. It is time to take notice and confront the issue! Sometimes nightmares serve to warn you about your health or an accident. However, often times nightmares stem from a deeper level indicating that something is troubling you from within your subconscious.
Discussing, analyzing, and understanding your nightmares can lead to a solution to some problem, internal conflict or personal difficulty.
Causes Of Nightmares
In general, stress, trauma, fears, insecurities, feelings of inadequacy, health problems, marital issues, etc may all be reasons for having nightmares:
Childhood and Family – Present nightmares can be rooted in past neglect and trauma from childhood. From lack of love, neglect, alcoholism, to severe abuse, family members can be the most destructive influence on a person’s life. Nightmares may be a sign of such inner turmoil.
Life – The way your life is going and the larger society as a whole can contribute to nightmares. Your perception of the world, heath, natural disasters, criticism about politics, finances, crime in the streets and your inability to control such events may sometimes lead to nightmares.
Relationships – Your intimate relationships and your daily interactions with people can also be a source of your nightmares. Marital difficulties or pregnancy are other possible causes. You may be paranoid about how your think others perceive you or fear that others do not understand and see who you really are. Isolation and unhappiness may appear in nightmares as abandonment and loneliness.
Stress – The way you handle and deal with stress can trigger nightmares. Nightmares are a normal response to unacceptable levels of fear and stress. People diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder frequently have nightmares about their traumatic event, like war, rape, death of a loved one, car accident, plane crash, terrorism, etc.
Work – Since most of us spend the majority of our day at work, it is no surprise that work-related issues are a common source for your nightmares. Stress, job security (or there lack of), change in jobs, co-workers, unresolved work problems, or general dissatisfaction with what you do can manifest into a nightmare. The nightmare may reflect feelings of frustration and an inability to control your work-related issues. People in high-stress level or high-risk jobs often report of having nightmares. Nightmares of this nature may appear as you being attacked, chased, or being out of control.
Having nightmares are normal, but a high frequency of nightmares is a sign of being overwhelmed and excessive stress. These things should be dealt with directly. Nightmares can be an important resource for self-knowledge and emotional discovery. They convey an important message and help clear up the conflict in your life. It is important to distance yourself and work pass the emotional content (fear, grief, anger, etc.) of your nightmare and analyze it from an objective perspective.
The disturbing emotions may be a way for your unconscious to prevent you from digging deep into the meaning of your nightmares. Sometimes rehearsing or reliving the nightmare while you are awake and then changing the nightmare’s content or outcome helps to dismantle the nightmare, breaking it down. It also helps to write your nightmares down in a journal. Although it may be difficult at times, it pays to try and make sense of those darker dreams.