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March 10, 2021

“Wet” Dreams: What this Symbol could Reveal about your Emotional State.

 

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“Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

~

It’s processing time. And this is how I know:

I’m standing on a sandy beach and the water pulls back from the coastline revealing a steady pool-like slope into the deep end. Mesmerized by its exposure and the access I can have to it while remaining dry in the realm of air, I follow the waterline, staring at my feet in the pink, grainy earth.

And then I look up.

A wave builds itself stories high above me and there is no way that I can escape.

I’ve had this recurring dream since childhood and it’s always terrifying, no matter the variation.

Sometimes, there’s a black “screen” of sorts that appears just before the wave hits me. Sometimes I try to run; my heart races, but my body can only move in slow motion—I’m about to die. And sometimes—most recently—I turn to run, but knowing there’s no success in that, I turn to succumb to the wave. I dive decisively into the base of its glassy blue wall.

Yesterday, in real life, my ground-level apartment just feet from the coastline of Hawaii was threatened by a possible tsunami after an 8.1 earthquake struck beneath the ocean off New Zealand.

F*ck.

Yes, my actual survival instincts switched on, but so too did the emotions that are held in my recurring nightmares. And it makes sense.

Dreams, according to some psychologists like Freud and Jung, are the bearers of what’s going on in our subconscious. Much of what we dream may not make sense when observed at face value, but when we come to analyze what symbols come up in our lives and when, we can use them as a compass for better self-understanding and as a tool for growth.

Let’s dive right in: what water in your dreams might be trying to tell you.

While Freud believed that water represents birth and that the events surrounding the water in a dream were indicative of one’s psychology surrounding it, some modern psychologists believe that dream symbology can be as unique as our minds. Makes sense, right?

In this case, I’ve come to observe in myself that the “birth” that water represents actually symbolizes the beginning of new emotional phases that I am processing.

And so, to me, that tidal wave has come to mean that I am overwhelmed by emotions. My reaction to that tidal wave reveals how I am handling these emotions and allows me to look at what actions I might need to take to better relate with my current emotional state.

For example, when I’ve blacked out before the impact of the tidal wave, I have been either unwilling or unable to process emotions. Something was there that I was repressing or denying—developmentally unable to process. Perhaps it’s time for some professional assistance.

When I’ve sought to run from that tidal wave, I’ve been aware of my emotions but avoiding them. In this case, I’ve been made aware of a tendency toward escapism. Time to start slowly confronting what’s right in front of me.

And when, most recently, I’ve wanted to run but, instead, turn to face my emotions and plunge head-first into their collective base, I’ve been proud to look at life knowing that I’m tackling some pretty scary, heavy, powerful sh*t. This is a good time to commend myself for that and observe what’s working or perhaps even what I could get just a little more comfortable with.

But that’s just one water dream and, of course, there are others.

There’s the one where I’m at a swimming pool and in seeking to rescue a friend from the water by offering my hand, I am pulled beneath the liquid surface and it becomes a glass ceiling I cannot break through. I’m drowning. That’s people-pleasing or overextension.

There’s the one where I’m exploring the solid, icy surface of the Antarctic when a humpback whale shows up. How the whale interacts with the water and how it affects me represents my mother wound.

There’s the one where I’m about to jump off the high dive and either the water disappears just as soon as I leap, someone swims into my path and gets injured, or I hit the surface incorrectly and injure myself. This one prompts me to look at whether I’m being reckless, whether the actions or presence of others are inhibiting my emotional growth, or whether I’m missing some tools or knowledge to handle something that I’m really “ready” to handle (read: super over feeling).

Perhaps these dreams that I share are awakening the memory of some of your own watery dreams. Perhaps you’re strongly averse to the meaning I attribute to this symbol, or perhaps you find yourself mmm-ing out loud. Either way, that is fine. That’s what dream interpretation is all about—discovering the subconscious symbols that represent what’s going on beneath the surface hum of our day-to-day operations.

Note: you don’t have to be hippie-dippy (like me) or subscribe to the belief that dreams are sent by the Universe or God (like me—sometimes) to analyze your dreams. Remove “belief” and “mysticism” and you have a “plain” ol’ mindfulness practice.

If that intrigues you, here’s how to start your dream analysis journey:

1. Recall your dreams.

>>Take a dip into the dream realm, starting with an observation of your most memorable dreams featuring water.

>> If nothing comes to mind, think of the earliest dream you remember having.

>> If still nothing comes to mind, think of a recurring dream you have—one that shares the same setting or scenario (say, a foreign country, or a zombie apocalypse)

>> As a last resort, take a look at the most recent dream you remember having.

That reminds me…

2. Note what you can remember of your dreams in a notebook or your phone as soon as you wake up.

>> Note them when you wake up in the middle of them. 

>> Note them first thing in the morning. 

>> In both situations, write them out in a free-flow. Don’t let your pen stop writing even if the dream or your additional words about it makes no sense. 

3. Evaluate which symbols stand out.

>> Usually, it’s about three to five symbols.

>> These symbols should either seem really odd (almost humorous), powerful (eliciting some sort of emotion—including fascination), or prominent (things your memory just can’t let go of).

4. Consult a dream dictionary.

>> See what meaning is typically attached to that symbol. What feels true and what does not?

>> Look at the reasons why that means nothing to you or couldn’t be the case. Is your rejection of that meaning coming from a space of denial (you’ll usually have an emotional or strong aversion if so) or just certainty (usually just a simple discarding of an interpretation)?

>> Don’t be afraid to launch off of your “Definitely nots” or “Kinda but not really” reactions to symbol interpretations. This is how we discover our own meanings and develop our own self-analytical tools for growth.

5. Investigate more common “background” elements and their interaction with or effect on your major symbols.

>> This will help you to deepen your understanding of the main symbols and will also help you look at the standard function of other players in your dreams (like people, crowds, landscapes).

6. Eventually, lose the dictionary.

>> Once you’ve got a few dreams under your belt, you’ll be ready for a more personal and mindful relationship with your subconscious goings-on.

>> Consult the dream dictionary or other guides when you’re stumped. 

In looking at water and other prominent symbols in our dreams, we can learn where we are in juxtaposition to where we’d like to be, whether it be in our emotional approach to life or in the pursuit of life goals or skills.

From there, we can take heart-felt actions to move in the direction we desire.

~

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