You're in Charge:
A Guide to Becoming Your Own Therapist
Chapter 6 (an excerpt)
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If you are a nonrecaller
and want to join the ranks of the dream recallers, it's not too
difficult . . . if you really want to remember them and agree to
be in charge.
Setting the Intention
to Remember Your Dreams
Make a contract with
yourself to write in your dream journal (or your regular journal)
when you wake up.
Say to yourself just
before you fall asleep: "The first thing I do when I wake up,
I'm going to write down my dreams."
And do it. Have your
journal by your bed, with pen inserted at the page where you wish
to start writing. If you wear glasses, have them within easy reach
also. When you awaken, write down whatever you recall. Even if it's
only a fleeting impression or feeling. Even if it's only four words,
"I'm in a meadow," for example. Resist the voice that
says, "You didn't remember enough to be worth recording."
That's a saboteur subpersonality speaking. Possibly the act of writing
down "I'm in a meadow" will elicit more details about
the meadow and some action in the meadow. And even if those four
words are all you get, don't berate your unconscious--- thank it,
and ask for a fuller recall next time.
Even if you have absolutely
no recollection of a dream, sit up gently and start writing: "Alarm
went off. I have no recollection of dreaming. I feel . . ."
or whatever. Something will emerge if you maintain this discipline.
Until you are an experienced
dream-collector, I would advise you to set only the intention to
remember your dreams. For if you also set the intention to remember
to make a long distance call before 8, or to check to see if your
teenage son is home, or to put out the garbage, you will likely
wake up with the set to go into action on the second intention,
and your dreams will quickly slip away.
Probably most of you
do remember a fair number of your dreams--- possibly one a night,
possibly one a week, maybe one a month--- and are wondering what
use can be made of them.
Along with Fritz Perls,
I see the dream as an existential message from the dreamer to himself,
a statement about who he is and what his life situation is like.
I would first suggest
a very literal, common-sense approach to the dream. Frequently our
dreams serve to remind us of the contents of the day, which we had
noticed only subliminally, possibly due to the press of a large
input of competing stimuli. A dream of someone wearing platform
shoes (at a time when they were not in style) helped me to realize
that I hadn't been wanting to notice how self-important and grandiose
a certain friend was behaving. Dreams concerning foods or your body
should first be examined quite literally as possible messages from
your body to eat (or avoid eating) these foods, or to examine or
take particular care of certain parts of your body. The psyche seems
to know when a disease process is beginning, before it becomes manifest
in actual somatic symptoms. So your dreams, properly interpreted,
can be an early-warning system of possible future illness that can
then be averted.
Your dreams can give
you other kinds of warnings, too. I once had a dream concerning
a young woman whom I was seeing, who was afraid that her father
would murder her. My dream went like this: