Psychological Self-Help

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analysis at any time. The helper can share associations and speculations
when asked, but her/his major job is to keep the dreamer from "running
away" from parts or implications of the dream. 
3.
After the dream is told, the listener(s) will probably want to ask questions
about the dream content and the dreamer's emotions. This clarifies the dream
and may remind the dreamer of parts he/she had forgotten or overlooked.
Avoid speculating at this point about the meaning of the dream or about the
dreamer's personal situation. That is the next step. 
4.
The first step in analyzing the dream should be the dreamer relating the
dream content to whatever is going on in his/her life around the time of the
dream. Several things need to be considered. First, some elements (people,
actions, feelings) in your dreams are simply reflections of experiences you
have had during the day. Freud called them "residuals" or leftovers. Some
seemingly ordinary leftovers are significant, others are not. Some important
leftovers are frequently overlooked; some trivial leftovers are given too much
importance. The problem is: you can't trust your first reaction. The best one
can do is to note the connection between the dream and a real life event,
keeping it in the back of one's mind as you look for hidden feelings and
motives. A common trick in dreams is that several events from the day will
combine to form a composite happening, object, or person in the dream. This
may be hard to recognize. 
Secondly, my personal belief is that dreams are, in part, a means of
releasing excessive leftover emotions from everyday life (keeping in mind
that strong fears and scary experiences may linger in our memory forever,
explaining the dreams of long ago traumas--see chapter 4). There is evidence
for dreams soothing our emotions. Examples: if the sleeper is awakened
whenever REM sleep occurs, so that he/she does little dreaming, the sleeper
is tired and irritable the next day even though he/she got plenty of sleep.
Likewise, if we have a series of troubling dreams that remain unresolved in
our sleep, we wake up tired and grouchy. On the other hand, if we have
several problem-oriented dreams which we successfully resolve during a good
night's sleep, we wake up rested and in a good mood (Kramer, 2000). There
also seems to be agreement that the more anxious one is during the day or
the hornier one is, the more likely that these pent-up emotions will influence
our dreams at night, right? It also seems very likely that dreams are
sometimes quickly made up by the cortex to incorporate the emotions being
discharged, just like our dreams incorporate external sounds, like a horn, or a
pain in our body. Exactly how dreams relieve negative emotions is unknown
(but dreams are complexly associated with both learning and forgetting). 
Therefore, both the emotions giving rise to the dream and the dream
content (which surely isn't accidental) are important. Thus, we should ask
ourselves, "What emotions are left over from the day (or the long ago past)
and being released?" and "Why do I have a build up of these emotions?" and
"Why and how are these specific dream images connected with the expression
of the built up emotions?" At least for me, in this way anxiety and other
stressful dreams become easier to understand. Also, I can look for effective
ways to handle the excessive emotions during sleep and during the day using
self-help. 
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