Sometimes I confuse my dreams with the remembered events from which my dreams derived their emotional elements. Due to confusion in attribution, I sometimes believe I am remembering real events when those memories are actually my remembrances of dreams instead.
For example, an event of the day results in me feeling overpowered by my boss. That night, I dream I am being chased by a bear. Upon awakening in the morning, I imagine my partner is acting abusively toward me. In this case, the attribution of the emotion of powerlessness travels from boss to dream bear to partner.
Out of Attribution Confusion
Knowing that memories are fallible and subject to errors in attribution, I reconfirm that I can manipulate memories – through dreams molded to help support how I want to feel today. Maybe you can change the details of your memories to support a new you.
What if you chose to restructure your dreams from a perspective of gratitude rather than victim-hood?
“How do I do that?” you might reasonably ask. I can control a dream using lucid dreaming in which I realize I’m dreaming while I’m dreaming. This is a very powerful imagery because it includes full sensory engagement – a real experience. That’s one way to manipulate emotionally charged memories.
Comes a New You
Another method is to perform a simple bedtime exercise. As you find yourself drifting off to sleep…
- Recall a negative emotion-charged memory of an experience you had that day. Just let it flash across the stage of your soon-to-be dreaming mind.
- Resist the temptation to ruminate over the memory and how you feel about it. This is NOT about fixing a problem – it’s about confusing attribution.
- Then, immediately after recalling the negative event, recall a memory of ANY TIME in your life that supports how you’d rather feel. It’s important that the last memory you entertain before slipping off to sleep is one where you feel strong, capable, happy, and grateful.
- Then, let the dreams come.
The idea is to set gratitude as the last emotion just before dropping off to sleep. The dream-attribution mechanism then presents stories from a baseline perspective of gratitude. That may affect your dream stories and memories of the day. It could also change your overall perspective.
You may not recall your dreams the next morning – that’s okay. The confusion just as you fell asleep may be just enough to confound your dream-attribution mechanism. You may view your emotionally-charged memory of the previous day in a new way. Perhaps you’ll solve a problem associated with that memory or suddenly experience a flash of inspiration concerning it. Who knows?
Practicing this simple exercise just before sleep might just create a new you.