Why do we let our dreams bother us?

Source: barbwire.com
Source: barbwire.com

My friend The Modern Philosopher recently wrote about an unpleasant dream he had involving his ex-wife, who he doesn’t normally think about in his waking life. This post got me thinking about the dreams I’ve been having recently.

Why do we let our dreams bother us?

Over the past couple of weeks, no matter how positive my thoughts are during the day, and no matter how distracted I am from my breakup with my cheating ex, he still makes an appearance in my dreams.

I don’t know about you guys, but when I wake from a dream involving someone I am trying to pretend never existed, it can start my day off on the wrong foot. Waking up and falling asleep are the times when I have to work the hardest to control and challenge my negative thoughts. Having dreams that cause negative thoughts don’t help me.

While some psychologists believe that dreams are only random neuron firings and don’t actually hold any true meaning, I disagree. If our dreams are random images that our brain puts together, I don’t believe that this theory explains recurring dreams, nightmares, or having dreams about our exes. I have always believed that my dreams mean something.

Source: themarkeworld.com
Source: themarkeworld.com

Keeping this in mind, my dreams can have an impact on my thoughts when I wake up in the morning. I am learning how to breathe after all, and waking up from dreams of my ex makes it harder for me to think realistically. The dreams send my brain on a whirlwind of blurry, negative thoughts that only make me angry over situations out of my control.

Here are the dreams that have recently been causing me the most stress:

1. My ex emailed me to say that he had been secretly sleeping with two other girls, not just one. In the dream, I knew who the second girl was (I’m not sure of her identity in real life), and she lived in my town. I went to find her and asked her, “Are you sleeping with Bobby?” She said she was, and I gave her the heads up that he was also sleeping with another girl (the real Other Woman, Lacy). The girl told me she was done with him, and we both agreed that he was a jerk.

Even though this dream felt like I was seeking revenge for what he did, and I was gaining allies in the dream, I still woke up feeling angry and depressed.

2. My ex and I emailed each other civilly, giving updates on our lives. We were becoming “friends.”

I woke up and realized that the dream was unrealistic. I’ve never been able to be friends with my exes, and I feel the same way with my most recent breakup. I believe that I could only be friends with an ex if we parted on relatively “good” terms, with a minimal amount of bitterness or hurt feelings.

3. I learned intimate details about my ex and Lacy. I searched through social media and they were open about their relationship. Bobby and Lacy seemed like a happy couple.

This dream is fuzzy, but there may have been instances in the dream in which I reached out to Lacy and she gave me details about her new relationship with Bobby. All I know is that the dream involved answers to many of the burning questions that eat at me in my waking life.

Dreams are not real.

Source: dreamanity.com
Source: dreamanity.com

So why do they bother me so much?

My theory is that my dreams are the thoughts I suppress during the day. While I know that the details of Bobby’s relationship with Lacy don’t matter because we are broken up and our relationship was no longer healthy, the thoughts of her still bother me. I’m currently trying to challenge these thoughts and make them more realistic ones, but these dreams make the task more difficult.

My dreams are situations that scare me. They are what happens when my anxious mind runs away with me. These dreams are the result of losing control of my negative thoughts. When I’m awake, I have an easier time controlling my negative thoughts. I’m aware of them, at least. When I’m sleeping, the imaginary situations play over and over. My worst fears are real life in my dreams.

Since I’m still learning how to breathe, I’ve realized that the times it’s most crucial is when I wake up from disturbing dreams. I just need to learn how to start off my day with realistic thoughts instead of obsessing over dreams that trigger negativity.

I’m focusing my energy on challenging every negative thought I have and turning it into a realistic one. I’m hopeful that as I practice this, my dreams will also become less negative.

Honestly, I forgot how painful dreams can be during the breakup process. Dreams are my hopes, wishes, and repressed thoughts from my waking life. Seeing exes in my dreams recalls all the thoughts I’ve been trying to forget.

While time doesn’t erase memories, it can dull the pain. Over time, dreams change as my thoughts change. Someday, my dreams will no longer be about him, or at least not quite as often. The process may be slow, but I’m proud of the progress I have made. I have come so far from the dark hole I was in a couple months ago, when the events were fresh. Now, I’m looking at the situation with a more realistic perspective.

Dreams 4
Source: iama.be

As long as I keep moving away from my past and into a healthier future, I am going to focus on not letting my dreams drag me further down. I’m going to keep working to build myself up, because I know I deserve it.


  1. Thanks for mentioning me and my crazy Australian dream in your post. We’ve had some long talks about dreams, what they mean, and why we have them. I’m still trying to work on controlling my dreams as I’d much prefer to choose the topic of my nightly movie. I would much prefer a sequel to the recent dream I had about taking a beautiful, charming woman to the premiere of my movie. That dream made me very happy, and more than made up for the Australian debacle. πŸ™‚

    1. You’re welcome! I would love to be able to control my dreams, too. I have to start doing more research into lucid dreaming. Your dream sounds much more preferable to the ones we’ve had lately. πŸ™‚

  2. I’ve always been fascinated by the meaning of dreams and 100% believe dreams are a way for our brains to process and influence our waking life. I usually go to http://www.dreammoods.com when I’m wondering what a particular theme means. The symbolism is usually pretty spot on. I’ve written about how I have periods where I dream about toilets, bathrooms, and poop pretty frequently. Another common theme for me is out of control elevators (though not lately). Dream Moods has helped me make some of the connections I think my brain was working on.

    1. I completely agree. Dreams are fascinating to me, and I also believe that they mean something. I love looking up my dreams and seeing what they could possibly mean.

      That’s great you’ve been able to decipher your dreams and analyze them. I think that’s important, especially if we’re having recurring dreams or recurring themes.

  3. “I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder; am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?”


  4. My dreams also frequently reflect what I am anxious or afraid of, despite where I emotionally am in my daily life. These past few months while waiting to hear back from graduates schools, I constantly had dreams that my undergrad university revoked my degree or made me go back for another semester. I have dreams at least once a week about my partner doing/saying things that would never actually happen, and it takes a long time to shake away the bad feelings after waking up. Our minds can be real assholes sometimes!

    1. Yes, our minds like to play tricks on us! I also usually have dreams about things that I have a lot of anxiety about, but try to push out of my mind while I’m awake.

    2. Hello;
      Today, through your comment on this post, I came to know about your blog; congratulation for creating wonderful blog; it is indeed enjoyable experience to read your “About” page.
      Wishing you as well as REBECCA all the best………………………

  5. I wanted to comment that this is a great post. Unfortunately there’s a lot of things in here that I like, so I couldn’t keep a comment short. I will say this, though: Bobby is an idiot. It’s apparent to me (and I’m sure it is to others as well) that you had real compassion for him. While it is easy to offer platitudes and chipper “hang in there” phrases, I’d like to say that your caring for him isn’t diminished by what he did to you. You are a decent human being, capable of loving and caring for someone besides yourself. There is no shame in that; indeed, it is something all people should aspire to. And in the end, the person you see in the mirror is a better human being for your capacity to care.

    Think of how small Bobby’s world is as a result. Friendship, love, and companionship are rare enough in life. What he has rejected has impoverished him. Even worse, he might not realize how impoverished he is. Hopefully one day he will have enough wisdom to know his wrongdoing.

    And as for your dreams, they will go to where you are weakest because you are the one dreaming them. I wish you the best in finding your power. At that point, it is your dreams which will flee your scrutiny.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. Your kind words mean a lot to me. πŸ™‚ I’m so glad that you appreciated my post.

      I’m so glad that people see that I have the ability to care and love others. I’m proud that even though Bobby hurt me, it hasn’t destroyed my ability to care. He may not have the capability to love or care for others, but that will only make his own life sad, not mine. I want to have people in my life who care and are capable of love. Those are the people who will enrich my life.

  6. Rebecca;
    What a co-incident yesterday we met at Leah’s blog; had some communication, then started to follow each other’s blog and we started to move little further in our blogging journey by commenting on each other’s blog.
    Though, this is my first comment on your blog; there are few points which I would like to clarify to you.
    After reading your entire post; what I realized that despite of your sincere, committed and dedicated efforts; Bobby left you; okay, up to this extent, I am agree with you, but with the rest of things I am not at all agree with you.
    First; Why you are dying and crying to get attention for the person; who has already left you.
    Second; Tit for tat- If someone left you don’t even bother too think about that person.
    Third; Looking too your dreams and writing; it seems quiet visible that your whole life is revolving around one person; why you have narrowed your perception up to that extent; if you try you will find many happy people around you, so, buried your past and start to enjoy the present.
    Fourth; have a complete trust on God because many a times in the larger scheme of life he does something for us, which may be very good for us in future.
    Fifth; you are young, intellectual, learned, beautiful, smart and talented lady; and still whole life is in front of you, so, never ever lose hope.
    That’s all; whenever you have spare time please read this post and if possible reply me in the comment section of it.
    Wishing you all the best………………….

    1. Thank you for your input. I agree that we shouldn’t let people who hurt us be the focus of our lives. However, it’s my belief that moving on from relationships we are in takes time. We cannot just snap our fingers and be “happy” or “moved on.” We have to work hard every day to stay focuses on making our lives better.

      Thanks for your comment. I’ll be sure to check out the link you posted.

      1. Rebecca;
        I do understand your feelings; it is quiet difficult to move out; but, many a times, we don’t have command over situations or circumstances and in that situation “This too shall pass” is the only proper strategy and especially for the bold, courageous, brave and big-heart lady it should not be difficult task.
        So, move forward buried your all the past memories and enjoy each and every moment of life and whenever you feel depressed or frustrated read my some of the post; I am quiet sure you will get guidance from it and whenever you visit do not forget to leave the comment; I will help you to come out from this difficult phase of life.
        Wishing you all the best………………….

  7. Dreams are the result of the unconscious brain firing in a β€œrandom” but reparative order. Actual memories are hit, so there is meaning; but yes, it is never real. We get to see what our subconscious is thinking and processing during the day, and in proper interpretation we gain some insight into our world.

    Fear is meant to be conquered with love; so it can be downright painful dealing with exes and the passing of loved ones, that the answer is through, rather than flat-out avoid. Eventually, we all have to deal with it.

    1. That’s a good point that we have to go through things rather than avoiding them. For me, I’ve noticed that suppressing or avoiding situations causes emotions to blow out of proportion. It’s all about moderation. We can focus on the “bad” for periods of time because if we ignore the bad completely, it won’t go away. We have to feel it for a while. But we have to make sure to find the “good” in our lives as well and balance out our pain.

  8. First off I want to say thank you for the kind and encouraging comments! I also want to thank you for the follow πŸ™‚ Now I want to say how much I love this post!! I love the topic, your experience, and your writing style. Dreams have always intrigued me, and I agree, I think they are our thoughts that we suppress, or even think about during the day. I find myself almost always relating to them. Even if the dream is based of a movie or book, I seem to understand them most of the time. I’m sorry you had such an ugly breakup, and that now you have to relive it in your dreams. Like you mentioned in your post, I think that eventually when you and your thoughts come to an understanding the dreams will calm down. I think once you are able to move on they will be better. Again I loved reading this!

    1. You’re very welcome! I’m so happy I read your post. πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for reading. I’m glad you liked my post. I am totally fascinated by dreams, and I believe that my dreams are alway trying to tell me something.

      Thanks again for your kind comment! πŸ™‚

    2. Chelesea;
      Today, I visited your blog and commented on your “ABOUT” page.
      Congratulation for creating wonderful blog; I truly appreciate your fighting sprite.
      Wishing you all the best,,,,,,,,

      1. Chelesea;
        Thanks for your visit, reading and comment on my post.
        To strengthen our new yet very promising blogging friendship; today, I have subscribed for your very very inspirational, informative, creative and educative blog.
        Once again for your friendly gesture.
        Wishing you as well as my good friend REBECCA all the best………………..

  9. In my research on PTSD, I learned that some patients who use medical cannabis say that it helps them be present in their dreams, giving them more control over their nightmares. I’m not advising this for you, I just thought it was interesting.

  10. Dreaming about your ex is entirely normal, even if you are moving on with your life and know that your relationship was toxic. You can control your conscious thoughts but it only go so far. From what you said, the breakup was less than amicable and a lot of painful feelings were stirred – is it any wonder any of it appears occasionally in your dreams? However I completely understand how frustrating it is to dream about someone and something you have managed to let go; and how it puts a negative taint on your day upon waking up.
    The dreams are going to space out and fade away, trust me – I’ve been there. Unfortunately πŸ™‚

    1. I completely agree. Dreaming of our exes makes sense when we’re going through breakups, especially more painful ones. I’m relieved that I know one day the dreams won’t happen nearly as often. Soon, they will be extremely rare. It’ll be fabulous. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for your comment! I appreciate it. πŸ™‚

    2. Hello;
      I appreciate your comment and your views on it.
      Though, women faces many problems in society and to create awarness about it; on the occasion of “International Women’s Day” I have published this post; whenever you have spare time; please read it and your feedback as a comment will add value and give more insight to the topic.

  11. Dreams fascinate me. I don’t dream a lot, but when I do… man, I can’t stop thinking about it for days, if not weeks.
    What’s interesting is that different cultures have different interpretation for the same dream.

    Love your writing. Wish you dreams of love and freedom:)


    1. That’s a good point. Some cultures put a lot of emphasis on dream interpretation. I am also fascinated by dreams. I’ve always been interested in interpreting what my dreams mean and how I can use those dreams in my daily life.

      Thank you for reading and commenting! I appreciate it. πŸ™‚

  12. Excellent post. I think the general consensus is that dreams have value. Even if they are random firings, you still need to dream. It makes some sense though that dreams may also manifest themselves out of our own experiences and emotions. I watched a documentary on dreaming sometimes, and I think the truth is that becomes dreams vary so much across people and individuals a lot of the reasons for dreaming are hotly debated. One hypothesis that I really liked was something they said in regards to nightmares. They said the reason we have nightmares is they give us “practice being afraid”. They better prepare us for fear that we will face in our own lives. It makes some sense that “imaginary terror” it least gives us some preparation for very hard situations we could face. I think in some ways this could extend to anxiety type dreams as well. But it’s also a bit of a chicken and the egg. Are you dreaming about your ex because of the anxiety or are your dreams helping you better deal with the anxiety throughout the day? Or possibly helping you address the issue sooner than later which might be emotionally unhealthy? It’s an interesting thought.

    1. Thank you. πŸ™‚ That’s an interesting theory about our dreams possibly helping us “practice” being afraid. I could see why people would think that, because I have quite a few dreams that seem to manifest from my anxiety, and then the dreams play out my fears.

      I think dreams are fascinating because there are so many theories that try to explain what they mean. I tend to believe my dreams depend on what’s going on currently in my waking life. A lot of the time, my dreams go with the “problem-solving” dream theory in which my dreams play out possible solutions to issues I have in my waking life. At other times, my dreams go with the “wish fulfillment” theory, in which my dreams play out my hopes for my real life.

      Thanks again for your comment! Dreams are definitely an interesting topic. πŸ™‚

      1. I agree with what you’re saying and I love to analyze dreams too. But I think it’s also important to remember, as Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. We can think about these things too much! πŸ™‚ Nice to read your blog. I like the topics you write about!

      2. Exactly! Sometimes we don’t need to over-analyze our dreams or read into them too much. Thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoying them. πŸ™‚

  13. As a child, I used to have dreams that would continue from where they left off the night before. In them, I was a young widow with a son, both of us living with my mother-in-law (a nice person) in a place called Kamal. I freaked my parents out when I started keeping a journal of my life in Kamal in the language spoken and written there. To them, the language and script was completely unintelligible, and I think they feared for my sanity.

    I no longer have these dreams or recall the language. I once conferred with a linguist when I could still speak and write it, and he said that as far as he could ascertain, it was unrelated to any family of languages he was aware of.

    I’ve also never had nightmares, as I can change the course of a dream if I don’t like the direction it’s heading in. I can’t determine what I’m going to dream ahead of time; I can only change a dream once I’m in it.

    1. Wow, that is so interesting! Dreams are amazing because of stories like this. I’ve never had dreams continue the next night or pick up where I left off if I wake up in the middle of the dream. I don’t recall having recurring dreams, but I’ve had dreams that have similar themes, usually involving survival situations.

      I’ve always wanted to be able to learn to change my dreams when I have them. I have to research it more (it’s called lucid dreaming) and give it a try sometime.

      1. The dreams about Kamal came unbidden. I’m still not certain whether the language spoken and written by me was a form of glossolalia, much like people speaking in tongues, or if it was a language my mind created. Language and the ability to share the written language was for me, from a very early age, something magical. To this day, I love etymology and learning about different languages.

      2. Yes, I wonder how that language came to you. It’s so fascinating. To me, that just shows that the theory that dreams are nothing but random neuron firings doesn’t explain these sorts of situations. If our brain is just putting together random images, how can it create or learn a new language? I think that it’s obvious dreams are much more, as shown by your dreams.

        I’m glad to hear you developed such an interest in language. It’s very interesting to learn about, that’s for sure.

  14. Rebecca;
    Through your blog I am coming across many many talented and creative blogger friends like you.
    Wishing you all the best…………………

  15. A very interesting post. I could relate to this deeply. Dreams certainly are much more than random neurons firing off. They speak a great deal about our psyche and one can learn a lot about themselves through analyzing their dreams. I think it was Freud who wrote a book called Dream Psychology where he explains how to study one’s dreams to gain deeper insight into one’s self… more like a self-realization. Happy to have found your blog Rebecca. Wish you a pleasant day!

    1. Thank you so much! I’m happy you found my blog and that you liked my post. πŸ™‚

      I do think analyzing dreams is so interesting. It’s a cool topic because there are so many theories out there.

      Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

  16. This is such a fascinating read. I rarely dream. Except after a late night out or stressful day. I can usually unpack the meanings of my dreams. The situation with your ex has clearly had a traumatic effect on you. I went through the same thing, and it It took me so long to get over it but I’ve come to realize that what you focus on you will find. All the best.

    1. Thank you so much. πŸ™‚ It seems like I can be that way, too. I don’t always remember my dreams, but when I do, they’re usually pretty vivid. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who has had this happen. It’s definitely not easy, but I know I’ll get through it. You’re right that you will find what you focus on. That’s very well said.

      1. Exactly, it’s not like I was looking for someone to cheat on me – when I say thst you fibd what you focus on – but it was a fear of mine. I’d seen how painful it was for other people and I prayed that it would never happen to me. I focused on it not happening so much, that it eventually did. Your mind is a powerful tool. I trust that you will get through it. It will take time, but know that you have us – you’re not alone and we all think your ex is a jerk.
        Also, I just saw another post of yours regarding oversharing. I havent read it yet but the title intrigued me so I wanted to say beforw I forget – your truth is your best asset. I’ve decided to discuss less personal issues on my own blog because my colleagues read my posts. But I’ve noticed that my ‘bare’ posts, where I share simple things that im thinking, really get good insights. Please continue to share.

      2. I know what you mean. I was the same way where I was afraid of being cheated on, but I just thought, “It won’t happen to me.” When it did, I couldn’t believe it. I blamed myself for a while at first, thinking I’d done something to deserve it. I thought I had done something to drive him to sleep with another girl behind my back and lie to me about it.

        I finally realized that shit happens. He screwed up, and like you said, is a jerk. That seems to be the general consensus among everyone who knows what happened, and I have to say I agree. But I’m making sure not to focus on that anymore. I’m focusing on myself and what I have to do to be happier. I’m glad that you enjoyed me sharing my more personal blog posts.

        Thank you again for your kind comments. πŸ™‚

  17. Follow your dreams and nobody will define your dreams. Work up call. Dreams is about your future. That will help your faith in an amazing way. Write down your dreams also there are future dreams that you shall never beat but hard to define.πŸ˜…

  18. really nice post Rebecca, thank you for sharing. lots of similar views on this, I’ve shared some too and sometimes even weeks, years later parts of it come true which is shocking, so its hard, hard to follow dreams when they don’t quite come true in a good way, want to. and yea as you mentioned, psychology can’t explain it,

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