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How Keeping a Dream Journal Can Change Your Mindset

How Keeping a Dream Journal Can Change Your Mindset

Have you ever had a dream where you felt like you were trying to tell yourself something? As if there was a message you knew if you could decipher, it would change the way you live your life?

Knowing when you are dreaming is difficult, and remembering your dreams can be a challenge within itself. However, what if you could improve your life through your dreams?

Intrigued? Well, today you are going to discover how keeping a dream journal can change your life by changing your mindset.

Dreams and Your Mental Growth

There are studies that highlight the link between your dreams and your mental development. While some of the research is in its early stages, there is conclusive evidence to support the statement that dreams and cognitive development are linked for adults.

For example, there are several emotional aspects of your dreams that may speak to your ability to cope and emotionally process information.

Based on these conclusions, some studies have started examining the dreams of children to see if the same cognitive growth can be found.[1] Each morning, the researchers would interview the children by asking them a series of questions. The researchers would then categorize each dream based on the experience, theme, and emotions the dreamer experienced.

The research supported a link that the more effective of a person’s “executive control” in their waking life, the “stronger their presence is in dreams (manifested in activities, interactions, self-effectiveness, willful effort and cognitive reflections).”

In a nutshell, the skill-sets you develop while awake, will be measurably stronger in your dreams. By tracking your dreams, you will be able to recognize traits, emotions, and actions that you would like to change. If you act timid around your supervisor or family member in your dream, take a moment to recognize if you act the same way in awake.

As you begin to understand the fears and self-doubts you experience around that person, you can take action to change those beliefs awake. As you adjust your actions while awake, you should begin to notice changes in your dream-self.

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This is because your dreams are magnifying your awake experiences, so what is subtle awake is unavoidable asleep.

When a Dream Feels More like a Nightmare

The majority of people across the world experience disturbing dreams and nightmares after experiencing a traumatic event. These nightmares can be commonplace in the victim’s life for years, if not decades later.

Associations have been found between nightmares and “significant sleep loss, nocturnal awakenings, daytime distress, and impaired functioning”.

While dreams are not replications of real life, they have been found to use the “emotional life of the previous day” as a “guiding role in the selection of the events and experiences appearing in dreams.”[2]

Another way to phrase this is that dreams have been shown to play a role in how you emotionally process information. By keeping track of your dreams and your overall mood and theme, you allow yourself to be better aware of how you processed parts of your day.

Even if you suppress your experiences when awake, they will come bursting out of your subconscious when asleep. If you desire to improve your mindset, you need to address the experiences that shape your dreams.

That is why it is a good idea to keep a journal of all of your emotional experiences. Whether you are awake or sleep, if you track and record your emotional experiences, you will notice a cause and effect.

Dreams Shape Your Reality

Have you ever found yourself crying while watching a movie? If not crying, have you ever found yourself jubilant because a particular character asked that special someone on a date?

One of the most interesting things about your mind is the fact that your conscious mind cannot tell the difference between dream and reality.

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That is why you may find yourself experiencing strong emotions throughout a movie; even though you know those experiences are not really happening.

This ultimately means your dreams play a role in how you experience the world as a whole. Within your subconscious, all of your experiences, both real and imagery are stored.[3] These experiences then shape your perception of the world around you.

Think about the last time you felt déjà vu because of a dream becoming eerily close to reality. It felt as though you were performing the same task for a second time, even though you knew it was the first opportunity you had to perform the task.

How to Start Your Dream Journal

1. Start with Your Earliest Dreams

When you start your dream journal, you do not need to start with the dreams you have tonight. You can retroactively add any dreams you can remember.

As you work to develop the themes and feelings of your dreams, see if you can recall dreams from your childhood.

Note how you felt, where you were physically sleeping, what time you usually went to bed, and what the dream entailed. By starting with your childhood dreams, you may be able to recognize small mindset shifts you experienced over time.

You may have experienced care-free dreams where you were always the hero when you were in your adolescence. However, those dreams may have transformed into you being chased or attacked as you dealt with the pressures of being a teenager.

Your dreams are often a reflection of your life experiences, so everything has the ability to impact your dreams.

2. Question Yourself

Your mindset awake and your mindset asleep share many commonalities. By allowing yourself to consciously track and study your dreams, you will learn a tremendous amount about your beliefs.

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Psychotherapists and cognitive psychotherapists both help their patients deal with traumatic experiences by working with their dreams. Dreams have been shown to provide information on relationship patterns, personal conflicts, and salient issues in the waking life of the client.

The technique the therapist will use that you can use yourself is to examine the emotions you felt during your dream through open-ended questions. This will allow you to explore yourself in a much deeper way than you may have in the past. Through open-ended questions you can examine the associations, elements of the dream, and your areas of possible development.

By asking yourself open-ended questions, you free yourself of the burden of “interpreting” your dream’s rational message. Instead, you allow yourself to experience the dream’s emotions and uniqueness.

For example, I recall having a dream where I was in a car with my dad in the passenger seat. We were in the car because I was attempting to escape my captors. Throughout the dream, I was not sure why my dad was next to me. The kidnappers were not chasing him, nor were they shooting at him.

The dream ends with me believing I have found the perfect hiding place. I backed the car almost vertically against a stone pillar, believing I was out of sight. Then out of no-where, I am shot through the car in my upper left chest area. Just before I wake up, I recall my dad saying a simple phrase to me. He said, “you need to cut back on the mistakes”.

I wake up and I am left to wonder what my dad meant by the statement, “you need to cut back on the mistakes”.

As someone who does not remember their dreams very often, this message of almost a year ago stuck with me. I did not worry about trying to rationalize the dream as a whole, instead, I focused on the feeling of failure and disappointment.

I was mad at myself for not picking a better hiding place, disappointed that I let me dad down, and frustrated by the life I lived up to that point.

The frustration stemmed mostly from me allowing fear and self-doubt to discourage me from pursing new challenges. Like the saying goes, I was dying with a song inside of me that I had not yet sang.

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As you can see, I have had a lot of time to flush out this dream and really understand the emotions behind it. If you are looking to better understand your dreams so you can change your mindset, then ask yourself these four open-questions recommended by Dr. Kelly Bulkeley:

  • What is the strangest, most bizarre part of this dream?
  • Who are the characters, and how do you interact with them?
  • What emotions appear in this dream, and when do they arise?
  • What kind of reality is revealed to you in this dream?

By answering these four-questions within your dream journal, you will be well-equipped to understand the message of your dream and how to improve your mindset.

In my case, my dream revealed the reality that I was living timid and wasting a lot of time worried about the wrong things. My dream was less of a message about me being choosing a poor hiding spot, and more of a message of me dying with a song trapped inside.

Final Thoughts

Your dreams are closely linked to your cognitive functions, emotions, and experiences while awake.

By keeping a dream journal, you allow yourself to notice emotions and feelings that may not be as apparent when you are awake. As you chronicle your dreams, make sure you focus on the feelings, not the rationale.

Write down everything you can remember from the dream each morning, how long you were sleeping, and where you were sleeping. You may also find it beneficial to record some of the experiences you had the previous day that could have contributed to the dream.

These techniques will enable you better find the catalyst for your dream, and ultimately make the proper correction to change your mindset.

More About Journaling

Featured photo credit: Bookblock via unsplash.com

Reference

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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