Nightmares Are Your Gifts in Disguise

Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?

~John Lennon

Do you know that your nightmares may be a gift in disguise? It is easy to forget a sweet dream, but a frightening nightmare can last a lifetime. How can we stop a recurrent nightmare?

It is easy to dismiss a sweet dream that allows us a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, nightmares can show us something to change in our lives, like remembering not to forget a vital childhood event, so we don’t make the same painful mistake again as adults. All our life challenges, no matter how sad, were and still are learning experiences.

Often finding the hidden nugget-of-gold or gift-in-disguise stops the nightmare forever. If you have ever had a nightmare that was so horrific, you were afraid to go back to sleep. Good for you! Nagging nightmares do not terrorize us for fun. They have a positive purpose.

According to Dr. Deirdre Barrett, a psychologist at Harvard University, “Nightmares are helpful to our survival or else they probably would have been done away with by evolution.” Barrett theorizes nightmares act as the brain’s way of focusing attention on issues the dreamer needs to address.1

A nightmare may be a call to action to help you revisit painful incidents in your childhood so you can heal emotionally now. Your dream world is the perfect opportunity to try out new solutions to an old problem. The frightening emotion you awaken with could be a piece of something bigger, like your future.2

A Latin proverb dating from the 16th century says ‘praemonitus, praemunitus’, which loosely translates as ‘forewarned is forearmed.’3 Might our nightmares be arming us? Could this be our gift in disguise? The trick is to remember the details between our many nightly dreams.

We shift in and out of our dream doors approximately four to six times during the night.4 Between our dream cycles, we can have a significant nightmare while in the deep sleep level of REM; Rapid Eye Movement.

But what is the agenda of nightmares so disturbing they wake us in the middle of the night?

Nightmares have three essential purposes. They get attention using fear because fear works. Then they keep your attention by making the experience unforgettable, thereby gifting you important information for your waking world. This dream guidance could be a call-to-action with specific verbal directions, another golden nugget in your nightmare.

Your nightmares are personal gifts from your inner-self for your waking life. Embrace your nightmare’s gift in disguise, decipher its meaning and message, follow the call to action, and thank your dreams for the opportunity to use the fearful information to live a more joyful life.

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Kat O'Keefe-Kanavos
Kat O'Keefe-Kanavos
Kathleen (Kat) O’Keefe-Kanavos is the award-winning author of Surviving Cancerland, and co-author of Dreams That Can Save Your Life. She’s a three-time cancer survivor, and co-publisher/editor of WEBE Books Publishing. Her dreams diagnosed her illness as seen on Dr. Oz, Doctors, NBC News, American Express Open, in Newspapers and magazines. She’s a Contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul, TV/Radio Host/Producer- Dreaming Healing on DV7Radio/TV Network, Wicked Housewives On Cape Cod™, Kat Kanavos Show, Internationally Syndicated Columnist in BIZCATALYST 360°, Dream Columnist in Positive Tribe Magazine, and Desert Health Magazine, Keynote Speaker, Performance Coach who taught Special Ed & Psychology @USF, and Lecturer who promotes patient advocacy and Spiritual guidance. She is co-author to the inspiring books; Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational Change and Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

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