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“All days are nights to see till I see thee,

And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.”

-William Shakespeare

Dreams are curious, marvelous, and sometimes frightening phenomenon that have the ability to reveal truths about ourselves that we often push below the surface of consciousness. This collection of memories, images, and emotions occur when we fall into the REM (rapid eye movement) cycle of sleep, which means the dreams we tend to remember the most happen right before we wake up. Have you ever had a nightmare during which a monster or person is chasing you and just about to close in on you, and you suddenly wake up in the nick of time? These types of dreams tend to be the most salient in our minds because they are the last dream we have before we wake up. However, researchers who study dreams estimate that we may have hundreds of dreams every night, but humans forget 95 to 99 percent of our dreams.  In fact, there are many people who are unable to remember their dreams altogether, or only remember having dreamt but do not remember what they dreamt about.

Nonetheless, for those of us who do remember our dreams, even if it’s only occasionally, the content of these experiences can be emotionally and physically impactful. Many researchers throughout history have linked these experiences to our dispositions or underlying tendencies that affect us in real life. For example, Sigmund Freud (the father of psychology) published The Interpretation of Dreams in 1990, in which he listed a number of theories surrounding the purpose and formation of dreams. One of these theories is that dreams often aim to fill our deepest desires, but they often mask or make unclear as to which desire wishes to be expressed. Although it’s difficult to prove or disprove any theories surrounding how dreams come to be, one argument in favor of this theory is that we repress those internal urges or motivations society deems to be taboo. Therefore, the only psychological release our brains and bodies allow us to have happens only when we sleep, allowing for our subconscious to take hold.

Importance of Dreaming About Someone from Your Past

Do you ever wake up from a dream and think to yourself “that person had no business being in my dream”? Or maybe you dreamt of someone specific and woke up wishing you could fall back asleep and pick up where you left off. No matter the scenario, dreaming about someone in particular could mean a number of things. For example, individuals who have caused us pain, pleasure, stress, or other emotions in our past are in many ways imprinted into the chemical makeup of our brain. So, it’s possible that when you’re experiencing a time of joy or stress-free living in your life, the people you associate with those emotions from our past might appear in your dreams. Conversely, if you are experiencing an ungodly week of stress, perhaps due to your job or another extenuating circumstance, those people who have caused us stress and anxiety in our past might unfortunately resurface in our dreams.

Dreaming About Someone You Like

When someone you like or have romantic feelings for has been on your mind during the day, their appearance in your dreams could possibly be a manifestation of the warmth you feel towards them. However, oftentimes what happens in that dream has little or nothing to do with how they feel towards you. For example, if the person you like rejects you in your dream, it’s more likely that your subconscious is projecting your own insecurity into the mix, interjecting itself into the storyline of your dream.

Dreaming About Someone Who Has Passed Away

There are many theories surrounding dreams that feature people who have passed away. For example, some theories surrounding dreaming of deceased relatives who bring us joy suggest that we are dreaming of them because we are dealing with hardship, negativity, or self-doubt. The idea is that when these people who we loved visit us during our dreams, they give us a sense of comfort, encouragement, and relief. In this sense, it is our subconscious that brings that person into our dreams to comfort ourselves, essentially acting as a shield that protects us from whatever is bothering us in real life.

Other schools of thought believe in the spiritual impact of dreaming of the dead, in the sense that these dreams could be a form of visitation and communication. Whether to send us a message or simply comfort us, these visitations can also be a form of relief, especially if we are dealing with immediate pain surrounding that individual’s departure.

When You Dream About Someone Are They Thinking of You?

The important thing to remember about all of these ideas surrounding the meaning of dreams is that they are all theories. It is difficult to prove or disprove how our dreams come to be, and why certain people appear in them. However, what we do know is that our dreams about certain people can be extremely emotionally impactful, and make us question how we feel about those individuals.

According to Freud and many other researchers who study dreams, a prevalent and overarching theory explaining why certain people or themes populate our dreams is our subconscious allowing repressed or less realized feelings flood the gateways of our minds. Perhaps we have a gravitation to someone we would not normally find attractive, so we do not think about them day to day, but they randomly appear in our dreams. It is possible that this is our subconscious giving us clues that we might not otherwise be aware of. However, what does this tell us about dreaming about people who we already know we like? My bet is that if you’re reading this article, you probably fall into this category.

Think about this – if your attraction to someone is grounded in your interaction with this person, and those engagements were positive experiences for you both, this stimulus is chemically imprinted in your memory and parts of it are stored in your subconscious. When they appear in your dreams, this is most likely due to your subconscious reinforcement of your attraction towards them. However, it’s possible that your positive experiences with this individual might have resulted in reciprocal attraction. In the same vein, you both might unknowingly be dreaming about each other. You never know – it’s possible that they might be thinking of you.

The fact of the matter is this – much more research around the power of dreams still needs to be performed to answer many of the questions we have around dreaming. This phenomenon remains one of the great mysteries of mankind, and while so many of us encounter these experiences night after night, most of us wake up wondering the same thing – what do they mean? Hopefully, one day, we might find out.

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