Bad Dreams?
Something Isn't Right
by Jennifer Orpen

Do bad dreams sometimes point out when an essential part of your soul makeup has been rattled? It's possible. Two details can help you identify which trait may have been affected.

Bad dreams are great at telling you when an important need has been ignored.

Though unpleasant dreams aren't as fearful or as intense as nightmares, they can still be troubling.[1]

Research indicates when a psychological need isn't met, bad dreams show up. When the need continues to go unfulfilled, frustration escalates. And, unsettling dreams can return, worse than before.[2]

Look at this though,...

There could be emotional drama in the dream coming from a character bearing no resemblance to you. But, it may really be your reaction to what occurred.

And, it makes clear something isn't right.

Do Bad Dreams Mean Anything?

Bad dreams can be an effective release valve for the pressures of daily living. Anxiety and old pain, put on ice while awake, can let loose during sleep.[3]

A bad dream also offers opportunity for personal growth.

When a lapse occurs in daily life and it involves your personal wellbeing, you can gain insight on how your psyche calls attention to the misdeed. As a result, rather than feeling you were being victimized, you can take immediate action to remedy the situation.

The trick is to recognize what the imagery actually represents. Then, identify the dream's emotional mood. And, the story it's telling.

Here's what this is about:

Seeing Beyond Visible

Bad dreams let you know when important part of your makeup is getting the brush off or being neglected.

Sleep researcher Rosalind D. Cartwright suggests, agitation or uneasiness experienced while awake  can come back to life again while you sleep. Similar emotions and resemblance to past events 'switch on' and join in, creating images in a dream.[4]


A single image may stand out. But, the secret is to see beyond the literal and recognize, in spite of its appearance, what the imagery actually refers to. It could be an incident, behavior or conversation you were part of.

At any rate, the image details the situation when an important part of your core makeup got a jolt. And, you felt displeasure.

But that's only half the story...

Is More Going On?

All told, a bad dream isn't an overly fearful event. But, it can involve negative emotions. Such as...

  • Anger.
  • Regret.
  • Frustration.
  • Despair.

It's easy to presume the dream may have been echoing that you were being victimized in daily life by circumstances beyond your control. The emotional reaction? It's part of living and you move on.


What if you still feel unsettled after a bad dream? Perhaps more is going on than meets the eye.

Personal Growth

Emotions can be a priceless source of information when seeking direction in personal matters. As example, for bad dreams, you could excel at identifying when emotional reactions say,...

  • “Fight for!”
  • “Scared of.”
  • “Trapped.”
  • “Sad about...” 
  • “Embarrassed by.”


Part of your soul makeup - a need crucial to your welfare - may have been cut off. And, the dream is telling you this.

Here's what else...

Experiencing a negative emotion is a sign something isn't right.[5] But, you could use the feeling as a catalyst to focus on your actions. And, rectify them in more constructive ways [6]

This approach can deliver healthy personal growth. Lends itself well to developing expanded consciousness. And, can dramatically boost your ability to tune into your soul.

Whose Drama Is It Anyway?

Emotional drama in bad dreams can fool you. The character in the dream doing the venting may bear no resemblance to you. So, it's easy to believe it's someone else who's upset. Except...

Could the emotions really be your reaction to something that happened in daily life?

There's something else...

In the actual incident, perhaps you felt actions were misdirected. Or, there was flat-out inaction. But, the truth is, the misdeed could well have been on your part.

Needless to say,...

A bad dream can have you convinced you were being victimized in daily life by something beyond your control. But, when you realize an important part of your makeup was done wrong - and you played a part in it - it can become a personal growth moment. And, golden for taking back your power, choosing what's best for your welfare.


  1. Zadra, A.; Pilon, M.; Donderi, D. (2006) Variety and Intensity of Emotions in Nightmares and Bad Dreams The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease Volume 194 Issue 4 p249-254 doi: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000207359.46223.dc
  2. Weinstein, N., Campbell, R. & Vansteenkiste, M. Linking psychological need experiences to daily and recurring dreams  Motiv Emot 42: p50–63 (2018).
  3. Walker, M.P.; van der Helm, E. (2009) Overnight Therapy? The Role of Sleep in Emotional Brain Processing Psychol. Bull. 135, 731–748.
  4. Cartwright, R. D. Article written by Maria Popova of The Science of Sleep: Dreaming, Depression and How REM Regulates Negative Emotions
  5. Schwarz, N. & Clore, G. L. (1996) Feelings and phenomenal experiences In E. T. Higgins & A. W. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles (pp. 433–465). New York  Guilford
  6. Biswas-Diener, R. & Kashdan, T. (2014) The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self―Not Just Your "Good" Self―Drives Success and Fulfillment Publisher: Avery

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