Have you ever had one of those really strange and disturbing dreams that leave your mind all twisted and confused? Maybe one about deceitfully helping your slimy boss get that over-achiever fired at your job, or about having a romance with one of your deceased relatives? What about a serious one about murdering your ex’s girlfriend, or about having an affair with your best friend’s wife?
If you haven’t experienced these or any other such dreams, you are one lucky person. Apparently, anything goes in the unconscious world and as nice as that may sound in some ways, it is quite frequently the opposite. The disturbing images and stories that find their way into our minds while we’re asleep and settle into our conscious memories often have no literal explanation. They usually seem to come out of nowhere, never having entered into our lives in any way previously. They are a mystery and they fascinate us. It’s no wonder why dream interpretation/analysis is so popular.
We often think of and discuss most dreams with wonder and humor, even the most disturbing ones. We laugh and say things like, “Don’t know where the hell that came from,” or “I can’t believe my brain would come up with something so ridiculous.” We’re often able to let go of and forget about our dreams in a matter of minutes, if not seconds, and have no inclination to take responsibility for them. We think, “I had nothing to do with it, I was asleep!”
When it comes to our dreams we trust that our logic is superior.
So why is it that we can’t meet our conscious thoughts with the same light-hearted curiosity and fascination? Thoughts like, “If only Jenny would get a scratch on her new car, then she’d finally stop bragging,” or “Maybe if Chris gets sick and can’t make it to the presentation, I can have his job.” Even slight, emotionally-driven thoughts like, “Would be so great if his wife left him for me,” or “Maybe life would be better if my boss would just die.” Instead, these thoughts are all too easy to get caught up in and dwell on. We take responsibility for our conscious thoughts, neglecting to realize that even they manage to wander off without us all the time! Hundreds of hypothetical, rootless, and meaningless thoughts creep in and creep out of our brains constantly without our permission and yet, we somehow allow specifically-random ones to leave behind doubt, fear, guilt, sadness, and so much more negativity.
But the truth is, They’re Just Thoughts! Just like how our dreams are just dreams! They’re not meant to cause harm to anyone and most often come without any plan or action to back them up. They’re not meant to be picked apart and brought into a reality where they never belonged. Fleeting thoughts are meant to do just that…. “fleet.” By definition they are situational, momentary, and designed to be short-lived. By intercepting them, grabbing hold of them, and overly-examining them, you make them into something more than they are. You allow yourself to judge them and make incorrect conclusions about them. Then it’s only a matter of time before you start to judge, criticize, and doubt yourself---“How could I ever think something so horrible? Something must be wrong with me.”
Now, here’s a notable fact… if a disturbing thought makes you feel like a bad person, guilty, sad, or concerned, it’s likely safe to say that such a thought in no way represents the whole of who you truly are. Just like how our disturbing dreams may cause us confusion and discomfort because they have no true standing in representing our actual beliefs and views of the world. One is no different from the other and therefore, our logic has to weigh in the same for both.
So, as always, here’s the bottom line: The next time you find yourself internally smiling while your boss is scolding a coworker, know that this does not make you an evil person who is enjoying the suffering of another; you’re simply happy that you’re not the one being scolded. The next time you have a feeling of relief when seeing the car in front of you have an accident, you’re not a selfish jerk benefitting from another’s misfortune; you’re simply glad that you are not the one in the accident. When you fantasize about your neighbor breaking up with his wife, it’s not because you want him to feel pain; it’s simply because you’re looking to soothe your own…
…And yes, they may be ugly, shameful, harsh, and disturbing, but they’re just thoughts from being just human.