Keep a Dream Journal to Speed Eating Disorder Recovery
- Category: Dreams
Why keep a dream journal?
Keeping a written record of your dreams is often part of eating disorder recovery work. Clients do it dutifully, resentfully, awkwardly, enthusiastically. They forget to do it. They can't do it because they can't remember their dreams. They are embarrassed to do it because the dreams are embarrassing. Or they refuse to do it because the dreams are frightening. Why do we need to keep a dream journal at all?
Value of a dream journal
Dreams are a living communication from your unconscious. Eating disorders and binge eating are attempts to bypass the internal unconscious and let your body carry the burden of coping with intense challenges.
Recognizing and honoring dream content gives you an opportunity to free your body of needing to carry the burden of your emotional life.
How does a dream journal work?
Keeping a dream journal lets you write down the content of your dreams. When you keep a dream journal you write your feelings, life issues, denied awareness, memories and life forces coming forward in a disguised language. Dreams use symbolism in an attempt to slip pass your personal censors to deliver needed and valuable information to your conscious mind Your dream journal allows your conscious mind to take in what your unconscious is telling you. Your body becomes less necessary to shield you from that information.
Understood, your dream images are powerful aids in affirming who you are, what you want and believe. They show you the challenges you face as well as your strength and power to cope with them.
What do eating disorders have to do with dreams?
Eating disorders block this inner awareness and prevent you from knowing who you are and what your authentic goals and experiences are in life. But your dreams keep pushing against the eating disorder barrier. Binge eating, purging, starving require a tremendous amount of energy. Your life force energy is diverted into the eating disorder. Dream information is continually blocked more effectively.
As you move more into recovery your dreams can become more intense. Eating disorder recovery weakens your internal barriers to the authentic self knowledge within you. More of your truth is attempting to get through.
Keeping a dream journal can be enormously helpful. Because your dreams use a disguised language, you may find it helpful to work with a psychotherapist who understands both dream therapy and eating disorders.
"[Dreams] have the power to seize terrifying feelings and deep instincts and translate them into images - visual, aural, tactile - and into the concrete where human beings may more readily confront and channel the terrifying instincts or powerful emotions into rituals and narratives that reassure the individual while reaffirming cherished values of the group. The identity of the individual as part of the group and the greater whole is strengthened, and the terror of facing the world alone is extinguished."
When you find yourself too busy or reluctant to write down your dreams reread this article. Encourage yourself to see your path to inner treasures you may be denying yourself. Your dreams and the whole of your dream journal can show you more openings into your eating disorder recovery and a better, more authentic life.
Keep a dream journal and read it weeks or months after you had the dreams. You'll see patterns. You'll see messages you couldn't see when you were too close to the experience. You'll discover wisdom and guidance to help you cope with the world without an eating disorder.
Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice serving California, Arizona, Florida, Utah and Oregon.
Author of Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder.
This article was inspired by Leslie Marmon Silko, a Laguna Pueblo Indian Mexican and Anglo-American woman, novelist, poet and essayist.
*pix your dream images can help your awareness explode like a blooming fire and lead you into recovery with newly released energy. This file is in the public domain in the United States because it was solely created by NASA.