Day 516: One possible function of anxiety (dreams)

Yesterday, I wrote about fear and/or anxiety, and received lots of helpful comments from readers.

Thank you, wonderful readers!

Last night, I had an anxiety dream.

In a typical anxiety dream, I am thwarted from doing something I need/want/desire to do, no matter how I try. In last night’s dream, all sorts of obstacles arose, keeping me from a real-life, highly anticipated event, later this morning. At 9:30 AM today, I am having brunch with:

In my anxiety dream(s) last night — which seemed to last all friggin’ night, but probably lasted minutes in real-time — I kept running into all sorts of unexpected barriers preventing me from ever getting to the brunch. Along the way, various people involved were disappointed or angry with me, too.

That, in summary, describes my anxiety scenarios (whether awake or dreaming).

I’m assuming that you, too, have had anxiety dreams like those, at some point in your life, about important connections or tasks (like a test at school).

Which reminds me of a scene from the 1984 Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker comedy Top Secret:

Image

I loved that scene when I first saw it, and I’m loving it, again, today.

Why? For one thing, it demonstrates the point of this post.

This post has a point?  Yes, it does, and the point is in the title:  One possible function of anxiety. One possible function of anxiety is … it sure feels great when we let go of it.

Indeed, our real, current circumstances — even if they actually involve pain and danger — can feel like a relief, in comparison.

Now, I need to get ready for my highly-anticipated brunch — which may include challenges and glitches (e.g., meeting up with my ESIL and with my son who is away at an over-night AND getting to the brunch on time) but NOTHING compared to the outrageous slings, arrows, and whippings I suffered last night in my dream.

As Val Kilmer said, in Top Secret, “Thank God.”

Before I end, I wanted to quote from some of the amazing comments from yesterday’s post:

I think anxiety and fear are closely related. I did think that the word anxiety derived from anxious, which can sometimes be related to an intense sense of excitement/mixed with impatience which is not really fear. Or maybe it is and you fear the time will never come and thus get anxious!

Swarn Gill

your gathering fear is really more a fear of dispersal, if that makes sense. Which is, in many ways, the most primary fear when it comes to things, people, circumstances, etc. we love.

Jeff Schwaner

I often look back on times in my life and think, I’d have enjoyed that a lot more if I hadn’t been worrying about what could go wrong.

Annabelle Franklin

I read somewhere, maybe even here, I can’t remember: that people who are anxious are living in the future and people who are sad are living in the past. That has stuck with me since I’ve read it.

—  dianasschwenk

There’s a difference between real danger and fear and anxiety. Fear and anxiety are created in our minds but to our body it reacts in the same way as real danger. A continuous fight or flight response coming from being anxious about a possible future outcome, causes stress and dis-ease.
Its our thinking that takes over, rather than the actual reality in the present moment. When we are anxious our mind literally beats us up…..

— Val Boyko

… I believe that fear and anxiety are about the future, albeit sometimes rooted in the past. That is a past trauma may make us anxious about it happening again in the future. Val is right about separating a real danger from a perceived danger but that is not altogether easy…even for real fears, we do need to stop ‘worrying’ about them and instead DO something about those things that require action. 

— elizabeth2560

And I’ll end with this one:

In the beginning when you asked “what is this post about? Well, so far we know it is about fear and metaphors”… Yeah, I had no idea that was what it was going to be about! I’ve learned not to try and find a point so early in your posts! Sounds like you are learning to let go of fear (not crediting the picture, hurting other peoples feelings) and I wish you well. I can only imagine how much better life will feel when you don’t have so much fear and anxiety hanging onto you! 

— Kate @ Did That Just Happen?

I can only imagine that too, Kate. It seems like … a dream come true.

Thanks to Lawry, his family, Deborah, my son, Val Kilmer, Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker, all my eminently quotable readers (including those I didn’t quote today), and to you — of course! — for dreaming here with me.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , | 24 Comments

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24 thoughts on “Day 516: One possible function of anxiety (dreams)

  1. Gene Phillips

    Great post. I have never seen that movie and now want to very much. The great majority of dreams that I remember are anxiety dreams, usually involving an inability to get somewhere. Have a wonderful brunch!

    • We all had the ability to get to that brunch, Gene, perfectly on time. Thanks for this wonderful comment!

  2. I always think of anxiety dreams, dreams of any type actually, as my sub-conscious work out of my fears. That way, when I awaken, I will have some form of identifier of what I’m subconsciously chewing that is undermining my peace of mind — hopefully. 🙂 sometimes, the dreams are so seemingly unrelated to my ‘real’ world that I start worrying about what I’m worrying about that I don’t know what I’m worrying about…. 🙂

    Anxiety, like worry, does not bring me peace of mind. So…. the only thing I can do is remember Benjamin Zander’s words and exclaim, “How fascinating!” 🙂

    Hugs. HOpe it all goes well today.

    • Thank you for the hugs and for the fascinating turns of your mind, Louise.

    • I’ll echo you Louise. When I have an anxiety dream … which is usually about missing trains or finding myself on the wrong one … I see them as emotional baggage. My subconscious working through some fear. That needs to be let go of.
      Hope your brunch is great fun Ann!
      Val

      • The brunch WAS great fun, Val (and it appears as part of the post I just published today). Thank you for these helpful thoughts about your experience of anxiety dreams.

  3. People and things keeping you from your appointed rounds. It is interesting that you have these anxiety dreams pinned to future events, still, while mine remain vaguely attached to college finals of the past.

    Hmmmm.

    I hope your brunch is boffo today, Ann.

    • Boffo it was, Mark. Thanks for all your past comments, and I have no anxiety about your future ones, either.

  4. I love Top Secret! I actually own it. I remember the first time I saw that movie as a kid. I laughed so hard, and yet I was too young to even appreciate all the jokes so it has always been enjoyable upon re-watching it. lol

    Once I got into high school and throughout my undergraduate I would have a similar dream, often the night before the first day of school where there was a class I was supposed to be in, but I couldn’t find it or a class I was supposed to be in but didn’t realize it, and it would be mid-way through the semester with me never having actually been too it, and I’d be very worried that I was going to fail. It happened a few times during grad school, but less. As I became a professor I thought such a dream would be ancient history. But there was again, before the first day of class. In this case, it was a class I was supposed to be teaching but couldn’t find it. It would be mid-way through the semester I would feel terrible that all these students were pissed at me, sitting there in the class, wondering where the hell their professor was. Then I would peer through the windows on a door into classrooms where there was no professor and students just sitting there and wonder if that is the classroom I should be teaching in. Unfortunately I still have this dream, but not always before the first day. It must be just a representation of when I am feeling anxiety over something. Oh joy! lol

    I watched this documentary show about dreams and they were postulating that one of the possible reasons for why we have nightmares is specifically to make us feel fear in a safer environment (our own minds) to emotionally prepare for real fear we will experience in our daily lives. So sometimes I wonder if these kinds of dreams aren’t just a pain in the ass as a result of what we are feeling, but rather a tool to help us face the stresses and fears of daily life.

    • Thank you for all these wonderful thoughts, Swarn. As usual, you provide more tools to help face the stresses and fears of daily life.

  5. Whooo hooo! I got a shout out! 😉 I hope you had a great time at the brunch, what a great start to the weekend!

    • The brunch — and the way your comment helped inspire this post — did give me a great start to this weekend.You rock, Kate!

  6. may the mind
    rest, still
    less needing
    to dream 🙂

  7. In mine things seem to be going right and then one by one things seem to disintegrate all around me leaving me in a hopeless state of desperation. The settings vary from modern to ancient times and are so very real and detailed it seems I could not picture such place with accuracy without having lived there and naturally I have not. Even awake there are a few that I really can’t remember if they were actual events or just dreams. The people different but all are intent on my destruction. I think my mind pushes me to waken to escape it. Sometimes I wake up and thank God it was just a dream. Been having this for decades.

    • It’s interesting that our sleep can result in experiences that are the opposite of restful. I’m wondering what you think of the idea, mentioned by Swarn Gill above, that these types of dreams might be a way to prepare us for challenges in life.

      I do find myself wishing that you wouldn’t have to go through these ordeals, Carl, during your time of slumber. it sounds so exhausting, to deal with people who want your destruction … and for decades.

      I am very appreciative that you commented here.

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  9. A lot of my fears lately have been about feeling disconnected from other people, so it was great to get a shout-out from you 🙂

    • I understand that feeling of disconnection and how it can seem isolating, so I am even happier,now, about quoting you here. Thanks so much for the connecting comment, Annabelle.

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