The different way men and women express emotions especially as manifested in their dreams.

 

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As I’ve been preparing to do a presentation to some of the men of the church on the meaning and usefulness of dreams I’ve been focusing on both masculine and feminine experience as they manifest in dreams. Earlier this week I spent some time looking at the differences in gender regarding the experience of emotional events as they are expressed.

Both genders seem to lose their “voice” at a young age. Boys are just as emotional as girls but their expression of it is altered by society over time. What voice am I talking about? Girls lose their masculine voice while the boys learn to moderate their feminine.

Research has shown that a boy’s emotional aspect is often different from a girls. Often the extreme sensitivity that boys feel when younger has been suppressed and demeaned. This can leave a boy feeling as though there’s something wrong with them i.e. broken. This can happen with a girl as well and it leaves them feeling insufficient. In truth we are all born somewhat alike with the primary differences being in how we express that likeness or in how we learn not to from the society we live in.

In a Psychology Today article (Sep 9, 2011) it’s claimed that men dream of other men or men in general more often than women e.g. 67% of characters in a man’s dream are men as opposed to 48% of characters in a woman’s dream being women. Men’s dreams are frequently about aggressive encounters with other men who are typically strangers while women tend to dream of women whom they know or are familiar with.

The article also points out that these different trajectories and content patterns are both biological and socially affected.

In the emotional arena Paul Hudson in June of 2015 as reported by the Elite Daily suggested that men may very well be more emotional (read as sensitive) than females in general. However, the study showed that men just hide these emotions better i.e. men have been taught (usually by society and culture regardless of upbringing) to keep their emotions to themselves. Men are often taught to be ashamed of their emotions and one learns quickly that as a man you can lose acceptance and respect by sharing your emotions.

So how do these differences manifest themselves in men’s and women’s dreams? In an article written by Gabrielle Gresge in Sept of 2017 as reported by Brit+Co a study discovered to no one’s surprise that the top dream topics were sex and intimacy, feeling paralyzed, chased, some future event or about a cheating partner. This is consistent with the nearly 4000 dream stories sent to me for interpretation over the years.

When gender is considered women (35%) reported dreaming of relatives who had died with men showing much less of this. In the area of cheating women treat these dreams as symbolizing the need for some tough decisions where as many as 39% of men take the dream more literally in that they think that they may have feelings for someone else. In my experience with people who have these dreams women experience their male relationship cheating in dreams when they themselves are feeling disconnected as though the romance seemed to have left the relationship.

Another somewhat significant finding suggests that women tend to look for meaning in their dreams at about twice the frequency that men do.

Women in a man’s dream often speak to a man’s lost gentler and more patient or caring side while men in a women’s dream can help bring back certain aspects of their hidden and suppressed masculine nature such as assertiveness and decisiveness.

In this way our dreams come to us as arbiters of our health and well-being. They often bring back aspects of our lost selves and our so-called lost voice so that we can function more healthily and authentically.

Emotions in dreams: Anger

 

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A dream image of anger from one of my own dreams: Bull with lightning emanating from his eyes.

 

Emotions in dreams can be a way for the dreamer to act out the feelings that they normally would not express if they were awake. The dream provides a “safe” outlet for these emotions.

However, if the dreamer feels a mix of emotions in their dream, especially if the emotions are contradictory, then it may mean that the conscious and subconscious are in emotional conflict.

Emotions in dreams are integral to the way the brain works i.e. there seems to be a primitive network that links both dreams and emotions. This is why one must focus on the prevalent emotion(s) of a dream in order to derive broader meaning.

Other than reflecting a current way of being emotions can also signal the need for new ways of being. For example, anger can be about the need to stand up for yourself, fear can be about being more assertive, happiness can be about being more serious, or anxiety could suggest the need to be more cautious.

Probably one of the most prevalent emotions in dreams is some form of anger.

Anger in a dream can represent that you are repressing your anger about something or that your unacknowledged anger is causing health problems.

Sometimes in your waking life, you may have the belief that it is not appropriate or safe to express anger. In dreams, you can allow its expression. This can help make it possible for you to be more assertive in your waking life. Perhaps the anger in the dream is suggesting that one stand their ground and become more confident. It can also provide relief for pent-up feelings.

Anger can also show up in a dream when people are shooting at each other or when people or animals are fighting. Another image might include an angry face or many angry faces as in a mob.

C.G. Jung looked at people as though they had two distinctly different spirits: Spirit of the Times (that which you live in culturally and sub-culturally) and the Spirit of the Depths (the soul, or essence of who you are).

Both the sleeping dream and the waking dream present emotional data that speaks to an imbalance in one’s life. For example, it is often said that anger that has not been transcended and dealt with appropriately in one’s waking life can become turned inward and create a feeling of depression. And sometimes this feeling of depression is a call from the Spirit of the Depths that one is becoming too dependent on the Spirit of the Times.

 

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” –Buddha

One may need to trust more in the quietness of their soul than the sound and fury of the outer world.

 

“Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.” –Buddha

The first step when you find that anger has reared its ugly head is to not respond to the provocation i.e. do not respond to anger with anger. Try delaying your response for several seconds (this is like the old “count to ten” method). This will train self-control and give some time to engage the brain. Note that your anger may be an appropriate response to some stimulus but having it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to express it by dumping it on the object of your anger.

Another important step in reducing anger is to treat others with kindness and compassion. This includes those who are not like you or don’t believe what you believe. This also includes those from a different ‘tribe’ i.e. family, neighborhood, village, gang, school, team, city, state, or country.

We are all humans who are trying to survive, feel safe, love and be happy. With few exceptions, mostly by those who have psychological, spiritual, brain, or psycho-social damage, we all make mistakes, want to make a difference and want to feel and be seen as being a good person.

We also share another common trait i.e. we don’t always know the right way to go about it. This is probably due to the fact that none of us came with an instruction manual although many have written down a number of rules and laws designed to give us guidance in this area often with limited success. The why of that limited success is also interesting e.g. the Ten Commandments seem to be a rational behavioral system to follow but how often do people actually follow them and what is it that gets in the way of doing so? That I believe is a discussion for another time.

 

Hint:

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