Have you found yourself having more vivid dreams? Have you been dreaming about some of your regular activities pre-COVID-19? I have. This is why I read a recent NYT article (April 13, 2020) by Caity Weaver, “Why Am I Having Weird Dreams Lately?” with keen interest.
Weaver’s article was based on the work of Deidre Barrett, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School who has been studying dreams for the past four decades. Dr. Barrett can go into detail about 90 minute R.E.M. cycles (Rapid Eye Movement cycles). She also explains how and why nightmares are prevalent with people dealing with PTSD, and how significant life changes can cause “unsettling dreams.”
What got my attention is her concept of Dream Incubation, which is a psychologist’s term for saying “attempting to program your dreams as you fall asleep.” Not that this was a new concept. 40 years ago I wrote about this in my book, Winning the Inner Game of Selling, – visualizing your goals both as you are about to drift off to sleep and through a self-hypnosis (relaxation-visualization) exercise.
Now we have Dr. Barrett sharing a 3-step process that, in her words, “has a pretty high success rate” in programming your dreams as you fall asleep.
Whether or not you’re having unsettling dreams, or like me, more vivid dreams involving pre-COVID-19 activities, or you’re not sure about your dreaming, taking the initiative to program your subconscious mind as you fall asleep will be beneficial to your psyche as well as your business.
The following is my adaptation of Dr. Barrett’s 3 steps…
3 Steps to Programming Your Dreams (Subconscious Mind)
Step 1: Choose a Category
Here is where you want to determine what you’d like to dream about. As I’ve coached this for years, my advice is to alternate between something personal one night and professional the next night. This is such a powerful exercise that it’s important to maintain balance in your subconscious programming.
The personal categories might be something along the lines of a family vacation, going fishing with your children, taking the family out to dinner, and so on. The professional categories could be purchasing your dream second home, making Barron’s Top 1200 state-by-state ranking of the nation’s top financial advisors, a new office, achieving your long-range business goals, etc.
Step 2: Get a Visual Representation
The idea is to get a picture that represents your personal category (European vacation, etc.) and another picture representing your professional category (dream second home, etc.).
What we think about as we go to bed impacts how we program our subconscious minds. This is one of the reasons that worrying can be so destructive. By viewing your personal category, just as you’d like it to be, right before you drift off to sleep, you’ve started the process of influencing your programming and becoming a stage director of your dreams. You’ve also taken a proactive step to prevent any form of destructive programming.
The same is true for your professional category, which is why I’ve always recommended that this visual image be some tangible representation of you achieving that BIG goal. Think of this as being aspirational.
Step 3: Repeat Your Visual Representation
You’ve looked at that picture of your dream second home (professional goal), you’ve turned the lights out, your heads now on the pillow as you prepare for sleep, and you keep repeating that visual representation of your professional goal. You’re seeing your second home, thinking of the joy it brings to your family, and so on as you drift off to sleep.
Does this guarantee that you will be able to control your dreams every night? Of course not. As Dr. Barrett explains, it works better than random dreaming but it’s not always accomplished.
What is reliable is the fact that you will become your own stage director in programming your subconscious mind. Planting your BIG dreams into your subconscious mind as you dream about them is far more powerful than most people realize.
Now that’s something for you to sleep on.