I recently read this article called “Eight Ironic Effects of Thought Suppression”. It was about how trying to suppress a thought would make it come back even stronger and linger even longer, and therefore people cannot not think of a white bear when asked to not think of a white bear.
The article also talked about how people are more likely to dream about subjects they are specifically trying to avoid. So if you are having nightmares, perhaps it’s a good idea to stop suppressing those thoughts during the day, so they don’t come to haunt you at night. I don’t have nightmares very often, though, so what have I been suppressing?
Many people have this nightmare of being late to a test. Well, being late to an exam is also a recurring dream of mine, but I wouldn’t call it a nightmare. In the dream I would usually go to the classroom and saw nobody there. And I would realized that the exam actually took place several hours ago. Instead of panic, I would say to myself, “you know what? I don’t really care.” and go walk around the campus and enjoy the scenery.
Now, what’s with this dream? Perhaps I was too responsible in being where I was supposed to be and suppressing that urge to say “eh, I don’t really care” during the day?
How about those wacky dreams? I sometimes have these dreams in which a bunch bizarre and somewhat amusing things happen. And a few times I actually woke up laughing because the dreams were so funny.
Now, what was I suppressing during the day? Perhaps I suppressed some wacky thoughts. Perhaps I was trying very hard to not say so many stupid things in my daily life. I still think of weird things and say many stupid things.
Or maybe that research just has to do with scary and annoying things that people are trying to avoid and has nothing to do with what I am talking about here. Did you actually read the research paper? Me either.