January 16, 2018


 By Mimi Pettibone

Many of us will experience a dream that repeats over a period of time in our lives. It might be for only a short while, or for the duration of a life time. The story, characters and setting may be exactly the same each time, or there might be a common theme or plot, with various elements changing each time the dream is experienced.

So why do we have these re-runs during the night? Recurring dreams happen every time a recurring situation or issue comes up in our life. The key to unraveling the mystery of what is causing the dream is to do a little dream detective work. Here are some investigative questions to guide you on the right path:

  1. When was the first time you had this dream?
  2. When was the last, most recent time you had it?
  3. How often does it occur?
  4. How do you feel during the dream?
  5. How do you feel when you wake up?

Look at the time span from when you first and last had the dream, and consider what was (or is) going on in your life at that time. For example, if the dream started 3 years ago and is still occurring, ask yourself what changed in your life 3 years ago and is still going on today? If it happened between ages 25-30, think about what was going on during those years. Did you start a new job, move, change relationship status or go back to school? Those are major life events, but it could be anything that is significant to you, even something that is on your mind.

The next step is to look at how often the dream occurs. Is it once a week, once a year, or somewhere in between? Tracking down the pattern of the timing may take some more investigative work, but will pay off and is another clue that will point to the source of what is causing this dream for you. For example, if you said you had the dream once a week, and we figured out it was on Tuesday nights, I would ask what you do on Tuesday nights. If you said you go to a book club, we might look at what goes on with the interpersonal dynamics of the group, or your interactions with one person in particular, or possibly even the topic of the book being read. We would then work further to uncover the metaphors and symbolism of the dream, and see how they connect to the recurring waking life event or concern.

Another step is to look at the feelings you had during the dream, which is always an important part of dream work. How you felt during the dream is usually more relevant than how you felt after waking. Upon waking we tend to judge the dream from our rational, logical mind, which is not the language of the dreaming mind. Upon waking we might feel like ‘that was weird’ or ‘I would never do that’ or ‘I’m not attracted to that person in waking life!’ However, we felt differently in the dream. The dream has cast those characters and scripted those actions for a reason, and investigating the symbolism and metaphors behind them, as well as our feelings, will lead to more clues that help us understand what the dream is really trying to tell us.

The messages of our dreams are always in our highest and best interest. They are in alignment with our higher selves, our true life path, and they want us to have the best relationships possible. They will go to great length to get our attention, including bizarre story lines and characters, and repeating a theme until we get the message. Once you have ‘gotten’ the message of a recurring dream, it usually stops! It’s like someone who keeps knocking at your door until you open it. Knock knock…are you ready to listen?


Mimi Pettibone is a professional dream worker and creator of the Enchanted Art Oracle Cards (available at East West Bookshop and on Etsy). She offers private consultations at East West Bookshop and by phone including dream interpretation, relationship and life path coaching, tarot and oracle readings. Her background includes humanistic and social psychology, relationships and communication skills, linguistics, spirituality, and consciousness. Mimi is also a monthly dream columnist for the New Spirit Journal Online

For more info on Mimi, or to book a consultation: 

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