We’ve all had those dreams where we’re being attacked by some unknown assailant. The reasons for this are various and we’ll discuss them later. However, when we try to fight back the results are often less than satisfactory.
A lot of people have reported that in a dream they just can’t throw a punch. Your movements are extremely sluggish and you seem drunk, barely able to swing a fist over your head. If it does connect, then it does little to no damage to your imagined attacker.
Does the lack of strength and force in your dreams indicate some outer physical weakness? Or maybe it’s the result of some inner character defect, manifesting itself as a physical weakness? Maybe if you put more into your weight training then you’ll see better results when you next do a few rounds with your dream opponent?
The truth is, none of the above are true. Some basic neurological issues affect the strength of your dream-manifested self which, no matter how many hours you put in on the treadmill or in the boxing gym, you will be unable to rectify.
We’re going to explore the reasons why dreamworld physics behaves the way it does, as well as a few of the psychological causes of why you might be fighting in your dreams, as well as some other strange sleep phenomenon that might affect you from time to time.
Okay, so let’s get stuck into the neurological reasons why throwing a punch is so hard in your dreams. Well, it might seem obvious, but it is mainly to do with the fact that your body is completely inactive during sleep.
Your physical person always affects how you move and how you throw a punch. We always get sensory feedback from our muscles and nerves in a kind of call and response from the brain. Without any physical stimulus, the brain is unable to gauge just how hard to swing.
When you swing your fists, the brain calculates the weight of the arm, the strength of the muscle and the softness of the target being hit. Without these, the brain is simply relying on guesswork, which is why it interprets this information in a way that seems sluggish and drunk.
The thalamus, that is, the part of the brain that regulates sensory output amongst numerous other functions clamps down on the transmission of the motor signals that you need to complete the movement, as well as the perception of joint-motion data. That is why it feels like you’re swimming through jelly!
In short, your brain knows that it’s asleep when it’s dreaming, only you are under such the illusion of the dream world. However, there are a few instances between conscious and unconscious thinking where you might start thrashing about in bed as these sensory inputs start waking up.
There are methods in which we can heighten our awareness when we’re in our dreams, leading to a much greater degree of control and ability to distort our dream world – that state is called lucid dreaming.
In a nutshell, lucid dreaming is when the dreamer is aware they’re in a dream and can, to a certain extent, control the content of what’s going on. Practiced lucid dreaming is a method used by psychiatrists and hypnotherapists to give the dreamer a better sense of understanding and control of certain negative recurring dreams.
A simple way to improve your metacognition – awareness that you’re thinking – is by checking in with your reality throughout the day. Tick off a few of the following things:
- Ask yourself the question: “Am I Dreaming?” Doing this will increase the chances of it happening while you’re dreaming.
- Check your environment to make sure that you’re dreaming. Hold the table, touch your coffee cup, ask yourself if they are real.
- Look into a mirror – is there anything strange about your reflection?
This is but one of the few methods of increasing your cognition of being asleep. Maybe when you’re in this heightened state of control, you can practice that dream swinging fist to make yourself a better fighter in your nighttime imagination.
Why Do We Fight In Our Dreams?
But maybe it might be more productive to ask yourself why you’re fighting in your dreams in the first place?
In-dream fighting could often be the result of inner conflicts that you’re suppressing in the waking world.
Fighting could be the result of stress, unresolved tension from an argument the previous day, some unhappiness with an aspect of yourself or dealing with a situation that you feel is beyond your control.
Who is the person you are fighting in your dream? If it is somebody you know, then that person might represent some issue that you have with them (however, this is not always the case, as they could also represent some aspect of your personality that you aren’t happy with).
If it is a mysterious or unknown figure that you’re fighting then this could represent an event, person or experience that you feel is robbing you of your control.
Remember: the brain interprets emotions and information in odd, unexpected ways. Everything in the dream world is a reflection of yourself and yourself alone. One way to prevent these violent dreams from recurring is by seeking a professional therapist.
Flying In Dreams
Another odd phenomenon that is loosely connected with lucid dreaming is that of flying without the need of an airplane.
Flying above the trees and houses is usually an incredibly liberating experience for the dreamer, being associated with a newfound feeling of freedom that you have achieved in your life, a greater sense of control or a new experience that has recently entered your life.
If you research the different methods of enhancing your metacognition mentioned above, then the chances are that in your next dream you could indeed be soaring high over all your earthly concerns. The sense of invincibility that it gives you could drastically improve your mood upon waking the next morning.