Since dreams are the creations of the subconscious mind, they’re all about emotions. There are very few logic-based dreams.
In fact, lack of logic is a defining characteristic of a dream. Illogicality and absurdity are how you know you’d been dreaming when you finally wake up and your logical, conscious mind takes back control.
Dreams are very much like arguing with an overly-emotional person. Such a person, when they argue, doesn’t make coherent arguments. Their subsequent sentences don’t logically follow from prior sentences. They’re all over the place.
What they’re really doing is expressing a dominant emotion (usually fear and anger) with no regard to the logic of what they’re saying.
Similarly, dreams express how we feel in the most absurd and illogical ways. There’s usually a dominant emotion or dream theme guiding the dream imagery. And figuring out this dominant emotion is the key to interpreting dreams.
Dreams are mostly a reflection of our emotions and feelings. Emotions and feelings are signals from our subconscious minds that help us navigate life. If you’re concerned about something all day, that concern can ‘spill over’ to your dreams. So, you’re concerned about the same thing in your dream too.
If you suppress an emotion because you’re too busy to deal with it, that suppressed emotion leaks out in your dream. Your mind’s like:
“No, no, no. You can’t ignore this emotion. Let’s deal with it in the dream.”
If you fail to deal with an emotion, despite your mind sending you dreams about it, your mind takes it to the next level by sending you recurring dreams.
“Hey! You HAVE to deal with this. Here! Here! Take it! Take more!”
If you don’t resolve your issues, the dreams will keep recurring. They’ll only fade away when you solve your issues or life renders your issues irrelevant over time.
Recurring dreams about the same place
If you’re having recurring dreams about the same place, the first thing you should do is figure out what emotion is tied to that place. What emotions does that place invoke in you?
When you visit your hometown or the school you went to, you not only get visual flashbacks of what you experienced there but also emotional flashbacks. You feel again what you felt there. It shows that places can be tied to emotions.
The place you keep dreaming about could be a place you visited once and want to see again. Your prior experience at this place was good. So, you want to re-experience those emotions. This would be a wish-fulfillment dream.
Moving to the grim side, it could be that you were somehow traumatized at this place. It takes a long time for the mind to make sense of a traumatic experience, unlike other experiences. This stickiness of traumatic experiences helps us learn from them.
The downside to this stickiness is that a traumatized person feels bad for too long. It takes them long to integrate their trauma into their psyche.
Dreams about a place where you were traumatized are your mind’s attempt to make sense of the trauma. These recurring dreams are usually experienced in the form of nightmares.
For example, soldiers who witness bloodshed in war are likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They get flashbacks from the war when they’re awake and when they sleep. It’s their mind trying to make sense of the trauma- trying to integrate it.
Additionally, your mind could be using that place as a symbol for some abstract concept such as freedom.
Say you moved from City A (Job a) to City B (Job b). You feel trapped in your new job ‘b’ in city ‘B’. The previous job ‘a’ in city ‘A’ gave you more freedom. Your mind associated ‘A’ with freedom. So, dreaming about A, again and again, is your desire to re-experience that freedom.
The mind uses more readily-available content like people and places to represent more abstract concepts through symbolism. Symbols can be cultural as well as individual. Symbols, like memories, are based on associations.
Dream déjà vu
Experiencing déjà vu in waking life is common. But have you ever experienced it in a dream?
Recurring dreams about the same place can trigger what can be called dream déjà vu. You’re at a place in your dream and you get the feeling you’ve been here before, in a previous dream!
This happens because, subjectively, there’s no difference between waking and dream experiences. They’re both registered in memory in the same way. The rules of memory that apply to waking experiences also apply to the dream world.
Like waking life, dream life can also be a playground for our creativity. In the real world, we modify our environments as we please. We build buildings, make cars, and grow plants. We wake up the next day and those things are still there.
Recurring dreams can be the same.
You can repeatedly visit a place in your dream that doesn’t exist in the real world. It’s entirely your mind’s creation. Your mind used bits and pieces of your memories to fabricate this place. Now, when you make changes to this place, those changes can stick.
If you build a house in that place, you can re-visit that house the next time you dream about that place.
I know this sounds like Inception but it happens because, to the mind, there’s no difference between dream and real-world memories.