THE LOVE FOR gambling is in my genes – the paternal side. My father would often say that his mother relentlessly gambled to the point that practically all of their land and other properties were mortgaged and eventually sold to pay for her gambling debts.

My father did not learn the lesson of the ills of gambling and would do it often to the chagrin of my mother who hated the very idea. Naturally all his children gamble –including me – but we only play mahjong and at home among us and our relatives – from my father’s side, of course.

When I was single, we would often have mahjong marathons – no sleep and continuous gambling for 24 hours or more. During those times, I would dream and talk in my sleep of mahjong (and winning) or a nightmare of losing badly.

The mahjong sessions continued even when we (my wife and I) went to the States but was almost completely stopped upon our return to the university. My wife was probably influenced by my mother because she refused to let me play mahjong anymore. As a compromise, she said that I could play but only during a wake. Since wakes are very few and far between, I have not really played mahjong for several decades.

I’ve had gambling dreams in the early stages of trying to change my relationship with gambling. But the frequency of these dreams decreased with time.

Dreams are essentially a way in which the brain processes information and memories. While you dream, some parts of your brain are more active than others. The active parts are often those that process emotions, memories and sensations, while the parts responsible for logic and reasoning are often quieter. This is why dreams can often seem so realistic.

It’s important to remember, according to research, that just because you’ve had a gambling dream, does not mean that you want to gamble. What’s more important than the dream itself, is how you deal with it afterwards.

Gambling dreams can be highly triggering for some people, and therefore make them a risk for relapse. If you’ve had a gambling dream and are feeling out of sorts, take some time after waking up to reset for the day ahead. Here are some suggestions from experts on how to do this:

(a) Take some time to ground yourself in the present moment. Have a few deep breaths and focus all your attention on your breathing. Use your senses to anchor yourself in the present moment by noticing your surroundings. Focus on what you can see, hear and feel in your environment.

(b) Remind yourself that it was just a dream. It doesn’t necessarily have any meaning, other than that which we choose to give it. We can choose to give the dream no meaning at all. (c) Turn to a reading you find helpful. If you don’t have any of these, now might be a good time to plan ahead for triggering moments. Readings, prayers, affirmations, useful quotes, or any sort of helpful texts can be reassuring when we are triggered or having difficulty with our relationship to gambling. (By Manny Palomar, PhD, EV Mail July 4-10, 2022 Issue)