Are you asking yourself whether to pursue that risky but potentially rewarding career path? Or how to stay closer to a distant teenager? Wondering if it’s worth it to remain faithful in a rocky relationship? Our lives are filled with decisions– for ourselves and our families, and even others telling us what decisions to make! The fact is, deep down we usually know the right choice for us, and our dreams can help us access that inner wisdom.
It’s not that dreams hold a magical answer about the absolute right or wrong thing to do in any given situation. There is no absolute right or wrong! Rather, interpreting your dreams can help you reach your inner advisor for the most appropriate solutions for you. A dream is the interior, problem-solving conversation between your conscious and your unconscious mind. Further, at the surface level, every dream is triggered by something that either happened to you or something you thought about, the day before you had the dream.
The thoughts you mull over (or try not to) during the day continue to engage your mind as you sleep. With this in mind, when doing dream analysis, I always have two goals. The first is to help you (the dreamer) attach your dream to the very specific waking experience that’s bugging you. I developed a 6-Point-of-Entry method to help you accomplish this end. Once we know the subject you were addressing in the dream, my focus is always to help you uncover what a solution looks like when it comes in the form of a metaphor.
I recommend you write your dream down first, leaving room for jotting notes and associations. Once that’s done, here are the six specific “Points of Entry” you can use that will help you discover the waking-life situation your dream is reflecting:
1. Isolate your feelings.
Write down the feelings you had during the dream alongside the scenes where those feelings occurred. Pay particular attention to any changes in your feelings, asking yourself how you felt at the beginning, then as different events happened, and finally at the end. Then consider: did a recent event or problem in your life trigger the same feelings?
2. Identify the symbols.
Circle each symbol that appears in your dream description. Anything in a dream can be a symbol, including objects, animals, and people.
Write down a few things that come to mind about each one. You may find yourself writing down qualities or characteristics, or an incident that the symbol brings to mind. Describe it as if to a child or a person who has never seen it.
Write everything down uncensored, and don’t try too hard to figure out the symbol’s meaning. Stick to describing the symbol and your feelings about it.
3. Play on Words and Puns
Talk through your dream aloud, whether you’re alone or with a partner. I often hear dreams described with phrases like, “I was in a bathroom, and I was stuck in a stall.” This prompts me to ask, “Is there a current situation where you are stalling about something?” The words you use may reflect your hidden thoughts, so pay careful attention to your words and ask yourself whether they also apply to a current situation in your life.
4. The Action
Take note of what you are doing in your dream, and also what other dream-characters are doing. Write any comments or associations you have about the actions alongside the action noted, then ask yourself whether you feel like you’re doing the same thing in a recent situation.
5. The Plot
If the previous steps haven’t helped you click on the situation the dream is mirroring, try the plot. This is exactly the same as what we learned in English class. What is the story behind the story? Look at what is really going on in the dream to find a similar issue you’re dealing with this week.
Our dreams will repeat a meaning to make sure we get the message. I saw this when my first book came out and I was invited to appear on TV for the first time. Leading up to my trip, I dreamed of a ghost. In my personal vocabulary of associations, this means I am scared. Later in the same dream, I was standing on the abyss of a cliff, feeling scared. And later I dreamed about my Grade Five teacher, who always scared the heck out of me!
The three completely different symbols, once decoded, showed me saying to myself, “I’m scared. I’m scared. I’m scared.” When interpreting this dream I asked, “What am I feeling so frightened about?”
Discovering the Solution
It is illuminating to uncover how a dream mirrors your current dilemma and represents your thoughts and emotions around it. By bringing your attention to all your knowledge and feelings, even those you may have been suppressing, your dreams can help you make decisions that reflect your deepest self and your highest priorities.
Your dreams can offer an even deeper source of wisdom when you consider that every part of your dream represents a different aspect of you. The whole dream was created by your mind, so all of its symbols offer a potential that’s already inside you. If you have a thorny problem to solve or a difficult decision to make, you may discover the solution by taking on the behavior of someone who appears in the dream and applying it in your waking-life situation.
Finally, understanding your dream emotions can help you access your inner power. To see how this happens, consider the frightened feelings that triggered my “scared” dream. Once I understood the repetition of this emotion in my dream, I could acknowledge my fear and face it head on, which allowed me to release and relax by the time I was on camera. This is just one small example of how we can achieve happier, richer lives through understanding our dreams. My hope is this introduction will be only the beginning of so much more there is to say about our dreams!