Sue decides to leave the party and as she turns to go she sees an admired professor from college on the other side of the room. Sue has always delighted in talking to this person, but tonight she is tired and a little down so she just turns to leave. Outside in the parking lot, the professor has caught up with her and they start to talk. The conversation turns to her singing ability. The professor suggests that she sing professionally. Sue argues that her voice isn’t very good. Her argument prompts the professor to start searching for a recorder so that she can hear how well she sings. The scene fades and Sue finds herself awake.
Now, that was a strange dream. What does it mean? Does it mean anything? Sue has always enjoyed singing along to the radio in the car, but did she miss her true calling in life to be a singer? Should she call up that old professor to find out if he knows about singing opportunities?
Although some people may have dreams that predict future events, most dreams reflect emotions left over from the day’s events or unconscious feelings arising from unresolved conflict either from the previous day or from the far past. Dreams give a snapshot of what is “up” for us at any one time. You can choose to simply chuckle about your “weird” dreams or you can take a closer look. Dream interpretation is personal. The same scenario dreamt by two different people may mean very different things.
Simple Guide to Dream Interpretation
1) Remember as much of the dream as possible. The best way to do this is to write the dream out as soon as you awake. As you write you will remember more of the details. Dream interpretation is like solving a puzzle. The more clues you have the better.
2) Become aware of the overall feeling the dream has left you with. Did it scare you or leave you feeling happy or hopeful? It may be helpful to consider what situation in your life the dream may be about. Dreams are a symbolic reflection of what is happening in our day to day life, even if the dream events appear completely unrelated.
3) Now go through the dream piece by piece, starting with the characters. The first idea to get rid of is the notion that people in the dream represent people in real life. The professor in Sue’s dream is not the actual professor from Sue’s past. He is simply a character in Sue’s dream. The dream isn’t about that professor and his desire that Sue be a singer. The dream is all about Sue. With each character in your dream ask yourself what they represent to you. For instance, the professor could represent authority figures to one person, could be a gentle teacher to another, or could be more abstract idea, such as “everything I always wanted to be”.
4) Once you have an idea what the characters represent, you can do the same with other situations or objects in the dream. Perhaps you dreamt you couldn’t find your car – ask yourself what your car represents. The car may be a symbol for their physical body to one person or may represent a way of getting through life to another. If you can’t figure out what a thing means to you, just skip it. Other parts of the dream may give you clues to figure it out later, or perhaps it wasn’t an important part of the dream.
5) Start putting the pieces of information together to tell a story. An important way to determine what the plot of the story means is to reflect on what has been going on in your everyday life. Remember, dreams are personal. Let’s use Sue’s dream as an example of how to do this.
Sue has been feeling dissatisfied with her life lately. The activities that she used to like to do no longer interest her. She decides to interpret this dream in order to get a deeper understanding about what is going on within herself. The dream left her with the overall feeling of being hesitant or conflicted. She decides the party is her old life and activities. They used to be fun (hence a party) but now she is feeling tired and disinterested (hence she leaves). The professor is someone that in the past she would have never missed an opportunity to talk to. In the dream she doesn’t even want to talk to him. Yet, he shows up outside to talk to her. This suggest although she is leaving the past behind, she will be bringing parts of it with her in a different form. The professor represents a fresh perspective on who she is. She is still the same Sue, but he sees her differently than she sees herself. Sue likes singing, but knows that she has no desire to be a singer. She guesses that the singing represents another area of self expression. In her case it’s cooking. She’s always enjoyed cooking, but it was never an important part of her life. She realizes that she’d like to deepen her cooking knowledge and activities, but is worried that although she has some interest she doesn’t have any real talent. More conscious of her conflicted feelings, Sue considers signing up for a class on a new type of cooking and volunteering at the local soup kitchen as a cook.
Take some time to analyze the next dream you have. Dream interpretation can be a lot of fun. Dreams are an expression of emotions and feelings and reflect what’s alive in your life at the moment. When you analyze your dreams you achieve a greater connection with your fears and hopes. Being able to “know thyself” is the first step to having a more fulfilling life as it enables you to make better choices that satisfy and nourish you.