Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Short Course on Dream Interpretation

The more I've worked with dreams the more I've come to believe that what we have to learn from them is highly personal. Images that mean one thing to me will mean something entirely different to you. What I'd like to offer you today is a way to look at dreams that will help you uncover their meaning for yourself. There's no getting around it--you have to do the heavy lifting. To help you do that, here's a list to consider as you work to unravel your dream: triggers, characters, images, action, conflict and resolution.

The triggers: The first thing to look at is what is going on in your life at the time of the dream. Some event, or something that you saw, heard, or read, has triggered this dream. A dream is often about how you feel about the people and events swirling around outside you. Sometimes these churn up feelings from long ago or unresolved personal problems. Once you figure out what might have triggered the dream, think about how you feel about the issue. Your dream might offer a new way to see it. If you can't nail down the trigger, don't despair. Move on to the characters.

The characters
: Look at the dream from the point of view that all the characters are a part of you. The conflict that they are having is not a conflict between you and the people who appear in the dream, but between conflicting parts of the complicated person that you are. Ask yourself what the players in your dream represent. Make a list of their most obvious characteristics, and do this for the dream ego (you, in the dream) as well.

The images: Look at any images in the dream. What does each one mean to you? Write down the images and list your reactions to them.

The action: Look at the action in the dream. What are you doing? How do you feel about it? Is it something you enjoy, or does it make you unhappy or uncomfortable in some way? Is it something you normally do? Does it have symbolic value? For example, if I am planting a garden I might think of it as creating new growth for myself. Then I'd ask myself if I am doing that in waking life. If not, what is stopping me? Does it have anything to do with the characteristics that I share with my dream adversary?

The conflict
: What is your dream adversary doing? If his action destroys your action (he's messing up your carefully planted garden, for example), then you have the privilege of looking directly at an inner, unconscious conflict. That's progress!

The resolution: Finally, what does the conflict represent? What is one character (one aspect of you) trying to get another to do or to stop doing? How do you feel about it? And how does it turn out? Has the dream conflict been resolved? Or has it been put on hold?

Whether or not you feel you've resolved the dream's meaning or issue, going through this process will help you get to know that most mysterious being, yourself.


  1. thanks Crala, I like your insights a lot. I use four steps in dream interpretation myself:
    First: write down your dream. it will give you the opportunity to distance yourself from the story. A distance that you need to clearly analyse the story.
    Second: write down all the symbols of your dream story. Everything that stands out, everything that does not stand out, everything that has emotion in it.
    Step three: look at the list and write down the first thing that jumps in your mind.
    Step four: re-write the dream with those associations and see what this story has to tell you.
    Resolving conflicts in your dreams is a very consctructive way to resolve subconscious conflicts, thanks for sharing this!


  2. Thank you, Susanne. Thanks for pointing out that we need to write the dream down!

  3. Thanks for this concise article. I particularly like that you make reference to doing a character study of the character that is 'you' in the dream. This sometimes gets left out, but I find it incredibly helpful - because Dream-Me doesn't always act as Waking-Me does - and as you also point out, where there's an anomaly, there's a nugget of gold (useful information).

  4. Thank you, Fairie! I'm glad you emphasized the importance of looking at Dream-Me. I bet it would be helpful to focus on the behaviors that come as a surprise.

  5. This is really helpful, thank you!
    I wonder your advice on if you have written dreams down but not yet analyzed them, would it still be of benefit to go back and reflect even when a significant amount of time has passed and you can't remember the emotions present in the dreams or what was going on in your life?

  6. Yes, it is always helpful to look at dream content, even years later. You can write a list of the important words in the dream, and then under each of these words make another list of what springs to mind when you look at the dream word. It seems that the issues dreams address are consistent over time.