We all dream as we sleep. Some of our dreams help us work out the more important issues or events in our life that cause us feelings of stress, worry, joy, or fear that we do not recognize during the day. Sometimes we remember the dreams and sometimes we don’t. But the feelings during the dream are always present whether we remember them or not. You can use these feelings to understand how your dreams try to help you deal with your life issues. These feelings may lead to a more valid interpretation than any generalized book of dream interpretation can provide.
Interpret Your Dreams Using Recent Experiences
Sometimes my clients cannot identify the specific issue that is troubling them. I can usually help them reveal the underlying issue if they can report a recent emotionally significant dream.
We are often not conscious of how our experiences affect us in the moment. But within the next couple of days from the experience we might have a dream that has a strong feeling attached to it. That is our unconscious mind’s way of helping us to be more aware of how we feel about something currently going on in our life. This awareness can help us deal with these uncomfortable or unclear emotions associated with our experiences.
You may have a dream about being chased and cannot recognize the people in your dream. However the feeling of fear or being pushed is very strong. In the last couple of days have you experienced something that caused you fear or a feeling of being pushed in a certain direction or action? Often you will be more open to exploring that issue in your unconscious sleep. That is because when we sleep our subconscious mind (literally our unconscious mind) is not restrained from dealing with uncomfortable feelings and situations. Therefore we can more easily understand a situation that causes a particular feeling.
This example of feeling fear and being pushed to do something in our dream might relate to an experience earlier in the week where a coworker was trying to talk you into applying for a management position. The coworker pushing you resembles the feeling of being pushed in your dream. The feeling of fear in the dream may be your fear of not getting a promotion and feeling rejected. This is one possibility. The correct answer depends on your individual experience or situation.
You attend a dance and do not know a single person there. The feeling is one of loneliness even though you are surrounded by people. Perhaps you are beginning to be more aware of how isolated you feel and how difficult it is to make friends or to find a mate.
Example: Feeling Strong
In your dream you are yelling at someone you do not recognize and you feel strong in doing so. Perhaps you recently had an argument with a friend but you struggled to stand up for yourself. The dream shows you how you might feel stronger when you believe in yourself and speak up.
Example: Embarrassment and Vulnerability
Another common dream involves full or partial nakedness in public. We feel embarrassed and vulnerable. Did you recently feel vulnerable? Perhaps someone made fun of you for not knowing something regarding work?
This dream may involve feeling vulnerable by not being in control and feeling fearful of the outcome. Perhaps within the last two days your boss is forcing you to take a position that you don’t believe in, which you must accept or lose your job. Or perhaps you believe your child is involved in a dangerous situation but she will not allow you to get involved. Keep in mind that the correct interpretation depends on your individual experience or situation. You may be able to work this out on your own. But if not, you may want to seek out the help of a psychotherapist.
How to Remember Your Dreams: Action Item
- Keep a journal by your bed and write down your dream as soon as you wake up. Just jot down a basic idea of what happened and especially the feeling attached to the event. When did you recently have that similar feeling?
- Practice remembering your dreams, whether significant or not. The more you can remember your dreams the easier and more often you will be able to recall them.
- Before you close your eyes to sleep, tell yourself you want to remember your dreams for the next morning. The more you say this before you fall asleep the more likely you are to remember them.
Yes, dogs and cats can be seen running in their sleep. They too remember activities and relive them in their dreams.