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Analyzing Your Dreams

June 17, 2009

In my life-coach-training program, I was taught how to analyze dreams. It’s not just a skill for me to teach my clients, though, it’s something I’ve been encouraged to use in my own life.

This is not your standard “pick up a book about dreams from the library and match the symbols to what happened in your dream” method.  You’ve seen that, right? The list looks something like this:

  • Beaver – the ability to create stuff, like dams
  • Yellow – a positive outlook on life, gee whiz!
  • Teeth – not expressing yourself well enough to your parole officer

I agree that the people, places, and things in our dreams are not to be taken literally (so, no, Brad Pitt is not going to sweep you off your feet, sorry), but I think each person needs to come up with their own meanings, because no one else knows that to you a beaver doesn’t mean creating stuff, it means childhood trauma, since that one time a beaver broke into your tree house and stole your baseball cards.

I’m going to demonstrate how to analyze your own dreams using one of my dreams from last night. I analyzed this dream this morning but don’t remember what on earth I wrote, so hopefully this isn’t too embarrassing. Warning to my mother: you were in this dream, but the way you were isn’t how I really see you!

I was waiting in a really long line at an airport. Leslie Goldman, who is an author and blogger, amongst other things, was this combo flight attendant/airport helper type person talking to us in line. I was very close to missing my flight since the line was so damn long. My mom was also there, she wasn’t in line, but was off to the side, asking me really annoying questions, things like if I was going to make it on the plane, if the plane was going to get wherever it was going safely, etc. She just seemed really freaked out and nervous. Then, oddly, the airplanes were actually in the airport, but they were squatter than normal airplanes.  And they were taking off right there, but kind of just straight up; they didn’t need a long runway to take flight. I feel bad for being short with my mother, because I am stressed out and don’t want to deal with her fears. The End.

To analyze a dream you want to draw three columns, but I’m too blog-illiterate to figure out how to do that, so we’re just going to take it one column at a time.

Column One, on the left side of your paper: List all the important people, places, events:

  • Long line at airport
  • Being late
  • Leslie Goldman
  • Mom
  • Planes taking off in airport
  • Guilt

Column two, in the center of your page, is where you start to dissect what the symbols in your dream mean to you. To do this you have to be the object. You’re going to list three adjectives or phrases to describe yourself, as the object.  So when I wrote this down I was thinking, “I am the long line at the airport and I am…”, not “I, Jen, think long lines at the airport are…” Got it? Okay, this is what I came up with:

  • (long line)Slow-moving, impatient, takes too long
  • (being late)Fear and doubt (sometimes three things just don’t come up)
  • (Leslie Goldman)A writer, blogger, work for self
  • (Mom)Scared, anxious, getting in the way
  • (airplanes taking off) Not enough space, make it work, wrong shape
  • (my guilt) Not helpful, pointless

Huh, so this dream has absolutely nothing to do with airports, I can tell you that right now!

The third column, all the way to the right on your paper, is when you again become the symbol and ponder the question, “How am I trying to help the dreamer?” So I would become the long line at the airport and answer how I was trying to help Jen. Here’s what I got:

  • (long line) She can get out, she has a choice
  • (late) You’re the only one who thinks you’re late or behind
  • (Leslie) I’m trying to show her it can happen
  • (Mom) I’m trying to show her anxiety and fear are blocking her
  • (planes taking off in airport) There is always a way
  • (guilt) If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it

To me this is completely and utterly about my current struggle to flesh out my coaching business and become a published author. I always stress that I’m not “doing” enough to move my dreams forward, but when I look back at what I’ve accomplished over the past year, I’m amazed. Leslie Goldman is someone I look up to, and her appearance in the dream shows me that I can make the life I want happen. The fear messages from my mom are really my own constant fear messages, and the dream is trying to show me how completely useless they are, they only stop me from getting closer to my dreams. Obviously, the planes in the airport and their helpful statement are showing me I can make it work, there is always a way. And lastly, again, bad feelings get me nowhere.

If you want to start analyzing your own dreams, take the following steps:

  1. Bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies if you have a live-in partner
  2. Get a journal and writing utensil
  3. Put it somewhere close to your bed
  4. Tell yourself, before you fall asleep, that you’re going to remember your dreams
  5. Turn on the light and force yourself to get up and write down your dream right when you wake up, no matter what time it is! You will absolutely forget details of it if you don’t do this!
  6. Hand live-in partner a chocolate chip cookie as a peace offering for waking them
  7. In the morning, analyze your dream
  8. Make fresh batch of cookies

Give it a try, the results may surprise and, more importantly, guide you!

Be Joyful!

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