What Do Our Dreams Mean?

Psychotherapist in Union Square NYC

When we think about dreaming and interpreting the meaning of dreams, it can be an exciting feeling to tap into that layer of ourselves. There are several tools and guiding principles to analyze the meaning of our dreams. One of the most central ways to approach the meaning of the dreams is by seeing your dreams as a place where you work out some of your thoughts and feelings, related to your waking life. As we allow our minds to enter a space between conscious experience and unconsciousness, we meet a world where we have parts of ourselves we already know. The other part is the unconscious world of our thoughts and feelings, where we may “know” things but not allow ourselves to think them, or feel them. Sometimes in our dreams those are the symbols our mind chooses in order to see them in a story, and feel the emotions tied to those unconscious parts.

For example, if a person recalls a dream where they see themselves on a road, in a car, where they are lost and confused, and then in the road ahead they see a large grizzly bear. The bear attacks the car as it comes toward it, and the dreamer feels scared, and doesn’t know what happened but feels the terror of facing off with the bear, and then wakes before hitting it.

In this dream, we can imagine all kinds of emotions. What are your initial thoughts and feelings? By Gestalt analyzing principles, when we look at the parts of the story, there are the following characters: the driver or self, the car, the road, the bear. These are some of the basic elements of the narrative, but they can also been seen as parts of ourselves. In other words, you the dreamer are yourself, you are the car, you are the road, and you are the bear. To further analyze this, you must re-tell the dream from each vantage point. Such as: “I am a large grizzly bear who is crossing a road, I see a thing coming at me, I am fearful, and angry.” Or, “I am a car, being driven along a long road by a driver. The driver is making me go fast, I am confused, but try my best to go take her places, make her journey possible. I see a bear in the road ahead, I feel terrified, I don’t want to run into the bear, but I am being forced to go on, go ahead.” Each version of the dream are parts of yourself, the dreamer which we are unconsciously choosing in order to feel parts of our experience that we do not usually allow ourselves to feel or know. This exercise in deconstructing the dream gives us the ability to see the dream as an expression of an issue or feeling we are trying to resolve, with characters that embody parts of ourselves.

This is only one of the many methods to analyze dreams and find meaning in their message. One of the best ways to use dream material for analysis is to journal when you wake up. It is also important to set the intention of recalling the dream, before you fall asleep. Reminding yourself to try and remember the dream is a helpful tool in being able to recall the dream. If you want to read more on dreams, look for books or essays by Carl G. Jung, or Fritz Perls, as they are both masters of this wonderful work.

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