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UNDERSTANDING YOUR DREAMS

This page gives you the basic tools for analysing your dreams. Because your dreams are unique, the best approach is to treat them like a story. Below are a series of questions about the different elements to consider when analysing your dreams. Then you can go to the "dream themes" page and compare them to your dream.

This technique is explained in more detail in my book "Dreampower".

 

Getting started - a dream diary.

The first step in analysing your dreams is to keep a record of them.

Mostly this is done in a "dream diary", which is a book in which you write down your dreams.

Some people find it easier to use a tape recorder or other technology.

Whichever method suits you, it is best to record your dream on waking, so that later events don't change or erase your memory of your dream.

Suggestion: Some people like to turn their "dream diary" into a journal, in which they record dreams, images, drawings and illustrations or special events which have meaning for them personally. You might find this very rewarding.

Tip: Your personal journal is yours, you don't have to share it with others and then only with people you trust.

How to record your dreams.

You need to be able to place your dreams in context. This means relating your dreams to what is happening in your life at present and to your feelings. When you are recording your dreams, it is most helpful if you:

  • Note what is happening in your life at the time;
  • Record the narrative, story and/or images in the dream;
  • Ask yourself how you felt about the events and images in the dream while you were dreaming; and
  • Ask yourself how you feel about the dream now, when you are awake.

Recording the dream story.

Dreams tend to have the same elements that all stories do.

When you record your dreams, look for the:

  • Setting;
  • Characters;
  • Action; and
  • Conclusion or resolution.

The setting

Where does the dream take place?

Is the place:

  • Familiar or unknown or even fantastic
  • Relating to the present, future or past
  • Private, such as your home or public, such as a city street
  • Is the place crowded

The characters

The most important character in the dream is you.

What are you doing? What are you feeling? How are you responding to the dream events? (Psychotherapists sometimes use the term "dream ego" to distinguish you in your dreams from you in your waking life).

Who else is in the dream?

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Colleagues
  • Acquaintances
  • People you haven't seen for some time
  • Famous people

Are there animals in the dream? Are they:

  • Your pet
  • Domestic
  • Wild
  • Extinct
  • Fantastic

The action

This is the storyline of the dream.

  • Where does the dream start?
  • Where does it end?
  • How does the story progress - is it clear and direct, or complex, taking detours and diversions?

What is the main theme?

  • a journey
  • family gathering
  • a performance or public speech
  • an exam
  • shopping
  • flying

The conclusion or resolution

  • How does it end
  • Is there an end
  • Does it end with a question
  • Are issues left unresolved
  • How have things changed from the beginning

Your feelings

It is important to note:

  • whether the feelings in the dream are appropriate for the subject-matter of the dream; and
  • whether your feelings in the dream and the feelings you have on waking are the same.