Dream a Little Dream

Analyzing your dreams can uncover innermost truths

By Barbara Pierce

dreamer“What a weird dream! Whatever could it mean?”

You’ve probably said that, puzzling over what that crazy dream you had last night really means.

Or you may wonder why you keep having the same dream over and over again.

For most of us, dreams are a mystery. They usually don’t make a lot of sense — if we can remember them in the first place. Within a few minutes after waking up, we’ve forgotten most of the dreams we had during the night.

Many of us dismiss our dreams as nothing. But dreams are a valuable way for us to understand ourselves better, maybe get answers we need, and help us figure things out.

“There is always something to learn about yourself in a dream,” says psychotherapist Jeffrey Sumber online.

I strongly agree; I’ve had dreams that gave me answers. Years ago, I was seeing a man who wanted to get married. I was ambivalent; he was pushing me for an answer. Then I dreamed it was our wedding and all our friends were gathered. As he and I walked down the aisle, we were naked. All of those watching were fully clothed; we were naked. I woke up and said, “I absolutely do not want to marry Jim! That’s clear!”

Dreams have the power to reveal ourselves to ourselves. They can provide us with a wealth of information.

But don’t rush to a website or app that promises you they have the right interpretation for your dream. Those websites and “dream interpretation professionals” are no better than frauds — there is no scientific evidence they have any validity.

The key is to figure out what the dream means to you.

Dreams are subjective in nature. Only you can make sense of your dream. No dream interpreter, psychotherapist or spiritual guru can help you better uncover the meaning of your own dream better than you.

Dreaming is the communication between our conscious mind and our unconscious mind, says Sumber. And that wisdom can be profoundly helpful to us if we can tap into it.

How to analyze your dreams

— Record your dreams: This is the first and most important step in analyzing your dreams. Get into the practice of writing down your dreams within five minutes of waking up.

— Have a pen and paper by your bed. Jot something down, even if it’s just a few sentences, when you awake — whether at night or in the morning. Your intention to have a dream and make an effort to remember it in itself will help you to recall dreams.

— Don’t jump right out of bed. When you wake up in the morning, lie still. Relax and let your mind drift. With practice, you can easily hover between waking and dreaming without falling back to sleep. Remind yourself that you want to remember your dream. Don’t start running through lists of what you have to do during the day. If you do, your dream probably will evaporate immediately.

— Write, write, and write. Most dreams are forgotten within five minutes, so start scribbling as soon as you remember the first snippet of a dream. Write down whatever you remember immediately. Act quickly or you will forget. If you can’t remember anything, identify how you were feeling and that might bring back more details.

— Tell someone. It is surprising how many extra details surface if you talk about your dream.

— Identify themes that reoccur in your dreams. They indicate you have an unresolved issue.

— Remember you’re the expert. “There are no experts other than yourself when it comes to your own psyche, so don’t stop trusting your own inner guide to your unconscious,” Sumber says.

You can learn a lot from even the most mundane dreams.

Another thing is that dreams are your body’s way of processing stimuli from your life.

For example, if you hear, smell, or feel anything while you are sleeping, your dream may try to make sense of this, to prevent you from waking up.

I dreamt workers were jack hammering the street outside of my house. When I woke up, someone was grinding coffee beans in my kitchen.

People that stop doing something addictive, like drugs, often have dreams of using. This can be disturbing, but it’s the brain’s way of trying to figure out what is going on.

The things that you see, smell, hear or do right before bed can affect your dreams. I play my favorite video game before going to bed; sometimes I play in it my sleep.

Experts advise us to “de-stress” before going to sleep, as stress can disturb sleep and dreaming.

Don’t argue before bedtime, go to bed angry or work on stressful things like taxes or big work-school projects right before bedtime.

If you have to deal with something stressful, do so well before your bedtime, so that you have time to relax and prepare your mind for good dreams.

• Barbara Pierce is a retired licensed clinical social worker with many years of experience helping people. If you would like to purchase a copy of her book, “When you Come to the Edge: Aging” or if you have questions for her, contact her at barbarapierce06@yahoo.com.