Sigmund Freud stated, “Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.” Carl Jung felt that, “The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the psyche.” However, what is the purpose of our dreams?
Dreams show qualities of our selves which need to be currently either downplayed or incorporated more into our lives in order to create psychic balance. These traits are shown to the dreamer through the actions of dream characters or dream animals.
Start by naming two or three traits of the dream figure. Marie-Louise von Franz suggested asking, “What is it in me that does that?” Identifying and humbling acknowledging these shadow or previously disowned parts of our selves is vital for our personal growth.
Dreams are a way in which our true self holds up a mirror to us and says, “This is my take on what’s really going on.” As archetypal psychologist James Hillman stated, “A dream tells you where you are, not what to do.” We may outwardly think that ‘everything’s okay’ and yet, our dreams may show us chaotic scenes.
Professor Daniel Siegel stated that dreaming is “one of the important ways we integrate memory and emotion.” Indeed, it is the feeling tone of the dream which is more important than the actual content.
Start by looking at the feelings felt by figures in the dream, including your own reactions. Honestly address the question, “What current situation might I be experiencing (or deny experiencing) feelings similar to those in the dream?”
Dreams use a symbolic and metaphoric language which often frustrates people. Be playful and curious with dreams rather than trying to ‘figure out’ what they mean.
Say the dream aloud. Listen for puns, metaphors, and statements that provoke a reaction or emotion from you. Try to summarize the dream in one sentence, then in one word.
Use terms such as “it was as if’ or ‘it was like’ to describe vivid features. For example, ‘It was as if the whole wall was going to crumble.’ Ah, then we can move to, “What perspective or idea in me is ready or needs to fall apart?”
Sometimes as you work with dreams, feelings and meaningful insights may spontaneously occur. At other times, nothing seemingly profound occurs. Remember, regardless of whether you ‘got’ your dream or not, you have spent quality time with your soul.
Dreams are one way to gain insights into how you are journeying through life. Where will your inner road lead you?