Dreams.com offers eight specific techniques for interpreting your dreams. Here is dream interpretation technique five…
Dream Interpretation Tip #5
Look for “shadow” figures. Our “shadow” figures in a dream are people or things that symbolically represent parts of ourselves that we may have disowned and projected onto others. One way to tell whether or not the character in a dream is symbolic or literal is by determining how close we are to that character in our waking world. For example, if a close friend of yours is in your dream, the dream message probably has something to do with the relationship between the two of you. On the other hand, when someone you’ve never seen before or you haven’t seen or heard from in years appears in your dream, chances are your deeper self has chosen that person to represent some part of yourself that you’re dealing with.
A friend shared with me a dream in which she was hugging an old friend of the family that she hadn’t seen in years. Since this family friend wasn’t in close or recent contact, it was clear that she was a shadow figure. I asked my friend to describe the woman in her dream, and the first thing she said was that she was the “epitome of femininity.” At the time my friend had this dream she was working on getting in better touch with her own femininity, and this dream turned out to be an expression of the newfound intimacy with that part of herself.
Sometimes an unfamiliar person in a dream symbolically represents not ourselves but someone else. A woman shared with me a disturbing dream in which a nun paid her a visit. Suddenly she realized the nun was actually a man, who then pulled out a knife and stabbed her. The theme was clear: someone who appeared trustworthy turned out not to be. That was all she needed to begin to pull the rest of the pieces together.
In each of us there is another whom we do not know. He speaks to us in dreams and tells us how differently he sees us from the way we see ourselves. When, therefore, we find ourselves in a difficult situation to which there is no solution, he can sometimes kindle a light that radically alters our attitude – the very attitude that led us into the difficult situation.
– Carl Jung, as quoted in C. G. Jung: Psychological Reflections