Dreams.com offers eight specific techniques for interpreting your dreams. Here is dream interpretation technique two…
Dream Interpretation Tip #2
Look for literal meanings first. Before diving right into deep metaphorical and symbolic interpretations, take a look at the dream contents at face value to see what is being conveyed.
Dreams of a literal nature can take many forms. Sometimes they are direct outlets for repressed thoughts and feelings that we haven’t given ourselves permission to have or express in our waking hours. My “Night of the Living Dead” dream noted on the Interpretation Technique #1 page is a very basic example of this, acting out the fear I had suppressed the night before.
Another example is a dream that a widow shared with me in which she was angrily yelling at her deceased husband. Anger is a natural part of the grieving process, and it is very common for someone like this widow to be angry with the person for dying and leaving her behind, as irrational as it may seem. Although her rational mind would not permit herself to have or express her anger, her deeper self was taking care of her by giving her a safe outlet for the feelings in her dreams, thus easing her on toward resolution and acceptance of her loss. You can find more about dreams and grief elsewhere on this website as well as in the list of recommended reading.
Some literal dreams can be seen as basic enactments of our fears and desires, presenting our “what-ifs” and “if-onlys” in clear story form. After all, what are fears and desires made up of anyway? Would we fear the dark closet if we didn’t already have some fantasy of what might be lurking inside? Our dreams are often the stage on which we play these dramas out. Dreams of this nature include being with someone romantically whom the dreamer wishes she could be with in the waking world (“If only we could be together…”). Another example of this is a dream a student shared with me in which he failed an exam he was scheduled to take the following week. This dream was acting out his anxiety around what if he wasn’t prepared for the exam.
Literal dreams may also be messengers of warnings and reminders of things to which we need to pay attention. The student’s dream mentioned above is one example of a warning: if you don’t study adequately then you won’t pass the exam. Another example is a dream a woman had in which she was eating spinach. A few days later her doctor told her that her body was low in iron and she needed to eat more green leafy vegetables. Her own body had already warned her of her condition through her dream.
In one of my own dreams I was trying to call a friend named Lori but was unable to reach her because of difficulties with the phone. Upon awakening, I spent a moment thinking about what was on my mind the night before. I was planning to leave for San Diego to visit Lori the next day, and before I went to sleep I had given myself a mental note: Don’t forget to update Lori’s phone number and address in my cell phone, or I won’t be able to get hold of her when I get to town. By first taking my dream at face value and then thinking about what was on my mind the night before, I was able to remember my “note” and avoid real life complications.
Sometimes psychic dreams that give literal predictions of future events can be explained as general warning or reminder dreams that come true. These particular dreams are examples of our “mental detectives” at work, piecing together clues available to us in our waking world and depicting a logical outcome based on this information. An example of this comes from a man who had a dream that his dog was hit by a car in front of this house and killed. A few days later this actually occurred. As it turned out, this man had discovered the day before the dream that his dog had been digging under the fence leading to the street. Soon after his discovery, however, he got distracted and forgot to do anything about the situation. Had he paid attention to the dream and acted on its message it might have served as a warning instead of an omen.
I have long trusted dreams as prophetic visions. I do not mean that they foretell the future, only that they illuminate the present, when my eyes are closed, so that I may see clearly.
– Sheldon Kopp, The Hanged Man