Many people have a great curiosity about their dreams, about what possible messages may be contained within them, why certain people and places crop up in their nighttime reveries, etc. This curiosity is seldom acted upon, however; and this largely has to do with our conditioning, and the way in which cultural beliefs have worked to convince us that our dreams are either meaningless or else indecipherable.
Modern psychoanalysis has gone a long way towards shifting this perception and at least encouraging many people to consider that their dreams may hold the answers to many of their questions – and the keys to solving many of their psychological difficulties. However, it has also managed to convince the masses that dream interpretation is a very complex – even esoteric – field, and that it can only be effectively undertaken by a trained analyst. As a consequence of this, few people believe themselves capable of interpreting their own dreams.
You can learn to interpret your dreams a lot more easily if you see them as, in a sense, your own messages to yourself. This idea flies in the face of most of the concepts of dream analysis that we’ve inherited from modern psychology. But the fact remains that dream symbolism is a very personal matter, and no one intuitively recognizes his or her symbolism better than the dreamer. Dreams seem much less comprehensible and approachable when they’re treated like strange objective phenomena that thrust themselves upon us while we sleep. The next time you awaken with the memory of having dreamed, tell yourself that you had a hand in creating that dream in the first place, in order to tell yourself something important, and see if the meaning and significance of the dream doesn’t leap right up into your conscious awareness.
This kind of approach removes a dream from the usual associations that many of us have learned – what a certain image is supposed to symbolize from a Jungian or Freudian perspective, for example – and allows you to more easily register your own gut feeling about what your dream is saying. It also encourages you to trust your own instincts and intuition, which will put you in good stead not only in the realm of dream interpretation but also in every other endeavor in your life. Our inner world is meant to aid us, to offer support, insight and wisdom. It is not as inaccessible – or incomprehensible – as we have been taught to believe.
It’s true that there are times when one is under severe duress and the support of a therapist or other professional may be helpful or even imperative. But it’s helpful to remember that we’re already carrying the wisdom and knowledge that we need to navigate through our lives, and that this inner support is communicated to us through our dreams. Learning to interpret your own dreams will teach you to trust not only those dreams but also yourself. Begin with those insights and inspirations that naturally arise, and as you keep practicing – and keep giving your dreams you attention – the messages will become clearer and clearer. Rid yourself of the notion that special training is needed to “unlock” the “secrets” of your dreams. This inner knowledge is your birthright, and it speaks in a language that you’re equipped to understand.