Our dreams often seem bizarre or terrifying, but if we learn to “read” them, they can actually teach us a lot about ourselves.
One of my clients used to dream about her old school teacher, setting up a test for her. She was trying to do her best, but no matter how hard she tried, she could never please her teacher. In the meantime, she saw her young daughter running away to play, laughing happily.
After we have spent several sessions reflecting upon the meaning of a dream, my client realized that “the strict teacher” was her inner voice (called Critical Parent in Transactional Analysis terminology) that was constantly telling her to do better or that she was not good enough. My client’s mother used to be very critical and never gave any positive feedback, so my client internalized her mother’s voice and kept criticizing herself long after her real mother was dead.
My client also discovered that the little girl, running away to play, was representing her Free Self. In our therapy sessions that followed she learned to “turn off” the Critical Parent in her head and instead to encourage her Free Self to flourish.
Another client dreamt of hungry children, staring at him. Exploring my client’s life we came to the conclusion that he was “starved” of love and affection and did not have any meaningful relationships in his life. Acknowledging the situation helped my client to start reaching out and learning to form new fulfilling relationships.
Sometimes a dream can point out to an unhealthy character of a certain relationship. One client dreamt of having to carry a body – she had half a body and her mother had another half. Thinking about her dream, my client realized that, psychologically, her and her mother were indeed “a one body”. Being entangled in an unhealthy symbiotic relationship prevented my client from being herself – living her own life and making her own decisions.
So why not pay more attention to your dreams if you would like to find out more about the workings of your unconscious? In my next post I will explain more about how to remember your dreams better and also talk about different ways of reading your dreams.