Did you ever have a dream as a kid that sent you scurrying to your parent’s room? You were convinced that the dream was real, but your parents reassured you it was not. They may have said, “Don’t worry. It was only a dream. It wasn’t real.” As you curled up between them and fall back asleep there was a whisper of safety tucked in next to you. The two people you trusted most had delivered a message that was designed to lull you back to sleep. And it did.
No wonder most people disregard their dreams. We’ve been conditioned to believe that they’re insignificant and unimportant — we discard them like the unread sections of the morning paper. We live in a culture that is focused on what is real. We want to know more about the things we can see and touch — like how to make a heart in the foam of a decaf latte or who makes the softest t-shirts. There is so much external stimulation drawing us out, we have forgotten how to look inside.
When we sleep we hover in a realm that traverses the unconscious and the conscious. The images in our dreams are meant to help us rebalance ourselves when the psyche becomes damaged and fractured. They are a lantern in the darkest of night to shepherd us back to health and well-being.
Humans are spiritual beings. We are comprised of both essence and matter. We have a shape from flesh and bone that encapsulates our purest self — the soul, which is our most authentic being. It is the part of us that feels deep love and resounds in great joy. It is our elemental self lodged in faith and understanding.
As soon as we experienced pain, loss, or fear we began to develop the counterpart to the soul — our shadow. Our shadow consists of the qualities we repress, deny, or dislike in ourselves. It is the dark side of our personality. The shadow grows as we experience suffering and hardship in our human form. Each one of us is a hybrid blend of shadow and soul. We are a balance of what is seen and unseen.
All of the figures in our dreams represent aspects of ourselves. There is not one but many of us present at any given moment. You are a mother, a father a businesswoman, a friend, a chef, an artist, a hero, a diva, a little boy and a romantic all in the same breath. The multiple people living inside you are called personas. So, if you dream about an encounter with a painter or writer, you are dreaming about the creative energy inside your psyche. If you dream about having lunch with a group of children, you are viewing the childlike qualities that remain with you.
Try to remember all of the people, places and symbols in your dream. It may help to keep a dream journal so you can write them down first thing when you wake up. The symbols that we dream about have significance. If you dream about traveling in a red car to a house with a blue door, mind the details. What do the colors red and blue mean to you? A door may symbolize making a transition in your life. We call this process unpacking the dream images. Often dream images will unlock memories from our childhood, perhaps even our earliest memories we forgot even existed.
And what about nightmares? Well, don’t worry. The monsters in your dreams are not real. They are dark symbolic figures that represent the aspects of yourself that you do not like. So, these monsters that are chasing you are actually not trying to harm you but get your attention. They are asking to be seen and attended to because they have been neglected and their fangs have come out. The more that we try to ignore them, the more agitated they will get and the more apt they are to show up in your dreams.
Dreams are important and happen to us for a reason: Listen to them with excitement and curiosity. They will help you to understand yourself in a deeper and more honest way.
Dream Glossary — Common Dreams
These are common dreams that many people have during different phases in their lives.
Losing teeth: This is a dream you may have when moving through a transition in life, i.e. moving, changing jobs, breaking up, etc. It simply means that you are growing out of one phase and into the next — like a child losing his/her teeth. Embrace the change!
Falling: This is a dream you may have when you are feeling overwhelmed. Symbolically, the earth beneath your feet has vanished and you don’t feel like you have solid footing or a firm foundation in life. Maybe you have taken on too much and need to slow down. Take care of yourself.
People You Know: When you dream about people you know it is only natural to interpret this at face value. This is not the case. Remember that the people in your dreams represent aspects of yourself. If you dream about a close friend, then think about their strongest character traits. If you think of them as being humble then you are dreaming about the humble side of yourself.
Flying: This can be a wonderful or scary dream. If you’re up in the sky looking down and feeling blissful like a bird, this simply means you’re gaining a new perspective on something. If you’re afraid, then this could mean you’re holding onto old ideas and do not want to change your understanding.
Losing Someone: This is another unsettling dream. We tend to be afraid that we will never find them again. If you dream that you are losing your child it refers to ignoring those childlike qualities in yourself. So, play more and stop being such a grown-up. If you lose your spouse there may be a need for you to address the masculine or feminine energy that pulses through you. Remember, you are the perfect blend of both.
Being Chased: This can be a frightening dream, often demonstrating that some unresolved part of your personality needs attention. Perhaps you are being dishonest with someone or are ignoring something that has been difficult to admit. This is a shadow dream and whatever chases you is simply an unwanted aspect of yourself. Do not ignore this or it will get bigger. If you feel you cannot move and are stuck this means that you feel helpless and are not sure how to address the issue.
Dying/Being Killed/Death: These can be disturbing and confusing dreams. Do not worry — this is not a premonition that your death is near. These dreams refer to a part of yourself having a symbolic death. What in your life that is slowly slipping away? Is it your anger or your lust? Is it your dream of becoming an actress? When something in us dies we go through a natural grieving process so don’t be surprised if you feel sad. You are saying goodbye to something you have known. This can actually be a good thing as you may be losing something that was not serving you anymore. If it is someone who is killing you then you are probably in conflict about letting go. Your narcissistic need for adoration could be killing your hope for real intimacy.
Naked: This can be an unsettling dream. It refers to the fact that you feel unprotected and vulnerable, as though the shield you have put up is not working and people can now see the real you. This may create anxiety, because in our most natural form we are exposed for all to see. You may feel unprepared and shy to show the real you. Don’t worry, you’re beautiful.
Water: Water represents the unconscious. Submerging in any body of water means exploring your psyche. Enjoy!
This is an excerpt from Dr. Carder Stout’s Mindsail program “Your Dreams Are Real So Pay Attention”. Dr. Carder Stout is a Depth Psychologist and licensed Psychotherapist. For more on what your dreams mean and to listen to his full program, download the Mindsail app.
Originally published at medium.com