Dreams are strange things. They confirm the workings of the mind that one is not aware of, and they can expose your fears, desires…and flaws with stark, inescapable clarity. In one of the psych classes I took at college, we were taught the way to analyze dreams, which, being so young and opinionated, I was of course immediately skeptical of. But it works.
The premise is that since we create our own dreams, we are every character in that dream. So in order to understand the dream, you have to put yourself in the place of every character individually and examine your feelings. Those feelings are what you are experiencing in life, whether you want to acknowledge them or not.
Let’s take one of my relentlessly recurring dreams. In it, I am rejected over and over again by my first crush, way back in time when I was in the throes of teenage angst. Uggh. So glad that’s over. Anyway, in examining my own character in that scenario, I find: confusion, the pain of rejection, of hopes dashed, the denial of that rejection, the resolve to ignore it and move on, etc., etc., etc. Why would I be experiencing these emotions now as a fully grown, mature woman in charge of her life? And I realize these are things that are inseparable from life. We go through them in our professional life all the time…the fear that we will fall short, that we will be rejected and denied and will have to find that resolve to move on, to not let it crush us. What choice do we have? We authors struggle with these fears all the time because putting our writing out there is akin to putting our selves out there, as we did when we sought a romantic relationship. The approval of our readers completes us as human beings, much like our mates do. It’s a relationship that we seek with our readers, and that, like all relationships, is frightening. Okay, so that was me in the dream.
Now I put myself in the character of the rejector, the source of the heartbreak. And again I see uncertainty. But in addition I see pride in the self, the ego. I see the desire to explore and find the right thing, not settle for something that might not be right. I see neurosis, and the indifference to the hurt I might cause others in the pursuit of what is right for me. I see self-dislike. Wow. Am I all these things? I am.
I come away with a better understanding of myself, and a determination to be aware of those aspects of my character revealed in the dream which I don’t like. I find myself mindfully trying to avoid them. The dream still plagues me, which tells me I still have work to do. But at least now I’m aware of it.