Understanding Your Dreams as a Story

If you want to interpret your dreams, one of the easiest ways to do this is to think of them as stories with a beginning, middle, and end. If you can think of them in this way, it will give you insight into the meaning of your dreams.

Stories have a plot, a setting, and characters. When you read a story, watch a movie, or go to the theater, you can identify themes running through them. Dreams are just the same although sometimes they can be more unpredictable. One moment you could be in the garden and before you can blink your eyes, you are on a bus. Perhaps your father suddenly changes into your grandfather. Maybe you find that you are married to somebody else. Despite the unpredictability, dreams are still stories and are often interesting, not to mention, confusing.

Understanding Your Dreams as a Story

The best thing to do when you wake up after having a dream is to write down everything you remember from the dream. It is best to do this as soon as you wake up as memories of dreams tend to fade as the day goes on. The next thing to do is to read what you have written, just as you would read a story. 

In a similar way to a story, there are six main elements that make up a dream. If you can identify these, it will be easier to interpret the dream.

Here are Some Key Story Elements to Look For in a Dream

Setting; The first thing to look at is where the dream takes place. It could be in one or more settings. Perhaps you recognize where the dream is set, or maybe you don’t, which can make it more difficult to interpret. 

Characters: These are the people who are in your dream. They are more likely people you know, but sometimes they are strangers. They could be symbols for something completely different. If there is more than one person, take note of how they interact. Are they friendly or antagonistic? It is also important to note the characteristics of each person and don’t forget that you too are a character. How do you interact with the other people or are you alone?

Plot/Conflict: These are the events and actions that take place in the dream. Was it calm or were there many things happening one after the other? Was the conflict something you had recently gone through in waking life or was it something new? Was the plot complicated or exciting? Did it wake you up in a cold sweat?

Symbols: Symbols in dreams are important, but a little more difficult to interpret. Something or someone in your dream can represent something completely different. For example, you could dream that you are drowning, but it doesn’t mean that you are actually going to drown. Instead, it could be a symbol for you being swamped by too much work and unable to see a way out. If you see yourself washing a pile of clothes, it could mean that your to-do list is too long. You need to give yourself a break and relax.

Theme; There should be a central theme running through your dream, but this may take a little while to decide upon as the dream could be somewhat obscure. Once you have decided on what it is, try to describe it in one or two sentences. 

Mood/Tone: Try and work out what the general mood of the dream was. Was it lighthearted or was it deep and meaningful? Were you happy, sad, angry? 

Questions to Ask to Understand the Story of Your Dream

There are a number of questions you need to ask yourself when you are trying to interpret your dream.

  • What was the location of the dream? Did it change throughout the dream? 
  • Were there any details about the setting that you remember? Was it in a house, by the sea, or in the mountains?
  • Who was in the dream? Did you know them or were they strangers?
  • Were there any objects in the dream that you thought of as being symbols?
  •  Were you able to recognize a theme running through the dream?
  • How did you feel in the dream and how did you feel when you woke up? Were you happy, miserable, afraid, or anxious?

To be able to answer these questions makes it easier to identify the dream as a story. Once you’ve done this, you will be able to relate the dream to your waking life.


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