In my books and in my posts on this blog, I have attributed many benefits to the study of one’s dreams. However, the fact is that most people that I encounter have virtually no understanding of dreams. They do not know even the basic facts that scientists have documented, which includes the fact that everyone dreams many times during the night’s sleep cycles. Over my lifetime, I have seen numerous books published about dreams and authors of those books have appeared on national talk shows. But among the public knowledge about dreams still seems to be very sparse.
I believe that many people have had one or more dreams that they recall, and want to know the meaning of a particular dream. But the interest stops there. Some will search until someone gives them an interpretation that makes sense, but then they forget about their dreams until they have another one they want to understand. Very few people see dreams as important messages from the unconscious that they should try to understand. Even many scientists have not reached this conclusion, and some consider dreams meaningless creations of the subconscious.
Previously, I have written about the reasons that people ignore their dreams. Several reasons are discussed in my dream books and they all contribute to the limited interest in dreams. However, in this post, I want to focus on what I believe is one of the most important reasons dream interpretation is not popular. And that reason is the fear of what we may find.
We all have an image of ourselves: what we think we are. This image determines how we see the world. Our beliefs form early in life and continue to develop into adulthood. They give us our picture of the world we inhabit. No two people see the world the same. Two people may have major agreements, but even then, some differences will remain because their interests, abilities, and life experiences are not identical.
We all have filters. Some information is filtered out. We do not see it or pay attention to it because we do not agree with it or do not think it is important. If someone we do not like does something good, we may not “see” the good act. We may automatically filter it and do not even notice its occurrence.
The world we see is one that corresponds to what we think it is. In this day of deep political divisions, try to convince a person with strong political beliefs that the opposing party has the best interests of the people in mind. The person will rattle off all the justifications for reviling the opposition’s approach, and will not notice any of their good qualities. The current strong political views are usually based on what is wrong with the other side, not what they have in common or share.
Our dreams give us a mirror we can look into to see our inner selves. Dreams reflect our true image: who and what we really are, not what we hope we are or would like to be. If someone is open-minded and fair, that image will be reflected in their dreams. (Note I use the now accepted their instead of his or her.) However, if someone is narrow-minded and bigoted, that image will be reflected instead.
As we age, physical changes will be reflected in a mirror. A person can look at their physical image and wish it were different, that those puffy eyes, lines and age spots, or extra flab weren’t really there, but the mirror cares little about such desires. It simply reflects what is there.
Similarly, dreams reflect our inner selves. We can decide to not look, as in the case of some vain person who destroys all the mirrors in their house so they won’t see anything that may distress them. But that doesn’t change anything. The reality of their physical image does not change. And other people are well aware of how they look. We can decide to not look at our dreams because we fear what we might see, but other people usually see our real selves even if we don’t. If a person is a braggart or a liar, other people know that. People may lie to themselves, but they are not fooling those around them.
As I have stated, many people avoid interpreting their dreams because they are afraid of what they might find. They may have behaved badly and don’t want to be reminded of that from a dream. Avoidance of dreams is particularly true concerning precognitive dreams. Over the years, numerous people have voiced to me their fear of seeing some bad things that may happen in the future in their dreams. Their response is to avoid their dreams altogether, and if they have a frightening dream that shows an undesirable future event, they try to put it out of their minds as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, this does not solve any problems. In fact, it prevents them from potentially avoiding the occurrence of the probable future event. And if it cannot be avoided, it prevents them from coming to terms with it psychologically prior to the occurrence. I refer to this as the mental Ostrich syndrome. If we don’t look at it, if we don’t see it, maybe it will go away.
Carl Jung, a prolific writer and one of the most famous and studied psychiatrists of all time, believed that we need to unite our conscious and unconscious minds to become whole as human beings. We cannot do that if we hide from our dreams. Our dreams are a mirror of our inner selves, and our time making an examination of them is surely worth as much concern as an examination of our physical selves, which occupies some of the day for most people, and much of the day for many people.
In the metaphysical writings of Edgar Cayce and Jane Roberts, we find that dreams play an important role. Both of them consider it essential that people pay attention to their dreams, and that they learn to interpret their own dreams. The symbols in your dreams are unique to you; no one else can tell you what something in a dream means to you. Certainly, there are common themes in dreams. And some of the symbols share a similar meaning across people’s dreams. But to get at the heart of it, which is why those particular symbols were selected in your dream rather than some others, you must examine what they mean to you. What are the associations you make? No one else can do that for you, which is why dream dictionaries are of limited use.
If you expect another person to interpret your dreams, you are asking them what your life means. You are asking them to interpret your innermost thoughts and feelings. No one can do the job for you. You cannot become self-aware by asking another person to do it for you. You have to do the work yourself.