Dreaming is a way to become aware of vast swaths of your subconscious without interference from your conscious. Your conscious can only see a limited part of your subconscious at once, but when you’re sleeping, the conscious is inactive, so you can see more.
Since dream analysis is a form of introspection, you interpret dreams the same way you introspect. I don’t think dream analysis is a replacement for introspection, but it can be fun sometimes and shed light on who you are. Here are the steps:
- What was the dream? Write out the dream, as much as you can remember.
- What were the main symbols in the dream? An old woman, a bridge, your mom’s vagina, etc. Write them all down.
- What do these symbols mean to you? Freud and Jung wasted a lot of time describing different symbols in dreams and what they mean to humanity on a whole. But different symbols mean different things to different people. A lot of people hate spiders, but I think they’re awesome. Not only do they build stuff, but they build the sun. Plus I read Charlotte’s Web nine times as a kid, which is a lame book looking back—I’m surprised I didn’t end up in PETA. Anyway, a spider means something different to me than a chick who says she hates spiders because she reads Buzzfeed all day.
- Write what you think the dream means to you.
Freud said the dream is the royal road to the unconscious, but I think your interpretation of the dream is the royal road to the unconscious.
When Freud said “unconscious,” he meant “subconscious.” Or did he? No one knows or bothers to clarify these terms anymore. Have fun finding a competent therapist.
If your girlfriend tells you about her dream, always interpret it to mean she is figuring out you’re planning to kill her.
If your friend tells you about his dream, always interpret it as him secretly being an extreme homosexual. The more extreme, the funnier. Oh man, I think that means you want to quit your job and suck on bums’ assholes all day. Hey, if he’s telling a friend about his dream, then he is an extreme homosexual.
Everybody dreams—we’d go crazy if we don’t. The most effective form of torture is to give prisoners medication to keep them from dreaming. I’m not sure if this is true, but a Jungian analyst told it to me once. It would be cool if it was true.
If you have trouble remembering your dreams, then make a plan to interpret your dreams. Make a word document entitled “my gay-ass dream interpretations.” Simply making a plan to remember dreams primes your mind to remember dreams, and you will remember more dreams. Before making my gay-ass dream journal document, I only remembered about one dream per week. Now I remember about five per week.
I once had a dream, about eight years ago, in which I was playing high school football. (This makes sense because I did play high school football.) My teammates and I were gearing up for a game, but I didn’t want to wear the cleats everyone else wore. I wanted to wear my own sneakers, even though I knew they would give me bad traction. My coach yelled at me, “dammit, Mark, you could be so good if you didn’t have to do your own thing all the time!”
Well, if this doesn’t sum up everything awesome about me (and everything wrong with me), nothing does.
I didn’t change myself or anything stupid like that as a result of this dream, but now when things don’t work out for me, at least I know why.
Dream analysis sacrifices specificity for breadth; introspection sacrifices breadth for specificity. I wouldn’t rely solely on dream analysis for self-awareness, and I definitely wouldn’t use it in place of introspection, but it may be helpful sometimes.