Critical thinking is an important tool in approaching dreamwork. Critical thinking is not criticizing something, but rather stepping back from immediate assumptions, interpretations, conclusions and letting a situation be so that a variety of interesting things may happen, so that whole new ways of viewing and subsequent reflective thinking that involves asking questions may emerge. This helps us avoid some common misleading approaches to working with dreams such as literally interpreting a dream or avoiding looking at a dream because it may be frightening or emotionally overwhelming. That is not to say dreams can’t be literally true. Sometimes, they are but in most cases dreams have many rich levels of meaning that are often in spiritual in content, making it hazardous to interpret literally—much like reading the Bible.
The act of stepping back prevents us from forcing a premature meaning on the dream. It makes space for the dream to speak to us, often by drawing in, feeling and savoring any emotions that are associated with the dream. We are then able to think about and leisurely reflect on the dream in a broader manner which includes more of the dream such as feelings, images and later reflection on this content.