When someone tells you about a dream they’ve had, you can consider it a compliment. In most cases you are being entrusted with something special, no matter if it is a nightmare or a grand adventure. Dreamers have their reasons for telling someone about a dream, but they might not necessarily tell you why. Is it for validation? For interpretation? Or do they just want a listening ear to process their own understanding of the dream? If they don’t come out and tell you why they are telling you the dream, and it is a bit awkward to ask, try to intuit the reason and act accordingly. It is important to get a sense of why someone wants to tell you the dream because then you can better help them understand it.
From listening to people’s dreams over many years, I find that most people will readily share a dream when it is something they feel is positive—such as a dream giving them great insight, encouragement or feeling. People tend not to share nightmares and problematic dreams so readily. No matter what kind of dream the dreamer has it is important to be a good listener and supportive questioner.
Listen and Then Ask Questions
The best way to listen to dreams is, of course, to listen and then ask questions that will lead the dreamer to reflect more deeply—and thereby gain deeper appreciation and understanding of the dream. Genuine, non-judgmental listening encourages the person to feel accepted and open to exploring hidden and sometimes scary meanings in dreams. Questions may be asked that shed more light on the color, feeling, nuance of an object or person in a dream. One of the best questions to ask is to have the dreamer describe every object in the dream as representing some form of energy within himself or herself. Asking such questions can help the dreamer find insight by considering the dream from different angles and perspectives, opening more possibilities for discovering the many levels of meaning that dreams often have.
Some people want validation for a dream because they really want to believe the dream is special. Asking questions that make them realize why the dream is special will do that. Also by saying something affirming like, “If it were my dream and I dreamed that, I would feel like things were going well.” Using the words, “If it were my dream…” clearly indicates that this is your personal opinion and may perhaps be totally different from the dreamer’s. This is important for the free exploration of another person’s dream.
Don’t Attempt an Interpretation
Quite often people will ask you to interpret their dreams. Remind them that you can’t. Since the dream is all about the dreamer, it is really not possible to interpret another person’s dream, as much as you want to. As much as you think you know the meaning of the dream, try to refrain from giving a specific interpretation like, “Your dream means you don’t have a chance to get the job.” If your interpretation happens to be right on, it might feel threatening if the person isn’t ready to deal with it. If it is wrong, the person will feel misunderstood. However, it is helpful to suggest common interpretations to a dream image, such as driving a car may represent how the dreamer is getting along in life—and then ask them to consider if this interpretation is a possibility. Or you may suggest that they look at a good dream dictionary which gives various meanings to a symbol, rather than one pat answer. By listening and asking questions, you will go far in helping the dreamer unlock the dream’s secrets. You will know when they blurt out something like “A-hah!” that they have discovered a significant meaning.
To learn more about dreams, visit my website at http://www.healingdreamgarden.com.