How to Listen and Ask Questions When Someone Tells You Their Dream

Marks of a good listener

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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.

As the Rose Blossoms: The Ongoing Unfolding of a Dream’s Meaning

Cultivate dreams like roses.

Be Sure to Smell the Roses!

Like the pedals of a rose, a dream’s meaning may take a while to unfold, only coming to complete disclosure many years after the dream itself was dreamed. What may appear to be at first a tightly bound and unpromising dream, could be just a bud making its first appearance, and eventually come into full glory it is own season.

Most of us have no trouble remembering a great dream or one loaded with feeling. There are usually three or four dreams that will hold clear in the memory over a lifetime. But in our lifetime we have many thousands of dreams, which for most people, pass by unrecognized, devalued and not learned from. Dream journaling, the practice of recording every dream we can remember, is a significant step to reclaiming the lost wisdom in those other dreams. It is a way of cultivating the unpromising buds and most importantly, it is a way of harvesting the magnificent result.

When we have a dream we remember, most of us will give it a moment’s thought and then forget about it. If we have good memories, or good associational abilities, we might remember the dream when something happens in our waking life to trigger the memory of that dream. Then we might see the connection between the dream and what it might be saying about something happening in our waking life.

Writing down the dream allows us to not only make note of the dream, but it also encourages us to give more than a passing thought to the dream. We can reflect on it and ask ourselves what this dream is trying to tell us about our lives right now. More importantly, it will also allow the dreamer to come back months and years later to see how that dream—one which may have long been forgotten—unfolded and blossomed, and how it manifested over the years, giving perhaps an entirely different meaning than the one first ascribed to it, and giving new insight into a major theme of life’s meaning.

  • There may be a meaning given to the dream at its first appearance, in mid-bloom perhaps some months or years later, and in full bloom when the dream fully manifests itself, sometimes much later in waking life. Reviewing the dream journal at various stages, and making note of the various meanings given to the dream at each stage, gives new and growing perspectives.
  • The dreamer may also note other dreams that may be related to, or be an development of the original dream.

With these dreams as guideposts to see how they correspond to and inform waking reality, inner spiritual growth may be monitored and appreciated. The dreamer can easily see then that one tiny dream may blossom into a magnificent flower or may contain the seeds for a garden of roses, and that deep within us lives the wisdom for living our lives.

To learn more about dreams and dreamwork, visit my website at http://www.healingdreamgarden.com.

When It’s OK to Be All About Me: The Dream is About the Dreamer

Interpreting Dreams

A Dream Scene: Hopes Rising or a Plane Taking Off?

In working with dreams, there are two common misleading inclinations most people have: they tend to see events in dreams to be literally true or to view them as happening outside the dreamer as actual events in waking life. Perhaps this is because many people tend to find ultimate meaning outside themselves rather than looking within for the answers. Here is an example:

Dream: I am in a plane that is taking off from a bumpy runway. The plane is bouncing around and it makes me nervous.

In this case, the dreamer might think the dream refers to a plane ride he might be taking tomorrow or sometime in the future and the takeoff could be hazardous. While that might be one possible interpretation, leaving it there without further reflection will quite often miss the mark, losing a much more important meaning of the dream altogether.

One of the major milestones for dreamworkers in learning about dreams is to realize that the dream is about the dreamer and what is going on within the dreamer. That is why dreams have been called the Royal Road to the Unconscious. Genuine dreamwork takes us on this royal road. It provides ways to understand and nurture a deeper relationship with one’s own Self. Fortunately, nowadays, dreamwork methods have been developed to help us mine the hidden meanings of dreams which pertain to what is happening within the Unconscious regions the dreamer. One of these established methods for working with dreams is Fritz Perls’ approach of viewing everything in the dream as part of the dreamer.

How to Work with the Dream as if it was “All About Me”

In this approach, I would work with the dream about a plane taking off from a bumpy runway as follows: I would ask myself what part of me represents the plane, what part represents the runway, and what is “bouncing around” in my life? I might associate the plane with my hopes for a new project that is taking off in my life, I might associate the bumpy runway with the bumpy start of the project and the “bouncing around” may stand for my feelings about the whole affair. In this case, my unsteady feelings are challenging the hopes for something developing in my life. For me to move forward in a healthy manner, perhaps the dream is helping me by warning me that I need to pay attention to this project and to my feelings about it—or a disaster could result and I may have many regrets about being part of the project. The dream, then, is calling my attention to a real problem in my waking life right now and not some possible future development. It is saying that within me there is a growing unease about this project.

Sometimes dreams do concern events outside the dreamer but most of the time my experience has been that dreams are always about the dreamer so while dreams may pertain to outside events, they also suggest a parallel metaphor within the dreamer—and this issue is often the difficult one to deal with, and the one most overlooked by the dreamer.

To learn more about dreams, visit my website: http://www.healingdreamgarden.com.