1: EXAMINING EMOTIONS IS STEP ONE OF THE FIVE-STEP DREAM TECHNIQUE
EMOTIONS AND DREAM MESSAGES. According to step one of the five-step technique, what you feel during the dream or what you feel about the dream after you wake up are the first clues to its meaning. If you see a huge lion enter your yard, yet it lies down, looks friendly, and you feel content at the sight instead of terrified, the positive feelings indicate that the message is not about being in danger. Or suppose you dream of your spouse in the kitchen losing their temper and smashing a plate in anger, but in the dream you remain calm and continue to wash the dishes. The dream may speak of the angry sparks that flew during an actual disagreement between you and your spouse, yet your serene attitude in the dream hints that the real-life situation can be resolved by staying calm.
STRONG DREAM EMOTIONS GET YOUR ATTENTION. A dream scene can pack an emotional punch and it does so to get a point across about an issue that needs your attention. A scene of almost drowning can be a metaphor for feeling overwhelmed, a child having a tantrum may indicate someone acting childish or a circumstance veering out of control, and an explosion may relate to an explosive relationship or situation. When a dream creates supercharged metaphors that affect your emotions, the strong reaction you feel to the images is a red flag that tells you the message is important.
YOUR REACTION TO A DREAM CAN JUMPSTART CHANGE. Suppose you have a dream that creates feelings of emotional upheaval in you for hours or even days. Though that sounds bad, sometimes a dream deliberately “creates” turmoil in you to stimulate a change in you. Intense reactions that leave you reeling, emotionally, can invite a change in attitude or push you into a new perspective. For example, a senior in college who is slacking off from his studies dreams that he has failed a final exam and will not graduate. The dream feels so real that it scares him into studying. Or, a man in a dead-end job dreams that everyone around him gets promoted, except him. The anguish the dream evokes in him spurs him to investigate ways to move forward in his career.
EXAMPLE 1 OF DREAMS THAT JUMPSTART YOUR FEELINGS: HAVING SEX WITH SOMEONE YOU DESPISE. Dreams of having sex with someone you cannot stand are common. A woman dreams that she has sex with a boss she despises, yet to her surprise, the passion in the dream feels real and magnificent. She wakes up confused, aware that she hates her boss but finding it hard to dislike someone with whom she has just had great sex. Because of the dream, her feelings of hate for him are now in flux; the dream softens and changes her attitude to her boss, allowing her to make a fresh start in the relationship.
When people dream about having sex with someone they dislike, their first thought is that the dream points to a secret attraction to that person. Usually, that is not the case. Instead, because prolonged animosity toward another is unhealthy (emotionally and psychologically), the psyche manufactures an intense, pleasant experience to jumpstart a change in attitude about that person. A wise man once stated that the best way to deal with an enemy is to turn him into a friend. A dream of having sex with someone you hate arrives as a peacemaker, initiated by your psyche.
EXAMPLE 2 OF DREAMS THAT JUMPSTART YOUR FEELINGS: BLESSINGS FROM A DECEASED LOVED ONE. A depressed man dreams of his dead father, the only person who truly understood him. The father hugs his son, tells him how proud he is of him, smiles, and then disappears. The dreamer wakes up elated; his depression has lifted.
Dreams that jumpstart a change can at times accomplish more than hours of encouragement by a friend or therapist, and can have an ongoing impact on the dreamer.
DREAMS AS A THERMOMETER OF YOUR FEELINGS. In life’s daily rush, it is easy to get out of touch with your emotions. When riding a roller-coaster of ups and downs, dreams can help you notice your feelings and cope with the problems behind those jangled emotions.
At times you may ignore your feelings or feel overwhelmed by them. Dreams help you notice your feelings and label them, so that you can begin to deal with them. Watching yourself in a dream where you are riding a merry-go-round that will not stop can feel terrifying, and can be a metaphor for feeling emotionally out of control. Or, seeing yourself parachute out of an airplane, gliding joyfully through the sky, may put you in touch with the pride you feel about a successful accomplishment.
Suppose you are trying to be patient with an annoying work associate but they still drive you crazy. One night you dream that you punched out the co-worker. The dream is not suggesting that you hit your associate. Instead, the dream mirrors your frustration and invites you to fix your reactions to that associate, reactions that are creating knots in your feelings.
A dream can also indicate whether your emotions are surging or sinking. If a shy man dreams of giving orders at work as if he were a drill sergeant, the dream may hint that he needs to speak up and is capable of doing so; it invites him to come out of his shell. If a confident businesswoman dreams that her staff hide under their desks when she walks by, the dream is hinting that her confidence has veered into overbearing. It invites her to soften her stance with her employees.
EMOTIONS AS A MESSAGE TO SELF. Counselors often view emotions as “messages to yourself.” For example, a scene of depression in a dream can point to a hidden hurt that needs to be expressed. Anger can point to strong feelings that need to be channeled into leadership. Arrogance may mask a lack of confidence or indicate a desire to be appreciated. When the emotional impact is strong or leaves you puzzled, see whether the emotions are a message to yourself.