Rehearsal in Dreams
by: Layne Dalfen
The father's of psychology agreed that the dream gives us a safe place to practice; in essence a rehearsal for an event. No kidding. Okay... I know it's metaphor if, for example, you find yourself committing a murder, that you are not actually rehearing killing someone. Alfred Adler said the dream gives rise to an emotion that helps you move forward towards the goal.
Here's an example. Someone really hurt your feelings and underneath the hurt lies anger. This would not be an unusual happening because we (humans) are notoriously more at home with angry feelings than hurt feelings. Often the anger is hiding a hurt.
That said, let's get back to the situation in which you were hurt by someone. Turns out you stood there and didn't say a word. Your level of expression, whether about hurt and/or anger was zero.
Because there was no response from you, the dream that you've murdered someone serves two purposes. A) It creates a balance for your under-reaction to the situation. (We are self-regulating.) And B) As Adler proposed the dream stirs in you a big emotion. Hopefully that inspires you to discuss the matter and maybe it even gives you the UMPH you need to step forward and express your feelings to the person who hurt you.
So in this regard murdering someone in the dream is a safe place to rehearse your emotion while at the same time inspire a drive to speak your feelings that may not come naturally to you.
All that said I spend my days helping people unravel the metaphors in our dreams, so it comes as a surprise to me that I awoke with a dream so literal this morning, that as one of my kids would say, is ridonkulous.
The building in which the dream took place is from my past. The room I ended up in, inside that building at the end of the dream, is also from my past. In analyzing a dream, a building can bring up associations to a person. When that person doesn't appear in your dream, the place has the potential to point you to the individual you may be having an issue with.
The location of my dream this morning only confirmed who the issue is with. Otherwise the dream was almost void of metaphor! I actually gave myself the opportunity to say everything....and I do mean EVERYTHING I want to say to this person! .....And in the dream it WAS the person!
Talk about rehearsal. This was literal. I come across literal dreams from clients from time to time but honestly, it's not that often. About now you may be asking what am I going to do with this rehearsal????
I'm gonna do NOTHING with it! Ya. Mrs. Dream Analyst is going to do nothing about it. I'll tell you why. The dreams bring the matter forward and then give the wonderful opportunity of evaluating a situation to make the best decision about how we want to react.
In this case, the bad news is, there's no one home. My expressing how I feel to the person in question will effect no change. No one is listening on the other end.
The good news? The dream gave me the place to SAY IT! And what a relief that is! I said exactly what I wanted to say and I said it in the way I wanted to say it! No shouting or anything like that. I was calm. I was honest. I woke up feeling great. The dream took all the air out of the balloon.
A dream giving you a place to assess a situation puts you in a very powerful position. It is a completely different experience than being hostage to a knee-jerk reaction.
In the introduction to Carl Jung's book Man And His Symbols, John Freeman relates the story of how Jung—who’d been asked to write a book on dreams for the general public rather than for scholars—had initially refused, only to change his mind in the aftermath of a dream. In the dream, Jung saw himself delivering a lecture in a crowded square. The enthusiastic response of the dream-crowd persuaded him to write his book. He claimed he consulted not only his conscious mind, but also his unconscious.
This story defines the essence of my never-ending enthusiasm for dream work. Like the Jungians, I believe that the ability to understand our dreams provides us with the opportunity to be completely in touch with our whole selves when making decisions. Interpreting our dreams is not only fun and interesting, it is important.