The misinterpretation trap.

You wake from a hauntingly beautiful dream of time spent with an ex-lover, and the sheer delight sends you scurrying to make contact, or, at least, to tell yourself that somewhere, out there beyond the trappings of the body and material world, the two of you reconnected, forgave, or shared new understanding. It’s so deliciously tempting to interpret such a dream literally, so easy to turn tail on everything you know about how to interpret dreams just this once, because just this once you had a different kind of dream, one beyond interpretation, didn’t you?

No, you didn’t. Sorry to burst the bubble, but what you had was a delightfully, soul-stirring, sensuous dream offering potential for personal and spiritual growth if you applied the tools and techniques necessary to discover its deeper meaning. You might wish to luxuriate in the dream details, and re-enjoy the drama, perhaps letting its sensuality and calm float you through your day, and there’s nothing wrong in doing that, but don’t for one minute think that the featured ex-lover played any part in your dream, or that you tapped into his or her soul while you both slept.

Such a dream is more likely to reflect self-healing, self-forgiveness, integration of qualities you admired in that lover and now find within yourself, or any number of related meanings depending on the details of your dream. Every dream is unique, just as every dreamer is unique, and it’s the use of the correct dream interpretation tools and techniques that lead you to fully understand your dream.

This blog is not so much about the common dream theme of dreaming of an ex.

It’s about our human propensity to interpret our dreams according to what we’d like them to mean, rather than to take the more courageous effort of finding out what they actually mean.

That courageous effort ultimately leads you to a much better place, within yourself, within the world.

People often ask me if it’s harder to interpret my own dreams than to interpret other peoples.

Those of you who are practised in dream interpretation and dream analysis will probably agree with my answer: yes, it’s much harder, until you learn to be tough with yourself! It’s far easier to err on the side of what we’d like our dreams to mean, to believe that this particular dream lies outside the rules of normal dreams, to deftly dance around things that would scream out at you if this were someone else’s dream, nicely effecting a dash of denial in order to neatly continue along your status quo path. In other words, it’s much easier to fall into the misinterpretation trap when you interpret your own dreams. But you and I know better than this, don’t we?

There are other times when misinterpretation is more a result of laziness. A quick perusal of a dream leads you to conclude its meaning, but a few extra minutes spent following specific methods and asking yourself specific questions would give you an entirely different interpretation, one richer in depth, meaningfulness, and opportunity for growth.

If I sense that I have too quickly interpreted (or dismissed) one of my own dreams, I imagine that it is not my dream, but the dream of a client.

When I do this, the dream immediately opens out before me. I see what I didn’t see before, I know what to question, I know which techniques to use, and I respond, as the client, enlightened.

Whether you’re a dream therapist, a dream interpreter, or regularly help others to explore their dreams, or whether you work solely with your own dreams, you might like to try this same approach. Take yourself through the dream in the same way that you would take a client or friend: rigidly follow the steps you’ve learned through my How to interpret your dreams step-by-step course(or through my Dream Therapy courses).

 Sometimes misinterpretation is as simple as overlooking an obvious clue because you think you’ve got the interpretation nailed. I remember a dream that featured, right at the end, seven Christmas trees.  In my hurry to get on with my day I almost overlooked the clue: I thought back seven Christmas’s and that date took everything I had concluded too rapidly about my dream to a much deeper, more revealing, and much more helpful level.

I love that numbers trick. In another dream, someone mentioned 120 days. How long does it take to get out a calendar and check back 120 days? I did it, and wham, again, that date completely brought the interpretation home. (Dreams show us how amazingly our unconscious minds retain dates!)

The numbers trick is such a simple method to apply.

If you’ve studied my courses, you’ll know there are a number of tools and techniques to apply, each guiding you toward spot-on interpretation and analysis. I mentioned my dreams about the seven Christmas trees and the 120 days to illustrate how spending just a few seconds more on investigating a dream can make all the difference.

So whether you have a tendency toward speed (a quick interpretation so you can get out the door and on with your day), or denial (a preference to continue blindly as is for now thank you very much), or fairy tale conclusions (we met on the astral plane and sorted things out), if you really want to make progress in your life, take a little extra time, apply the steps that reveal the deeper and more helpful meaning of your dream, and watch the real magic begin.


Jane Teresa Anderson

Graduating with an Honours degree in Zoology specialising in neurophysiology from the University of Glasgow, dream analyst and dream therapist Jane Teresa Anderson has been researching dreams since 1992, and developing and teaching dream alchemy practices that shift perspective and reprogram unconscious limiting beliefs. Jane Teresa is a multi-published author, and appears frequently in the media on television, radio, and in print. She is also host of the long-running podcast, The Dream Show, and offers her online study and certificate courses through The Dream Academy.


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