From working with so many people, helping them understand their dreams, I am convinced the important part is being able to catch your dream’s meaning, no matter what method you use. Sometimes you can get some great info just from one picture in a dream, so don’t get stuck thinking you need to recall a beginning, middle and end. Heather’s Repeating Dream Fragment proves you can understand important parts of yourself if you remember even one scene of a dream.
Heather: “I heard you on the radio and wanted to ask about a recurring dream in which I have chewing gum stuck to my back teeth and it won’t come off. I have to put my finger back there and pull it off. I have had it 5 times in the last month. What do you make of it?”
I offered, “If I was dreaming there was chewing gum stuck behind my teeth, and it wouldn’t come off, I would probably be having a difficult time saying something to someone. I could potentially have a dream like that at times when I really have some important feelings I need to express, and am stopping myself from letting the words come out. In other words, I am stuck.”
Heather admitted she did have something to say that she’d been holding back.
The way Heather’s unconscious used the image of the gum serves three purposes. One, it stops her tongue from moving easily, (from expressing herself). Second, she uses the symbol as a pun about feeling stuck. We often use puns and play on words in our dreams same as we do in waking life. Finally, the gum not coming off helps mirror Heather’s frustration which she was actually feeling in her waking-life situation.
It’s the best idea to write your dream out because often if you read the dream back to yourself, you can find the answer to the issue there in the plot or action in the dream. Here, for example, Heather is able to remove the gum by putting her finger back there. In other words, she helps herself get it off. This might point Heather to the solution in the situation she was dealing with in her waking life.
Like Heather did in the dream, sometimes you have to help yourself away from feeling stuck. Speak to the person you need to speak to. By the way, in case you’re not comfortable with expressing yourself, you don’t need to spill all the beans. The fact is, even if you say only a bit, you will figuratively let some air out of the balloon and the recurring dream will stop. A recurring dream image typically disappears once the dreamer is asking questions about it and trying to understand its meaning.
Heather responded, “Your answer makes perfect sense, but I am sorry to say that I will probably never get to tell the person what is ‘stuck’.” It turned out that Heather was angry with her Mom and Dad, and that’s why she didn’t feel okay about speaking up.
I’ll leave Heather’s Dream with this: Even though you may not feel comfortable speaking out to the person you’d love to express yourself to, or it’s a situation in which you actually can’t speak up, you still free up the energy by talking about your situation to anyone and the fact that you now understand the meaning of your dream, means that chances are, that image will not return.
The symbols we use are as unique to each of us as our fingerprint. Your unconscious mind is this incredibly vast database holding every single memory and association you have ever had since you were born. For example, if I asked my brother what comes to his mind when he thinks of his teeth, he might say something about how he got punched by a bully when we were kids, and he “lost the nerve” in one of his teeth. So, he might dream about teeth when he has some situation in his waking life this week that has him feeling like he’s “lost his nerve”. Get it? That’s how we use the language of metaphor.
Be safe. Throw out those dream dictionaries…..or at least wait until after you have instead first asked yourself what your own associations to the images are! If you work with a friend to help them understand their dream, it’s smart to begin your sentence with, “If this were my dream…..” That way you show respect for the dreamer’s personal associations and you can see if they relate to your ideas about what their dream might mean!