Many people come to this site, read about a symbol in their dream and then ask me what their dream means. The short answer is – I don’t really know. I can’t tell you what influences are at play in your life. I am not privy to what personal circumstances have caused a particular symbol to resonate with you. All I can do is explain what certain symbols may mean in a more general sense. It is up to you then to apply these hints and discover the unique insights a dream may have for you. Without context, a dream is just a mere generalisation. There is no “one size fits all” solution to dream interpretation. But I know this is really difficult to many people. And I really wish I could help you all! But as that is completely impractical, today I am going to take a bold step and explain how a dream has worked in my life, and maybe this will help those of you who feel a little lost in understanding your own dreams. I am not used to this level of personal disclosure to such a wide and unknown audience, so please understand this takes a lot of bravery on my part, and be kind to me!
As I mentioned to begin with, we can never really understand a dream without context. So this is mine. Newly separated from a husband of nearly 17 years (nearly 20 years together) I am now living in a lovely new house that is flooded by golden morning sunlight and surrounded with beautiful, but rather overgrown gardens. We share custody of my gorgeous two boys who are the light of my life, and I have two gentle and affectionate cats to keep me company when the boys are not around. All this is well and good, and as much as I have looked forward to moving here and starting the new chapter of my life after the trauma of the break-up, I now find myself with a lot of time on my hands in a sometimes rather empty house, feeling overwhelmed as I consider the blank pages of my life before me. Who am I now? Where do I start to rebuild a life after most of my adulthood has been shared with another, and that I thought would last forever? Big questions. Ones that trouble me more than I care to admit to kind and supportive friends and family.
So rather than confront these questions head on, I have been avoiding them, like the pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen I just kind of hope someone else will get around to tidying for me. I have been spending my evenings alone, scouring the internet for deals on all the little things I feel I “need” to complete my home. Now don’t get me wrong, my house is perfectly livable as it is. We each have beds, I have a table and chairs to eat at, a sofa to sit before the fire and even another room with some old chairs and a bookshelf for my beloved books (that I hardly seem to read anymore.) By most standards in the world I am very well off. And yet… this has not been enough for me. The living room needed a rug, I would really like some stools to sit at the kitchen bench, the boys room needed new curtains that were more fun and colourful, and I have a whole empty room I am just itching to turn into a home office… the list goes on.
The point is, I have been feeling an incredible sense of lack. I have a gaping hole in my heart and in my life, and I have been seeking to fill this void with more “stuff.” As if, should I manage to just perfectly furnish and decorate my home, then somehow my life will be better, fuller, more in control. Now there are some things I do consider important in making a house feel like home – especially for my two young boys so this major life transition is made as smoothly as possible. Painting the bedroom walls and making home-made name plaques for them has been an important part of that. But I know all the rest of this, night after night, seeking the ideal kitchen stools or a mirror to go over the mantle piece, are all simply distractions.
But worse than this, I have fallen into the trap of consumption. Not only am I seeking to buy more things, thereby trapping me in a cycle of needing to find more money so I can spend more, but I am also consuming the “empty calories” of late nights spent mindlessly scrolling through ebay and gumtree and discount home sites, to say nothing of pinterest etc. for “inspiration.” While my daytime hours are busy with children, I have noticed a disturbing creep of the need to check my phone and see what that cabinet sold for, or if the special deal of rugs has finished yet. I have been aware of this, but like an addiction, I have not really wanted to admit how it was effecting me. My life has been consumed and I have been in denial.
So what then, of my dream? It was not, as you may think, some rich symbology or complex narrative (the story was there, but it was too complex for me to remember.) There were in actual fact three main elements that made me take stock and listen to the scrappy remnant I could recall of this dream.
- The dream had resonance. This was a dream that stood out from other dreams. I can’t tell you exactly why, simply that it felt different. I felt I was being given instruction, that this dream was important and I should pay attention. When you sense this from a dream, no matter how faint your recollection, take heed! Even the simplest thing may be a key for massive transformation.
- The dream was part of a story, and even in my sleep, I felt I should remember this dream and share this story. Hence why I am writing this. Unfortunately this article is not the grand, world changing epic I thought it was going to be as I slept (have you ever composed or created some kind of masterpiece in your dreams, only to wake and feel it slip frustratingly from your mind before you could properly grasp and recreate it? This was one of those. In my dream I knew that I was being instructed on the very Meaning of Life. Not just mine.)
- I was left with a single word. My dream was telling me the meaning of life, and while it will take me while yet to explore how I can explain this to everyone else, the personal revelation was immediate. The word? Satisfaction. To be satisfied.
In my personal circumstances it may seem easy to simply say, oh yes look at the context of how I have been misspending my time, and I should just be satisfied with what I have. No matter what new things I acquire they will never be enough. But I could not have written that context with the degree of insight I had, had I not been reflecting on the dream word all day. The dream has influenced my ability to explain my context. While I knew of course I was distracted, the dream acted as a wake-up call to reassess my behaviours. But the dream also gave me insight into why I was behaving the way I have been. Of course I knew this already – that is what dreams often do, tell us the truth we know but are avoiding. Even more, the dream was a call to action – a cry to stop looking outwards and start looking inwards, to redirect my energy. A whole torrent of ideas as to how to do this has followed, and I would like to share these with you over coming posts. This may not be an epic post, but at the very least my dream is challenging me to step into an epic life.
I would like to pause a moment and consider the words, and my reactions to them a little more closely.
1. Firstly, there was my instinctive and immediate response “I should be satisfied with what I have.” When you have dream reaction like this, take note. This your subconscious speaking to you directly – pay attention!
2. But I also suggest you go further. The next step is contemplation, or reflection. I have ben thinking about where in my life I am not satisfied, why I am not, and what behaviours are expressing this. Then, what needs to change?
3. Beyond this, we can gain even more insight into what our dream is trying to tell us by doing some research. This is what brings most of my dear readers to The Dream Well. While it is an important step, without trusting your instincts and doing your own reflective work, it is of minimal help on it’s own. So what did my own research reveal to me? I looked up the definitions and root words for both satisfaction and satisfied. Here is one example:
“Satisfaction” from Merriam Webster:
a the payment through penance of the temporal punishment incurred by a sin b : reparation for sin that meets the demands of divine justice
a fulfillment of a need or want b : the quality or state of being satisfied : contentment c : a source or means of enjoyment : gratification
a compensation for a loss or injury : atonement, restitution b : the discharge of a legal obligation or claim c : vindication
convinced assurance or certainty <proved to the satisfaction of the court>
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin satisfaction-, satisfactio, from Latin, reparation, amends, from satisfacere to satisfy. First Known Use: 14th century
“Satisfied” from Merriam Webster:
a to carry out the terms of (as a contract) : discharge b : to meet a financial obligation to
to make reparation to (an injured party) : indemnify
a to make happy : please b : to gratify to the full : appease
a convince b to put an end to (doubt or uncertainty) : dispel
a to conform to (as specifications) : be adequate to (an end in view) b : to make true by fulfilling a condition <values that satisfy an equation><satisfy a hypothesis>
: to be adequate : suffice; also : please
Middle English satisfien, from Anglo-French satisfier, modification of Latin satisfacere, from satis enough + facere to do, make do. First Known Use: 15th century
From this research I can start to understand more subtle indications of my dream.
- When it comes to buying more things for the house, I can really just make do.
- When thinking about addressing the cause for my need to buy more things, I need to consider what makes me content, what gives me gratification.
- Intrinsically related to this is be grateful for what I have, practicing gratitude.
- On another level I can consider that my marriage contract is now over, on a legal, emotional or karmic level, my deal has been satisfied – I am truly free to let it go now.
- Any lingering doubts I have had about starting to live my new life fully can now be dispelled.
I could go on, and in my own time I will. But hopefully this example can highlight how even one simple word can be an invaluable key when you focus on and listen to your dreams.
There is one final stage to working with dreams which I believe so many people overlook, or at least do not consciously and mindfully attend to – and that is honouring your dream. When a dream gives us advice, I believe we should act on it, even if we don’t understand it fully. I dreamed I should share this story, so here I am. I also have very powerful messages as to what I can do to improve my life: to move me past this sense of being overwhelmed and to stop avoiding stepping boldly into the next chapter. The pages before me are still blank, but my mind no longer is. I am full of ideas as to what I should do, and would like to share these with you as I work through them. With this dream work in action, you may then begin to see how, like the layers of an onion, once we start to work with a dream and peel back one meaning, many more are hidden deeper below.
To be continued…
1st Image by Gun Legler “Trying to Understand”
2nd Image unable to locate source, from Google search