How To Dissect A Dream

I had this absolutely terrifying dream the other night. Okay, since it was scary I guess that classifies it as a nightmare.

In the nightmare, I’m out with a friend and we’re having so much fun dancing the night away. When suddenly, she somehow gets hurt and we have to find her help. Next thing you know, there is some kind of shooter that shows up to this location, and bullets are flying everywhere. Someone pulls my friend from me and assures me they will find her help and I should gtfo asap, but before I can respond, this rando is running away with my friend. I’m petrified and attempt to take off after them, when I notice one of the gunmen pausing from his shooting escapade and taking some moments to look around – as if he’s looking for something specific. I quickly dash between some vehicles to hide (this location was a large indoor/outdoor open space with parking lot right there) and then the paused gunman ends up running just past me unleashing a spray of bullets in his path. I was certain I would get shot, but somehow I didn’t. After waiting a few moments, determining it was safe, I then take off on this journey to find my friend.

By the end of my dream, I had potentially found her? But the folks taking care of her wouldn’t let me in and were super rude (from what I remember) and then I woke up. With no resolution. I was pissed, confused, worried, and still terrified, to be honest. I hadn’t had a dream that intense in a while.

What could the dream mean? It had to mean something of significance. So, I begin breaking the dream up by asking myself the following questions:

1. Was I reading/watching anything just before going to sleep that echoed any part of the dream?

What you consume really does have effect on your psyche. I had finished reading an intense book that day, but nothing quite that level of intense. So I quickly ruled out literature as playing a part in my dream, and as for TV – I had been watching the BBC four-part rendition of Jane Austen’s Emma, so I knew that certainly had no play in my dream!

I also tried to remember if I ate anything weird before falling asleep, I had a friend growing up where whenever she ate a pop-tart before going to sleep, it almost locked in that she would have some weird dreams to chat about the next day. But I hadn’t eaten anything a couple of hours prior to sleeping, so I ruled out consumption of food as being a key player in this dream.

2. Who was in the dream?

With this dream, even though “my friend” was there – I never saw her face, it was always swirled, blurred, or distorted. And same goes for all of the other characters of the dream. Which means, this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with a specific person/people in my life. I don’t need to psychoanalyze any relationships with people.

3. What was the most prominent feature of the dream?

The shooting – there were bullets flying everywhere, just being sprayed. I’ve only had one active shooter nightmare in my entire life, and I had been directly shot in the back during that one… but in this dream, I was somehow not hit with any of the flying bullets.

So now I need to look into the symbolism of shooting in dreams, if there is any.

I came across the Dream Bible’s shooting possible meanings, I won’t list them all, but the most relevant to my dream were: “To dream of seeing a shooting may reflect awareness of something in your life being cancelled, stopped, or purposely failed. A fight or conflict of interests in waking life. Feeling that people or life are working against you in some way. Feeling intentionally antagonized, attacked, or embarrassed. Feeling shocked by a sudden loss or setback. To dream of being shot at, but missed symbolizes people or situations that are attempting to control your decisions.

To further break this down, the prominent object in the dream was a gun, which according to a must-have dream interpretation book, “I Had The Strangest Dream…: The Dreamer’s Dictionary for the 21st Century” by Kelly Sullivan Walden, a gun in a dream symbolizes, “a desire for power over life and death, and that you are desperate about asserting boundaries to get what you need or want.

4. What were the most prominent feelings I experienced in my dream?

I was clearly terrified of being attacked, but I also felt territorial over my friend (I thought it was protective at first, but it was actually more territorial that I had felt), and I felt anxious.

5. Is there any correlation between those feelings/people from the dream into my waking life?

Right after I laid out my feelings, it clicked – just before bed that night I had an intense moment of fear. It was this past Sunday, we had an early morning call scheduled for work the next morning, and just as I was setting my alarm before bed, I instantly became worried that I needed to physically be in the office for the call, that we weren’t working from home and were expected to commute into the office. This was a totally bizarre anxiety flare up, I rationalized that if I were meant to go to the office, that it wouldn’t be a question and I would know for a fact… but either way, I went to bed anxious that I was meant to go in the next day, and terrified of being attacked for not being in the office for that early meeting.

Ultimately, the dream was a reflection of my just-before-bed work anxieties, Sunday Scaries literally trying to terrify me into a restless night’s sleep.

. . .

So, I solved the dream, right? It ended up being waking life anxieties that trickled into my dreams, I can disregard all of that abstract “gun and shooting” dream symbolism, right? Not necessarily, dreams aren’t math equations that are to be solved with only one answer. Dreams can have multiple meanings, it was by asking myself all of those questions above, that I was able to interpret my dream fully. I identified what triggered the dream, but I’m also able to pull from it additional info, or hidden messages if you will – such as “there are people or situations attempting to control my decisions” so I’m going to keep an eye out for those instances and stick to my *guns* and create boundaries in order to maintain my path and end goals.

While some people could say, “Oh, dreams are just dreams! Don’t look too much into it.” I don’t really buy that. A person on average has 4-6 dreams per night, most of the time waking up to remember none of them. So the ones you do remember? Ask yourself – why do you remember that one? It must have some significance.

I do believe that sometimes a butterfly is just a butterfly, but if you have some type of pull to that butterfly and suddenly it lands on your shoulder… that means something. That butterfly is just a pretty thing to me, but to you… that’s the message, or sign, that you’ve been waiting for. Listen to it, listen to the butterfly, and don’t let that message go unread.

. . .

Published by

Emily Smith

Core Values: Adaptability, Empathy, Intuition, & Dedication. A creature of habit with a passion for the world, I spend an abnormal amount of time plotting my next vacay on google maps. I often yearn for adventure and to be anywhere other than where I am and with a strong drink in my hand. I currently hail in Brooklyn, but I've spent a greater part of my life in both Indiana and Kentucky and a blip of time living in Caen, France. I have an affinity for exploration and New Age practices, so feel free to reach out to me for travel tips, dream interpreting, mediocre palm reading, or just to have a candid conversation.

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