The Purpose of Dreams

A wolf is chasing you through the forest.  You reach a wall with no where to go.  You turn around and the wolf, terrified, and knowing that this wolf is going to eat you.  The wolf jumps, you close your eyes and put up your arms to protect yourself.  And THEN… you wake up.

Even awake you still feel distraught and a bit restless, and you kept help but wonder What on earth was that about?  We’ve all felt this way at some point or another.  We’ve all had some really weird dream that left us puzzled and wanting to have the dream interpreted so we know what it meant.  Not only do I find the dreams themselves interesting but even our response to them the next day by being so influenced to find answers to the meaning behind it.  Because it is such a non-concrete topic, science hasn’t quite established any one “true” explanation as to why we dream, yet we can see by human reaction that what we dream must be important or else we wouldn’t have so many emotions and motivations tied to them.  So why do we dream?

I feel like this could probably be taken two routes: psychology and spirituality, yet both of these routes are interconnected whether we really wish to believe it or not.

From a psychological standpoint, many dream theories can be based off those of Carl Jung, who believed that dreams are a reflection of personal challenges that our subconscious is working through.  Jung believed that our dreams and the symbols within them are different aspects of our psyche.  The psyche includes all aspects of us, which includes the self, persona, ego (how we act and project ourselves), personal unconscious, shadow (the part of us we repress), anima/animus (male/female counterparts), and collective unconscious.  Instead of going into any complex detail with each one of these parts (which gets rather confusing and I honestly don’t even fully understand), I will keep this simple by saying that the dreams are signs of what psychological aspects we need to become aware of and work through at that point in time.  The dreams are a reflection of the anxieties, fears, and blocks we are creating for ourselves that is influencing us to repress a deeper part of ourselves.

This is very interrelated from even a spiritual standpoint, though, of course, when you consider more of the spiritual aspect of it you consider that these dream messages may not only be coming from a part within you but also from a source higher than you.  You can consider that these symbols, messages, and feelings are in fact coming from your spiritual guides and angels.  Personally, I’ve always found this to make the most sense.  After all, many historical texts and religious texts like the bible even document receiving messages through dreams.  Whoever said that people could back then but then “suddenly” can’t communicate with your guides and angels today?  Your guides, higher self, and angels are always trying to communicate in anyway that they can with you all the time for guidance, but you just have to allow their messages to emerge by becoming more aware of them.

So, to sum up this initial post on the topic of dreams: We dream in order to become more aware of the blocks that we are causing ourselves.  Dreams are filled with symbols and messages that are there to notify us that many of these emotions and limiting voices that we are hearing in our heads are truly, in fact, only in our heads!

To give you a better understanding of this, I’ll give you a recent example of mine.  For the past few days I’ve been under a debate about where to spend my summer vacation.  I had one idea in mind that I was very excited about, but I kept having anxieties and doubts about following through with this idea because I heard that it was a very expensive place to go to.  So for a few days I kept debating on the idea and putting it off in making any flight booking.

The dream that I had after a couple days was this:  It was Christmas and I was with my parents and brother.  I believe I was also a younger child again in this dream.  For some reason, we didn’t have any “official” plans for Christmas Eve yet.  We went to church and there was a posting for a concert event that was going to go on that evening.  I was excited about it and so was my brother so we told our parents that we wanted to go.  It cost $300 and my parents said no because they thought it was too expensive.  Instead we went to a movie theater though I was disappointed and still wanted to go.

Though there are still some symbols in the dream that I’m not 100% sure of the meaning (so if anyone could offer additional insight it’d be appreciated!), the general message I gathered here was that I was excited about something but I was allowing my inner voices (in this case, of my parents) to make me believe that it is not okay to spend money on trips and events that I’m really excited about.  So should I allow these inner voices to block me in doing things that I find potentially exciting and fulfilling?  Probably not.  I also feel like the “3” in the 300 symbolizes a need to stay focused of a sense of harmony and balance that are three-fold.  For me, what comes to  mind are things such as: “mind, body, spirit”, the holy trinity, “past, present, future”, and the 3 of Cups tarot card.  Of course, that can vary upon the person and what emotions and feelings they have associated with that type of symbol.

A lot of times if we just sit back and reflect on the general emotional tone of the dream, that alone can provide us with the main message that the dream is trying to convey.


About Jennifer Twardowski

Jennifer is a graduate student in transpersonal counseling psychology. Her interests are in personality typology (MBTI, Enneagram, Jungian typology), expressive arts, dreams, yoga, tarot and oracle cards, world religions, dance, photography, gardening, floral design, and more!

Posted on July 11, 2012, in Dreams, Intuition, Psychology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hello and thank you for this post. I just awoke from a dream that was terrible! I just got out of a tumultuous realationship and have been to healing and addressing my issues since. I started reading the book ” Healing The Shame That Binds You ” and have been doing a personal assessment on when I experience shame. I feel asleep thinking about / missing certain aspects of my ex. I ended having a dream about what would happen if I allowed him back into my life and it was much worst than it was before. I absolutely experienced a moment when I was shame bound and that shame caused me to avoid speaking my truth and acting. Instead I became internal and started putting other people’s feelings before my own. I also whitnessed me losing myself and what I know is true by not having boundaries and being captivated by shame.

    This was one of the “realest” dreams that I have ever had. For example, I was trying to resolve real issues with him ( that I had in real life) in the dream. There were three primary resounding messages here, how shame has bound me, effects of my loose boundaries, and three Don’t Give Him an In into my life!!! I awoke with a headache, which is rare for me.

    Would love to hear your thoughts 🙂


    • Hi Koni, sorry about the delayed reply! I just got back from my vacation yesterday so I’m just going through and catching up on everything today. I’ll say that from my experience of keeping a dream journal is that this is the irony with dreams: The scarier the dream, the bigger the transformation that we are experiencing. It sounds contradictory, but nightmares are really a good sign!

      In your case, it seems that all of these new thoughts on shame and your self-evaluation was already on your mind, so the dream allowed you to see the full picture of these new things that you’ve learned in context. It’s basically your unconscious confirming the things that you’re conscious mind has only recently learned.

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