In my Hangtown trilogy, one of the characters, Claire, has a series of mind-boggling dreams. She wanted to know what the dreams meant, so she asked others, including her Roma friend, Adi. That was 1852. Today Adi can't help us, but there are several useful resources that can. One of these is called the dream ego.
The dream ego is the image of you in the dream. The actions, attitudes, and feelings of the dream ego are revealing. They tell us things about ourselves we either haven't noticed; or, if we have seen them, we aren't taking these parts of ourselves seriously enough.
There are three steps for working with the dream ego. They'll provide a perspective that is different from our initial understanding of the dream, which is what we want.
I am in college in England. It's a fancy private school. I have been away for a while but am returning with good intentions to take advantage of what is here.
Here are three steps.
Step One: Follow the action of the dream ego.
This step looks at what the dream ego is doing, and not doing, to highlight the decisions that the dream ego is making.
A) Rewrite the dream describing what the dream ego is doing.
Example: I have gone to England for schooling. I am in a fancy private college, one I attended during an earlier time of my life. I intend to take advantage of what the school has to offer.
Decisions: To go to school
Not any school, but a fancy, private one
This time to take advantage of what is offered
B) Rewrite the dream describing what the dream ego is not doing.
Example: I'm not staying home, continuing what I'm currently doing.
I don't ignore or decline the invitation to attend the school.
I am not going to England to seek a job, to vacation, to visit a friend, to teach others, or to have fun.
I am not in a public school, not surrounded by everyday folks, not going to a school everyone can access.
I am not here to repeat my previous experience.
These are the thoughts that come to me quickly. More thoughts might occur later. This part of the exercise illuminates behaviors or decisions I am not making. It tells me what in the dream might be unusual or missing.
Step One Conclusion: My unconscious (source of the dream) wants me to open up to something new. I will do this by returning to an old, familiar way of learning. This time I will do a better job.
Step Two: Describe the feelings and attitudes of the dream ego.
A) List the dream ego's feelings and attitudes.
Example: A transition is at hand. I am leaving my comfort zone to go to a place I haven't been to in a long time.
I feel adventurous about going to England for school.
I am happy for a second chance.
I am familiar with fancy schools.
I am not concerned about the school's exclusivity.
I feel special to be attending this school.
I am determined to take advantage of the opportunity.
B) Describe the attitudes or feelings your ego experiences that are missing from the dream.
Example: I'm not interested in returning to school.
Traveling to Europe for school would be intimidating.
I'd be uncomfortable attending an exclusive school.
I'd be insecure about being able to learn what was taught.
The thrill of adventure is a minor influence in my life.
C) Go through the list of feelings and attitudes, and ask each one:
Is this a new feeling or attitude for me?
What is unusual about this feeling or attitude?
Example: The adventurous feeling is unusual.
Going to England for school is new and not a typical thing I'd do.
Step Two Conclusion: In this dream, none of the feelings or attitudes of the dream ego are unexpected or unusual. The absence of playfulness is noteworthy though. Whatever it is I'm to learn, my unconscious views as a serious matter, and the unconscious is determined I take advantage of it.
Step Three: Ask the dream ego questions.
In this step, we seek to correlate the dream ego's actions/decisions and feeling/attitudes with what's currently going on in our waking lives.
Example: Describe what the dream ego did or felt that I'm not doing in my waking life.
What is my old, familiar approach to learning? What do I need to do differently that'll improve its effectiveness? What is going on in my life now that's like this? What opportunity beckons me?
Since this dream indicates a transition is at hand, I want to know what past change or transition needs revisiting—and doing better? What transition am I being called to make?
Am I resisting making the change the unconscious wants me to make? If so, why?
Step Three Conclusion: In this dream, the dream ego has the opportunity to redo something it didn't take full advantage of when it first experienced it. What might that be? How would my life be different if I did what the dream ego is doing? What is preventing me from doing this? Also, why isn't there room for playfulness?
My reflections: I've never attended school in England, much less a fancy one, so the dream isn't about a second chance to do that. This dream is about something else.
I had this dream at the beginning of my retirement. At the time of the dream, I was looking for what I was going to do. A return to writing, an interest in school I never took seriously, was an opportunity that attracted me, though this time, my writing would be fiction, not non-fiction, with a new determination. Writing a novel would be an exciting adventure that would take me to new places. Since I'd never written a novel, I have much to learn.
Give this exercise a try with one of your dreams. Let me know if you find the steps helpful. Since I used a short dream to demonstrate how the process works, not every section of the exercise proved to be revealing. That's not uncommon. Give each step a try, but don't fret if a section isn't useful. Another will be.
Send your questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.