Tapping the Power of Your Dreams. Tips For Remembering and Interpreting their Life-Changing Messages

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s New York Times Bestseller Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Three Rivers Press, 2011)

As a psychiatrist, I believe that dreams  provide extraordinary insights into improving your health, relationships, and career. I consult my dreams for all important decisions using a technique which I describe in “Emotional Freedomand  below. You'd be surprised at the invaluable advice that your dreams give, either spontaneously or on request.

Science magazine reports that sleeping on something or “unconscious thought” can result in smarter decisions than over-thinking--especially with important choices. For instance, if you’re going crazy analyzing the pros and cons of a relationship, the Science study says that won’t get you very far. Rather, it proposes that you think less and sleep on the dilemma, an opportunity for your subconscious to solve the problem.

I subscribe to the “sleep on it” school of decision-making which involves drawing on the wisdom of dreams. Why do we dream? To find answers, resolve emotional conflicts, and discharge negativity. Also to stabilize our biochemistry and mood. But, to me, another interesting question is, “Why do we wake up? Native American and Aboriginal cultures revere dream-time over waking life--they base tribal law on information obtained there. The Maoris believe that when we die, we return to the dream world. Kalahari Bushmen say, “There is a dream and it is dreaming us.”  So, in your own life, your dreams can contain advice that goes beyond the Annals of Internal Medicine.

I recommend the following strategies to remember your dreams.

5 Strategies to Remember Dreams (from “Emotional Freedom.”)

  1. Keep a dream  journal and pen by your bed.
  2. Write a question (just one!) in the journal before sleep.
  3. Wake up slowly. In the morning, spend some quiet moments remembering your dream. Luxuriate in a peaceful feeling between sleep and waking, what’s called the “hypnagogic state.” Those initial moments provide a doorway.
  4.  Record your dream immediately--otherwise it will evaporate. You may recall a face, object, color, scenario, or feel an emotion. It doesn't matter if it makes perfect sense. Do not censor anything. Nothing is too “strange” or “weird.”
  5. See how the dream answers your question. Act on this answer and see if your life improves

Try this every day for a week. Keep at it. You are programming your subconscious to remember. Soon it will become second nature to you.

How do you interpret dreams? One key to is to notice the most highly charged emotion in the dream—for instance, anger, fear, or joy. Next ask yourself “where in my life am I feeling these emotions?”  Then, consider, how you can heal the situation or else celebrate a success. In addition, here are some common dreams and their interpretations.

A Guide to Intepreting Common Psychological Dreams

Dreams about your fears, anxieties, and insecurities

You’re  standing buck naked in front of a group of people who are pointing at you.
Meaning: You feel exposed, vulnerable, and unsafe about a situation.

You’re taking a test and panic that you don’t know the answers.
Meaning: You feel unprepared to meet a challenge or solve an emotional dilemma.

You’re being chased by a horrifying pursuer.
Meaning: You’re trying to escape a scary person or emotion (past or present) instead of facing it.  

You lose your wallet and are stranded without credit cards or cash.
Meaning: You’re afraid you’re without the emotional resources to cope with one or more aspects of your life.

Your teeth fall out, crack, or decay.
Meaning: You feel that a source of power has been taken away in your life; you can’t bite back or assert your needs in a situation. Also you may experience a lack of energy or nurturing from others. (Without strong teeth, it’s hard to chew food and assimilate its nutrients necessary for vitality).

You’re wandering around lost, unable to find your way home.
Meaning: You lack a sense of inner or outer direction. You don’t know how to get back on track with a situation or relationship and don’t feel emotionally supported.

Dreams affirming your strengths, emotional achievements, and largeness of spirit

You’re able to fly, a natural, joyous feeling.
Meaning: You’re empowered, creative, unfettered by the drag of negativity.

You triumph over impossible odds--there is a flood, landslide, or a war and you survive.
Meaning: You have the courage, strength, and heart to overcome difficult emotional obstacles.

You give birth or watch someone give birth.
Meaning: You’re coming into your own, thriving. It’s a time of new beginnings for relationships, career, or revitalizing health and emotions.

You feel vibrant, eating (not overeating) a delicious meal in good company.
Meaning: You’re nourishing yourself emotionally and others are nourishing you.

You’re getting married or celebrating someone else’s wedding
Meaning: You’re becoming whole! Your physical, emotional, and spiritual sides are becoming integrated.  You’re ready for more of an emotional commitment to yourself, your work, or another person.

Dreams let you pinpoint an emotional conflict, so you can solve it. For instance, if you’re standing naked before a group of jeering coworkers, ask yourself, “Might I have feelings of being exposed or berated at work?” Then take steps to feel more protected in that environment. Or if, in a dream, you’re wandering aimlessly, consider, “Where am I lost in my life, and how can I find my way?” Also, it’s crucial to honor the messages of encouragement dreams send. Emotional freedom comes from removing blocks as well as acknowledging your own clarity and power. 


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About Judith Orloff
Judith Orloff MD is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and NY Times bestselling author. Her latest national bestseller is The Power of Surrender: Let Go and Energize Your Relationships, Success, and Well-Being (Harmony; Reprint edition, September 22, 2015). Dr. Orloff's other bestsellers are Emotional Freedom, Positive Energy, Guide to Intuitive Healing, and Second Sight. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness.

Visit Dr. Orloff's YouTube Channel at



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