How to Interpret a Complicated Dream

Posted on March 8, 2018

by John E. Thomas

Dreams are funny things. Some dreams seem like they last for days, some a moment. Some can be related in a paragraph and some take pages.

Some dreams leave you with a lingering emotion—the sense of having dreamed, even if you have no memory of the dream itself. Some dreams are so real that hours pass before you realize it was “just” a dream and not what happened yesterday.

Dreams are outside the perimeters we’re familiar with and create intrigue when we try to understand them. There are times when a dream is short and simple, and the meaning seems just out of grasp. But there are other times when the dream is complicated and drawn out, and though certain portions might make a degree of sense—what does the dream really mean?

Look at the Big Picture

When you’re trying to interpret a dream, especially a complicated one, it is helpful to step back and look at the big picture. What is the dream’s basic plotline? 

If you look up “classic plotlines” on Google, you’ll find sites that suggest only seven to nine plotlines exist. They reduce complex stories like Romeo and Juliet to a tragedy or The Lord of the Rings to a quest. If you thought of your dream as a story, what would be the plotline?

Summarize Your Dream

Put another way, how could you tell your dream in as few words as possible? What is the story line without any elements? Here’s an example of what I mean:

I went into a new place and saw something I didn’t like. I stopped it from happening and suddenly was in a different place.

When you can reduce your dream to a short summary, you are very close to deciphering the dream. There are times when knowing the plotline is more essential to interpreting the dream than understanding what the individual elements mean. When you know the plotline and what each element means, the interpretation carries great weight and brings deeper understanding.

Put the Pieces Together

To interpret a summarized dream, all you have to do is take the plotline and add in what the elements mean. Natalyne Gilbert submitted this dream to us on Facebook:

I dreamed last night that I was working in corporate America with someone I knew that was elevated and I was his assistant. I was being persecuted for reading the Bible, but I remember asking him how I could help with my arm around him, and my living grandma was looking.

The plotline: You encounter difficulty while helping someone, and your grandmother is watching.

The interpretation: You will help someone in a work situation (corporate America) where it is not acceptable to show your faith (being persecuted for reading the Bible), but you will learn how to serve from a place of relationship (an arm around the boss). The faith and service you demonstrate in this dream are in your family line (grandmother).

Make Complicated Dreams Simple

Do you see how using the plotline can help you uncover a dream’s interpretation? This principle becomes even more helpful the longer the dream! John Paul called this “reducing the dream to its simplest form.” It is a great tool to simplify complicated dreams.

To Learn More…

If you want to learn more about this and other dream interpretive methods, take our course Understanding Dreams and Visions or the Dream Interpretation Intensive in the Streams Online Classroom.