Dream analysis prompts can help you tap into parts of your subconscious you didn’t even know existed. From simple investigative answers to dream questing and active imagination, these 12 prompts for dream analysis will reveal surprising meanings and unique interpretations of your dreams.
Every time I decide to journal, after about a week, I get stuck!
See, most of your thoughts and emotions find footing in pre-established patterns. The magic of journaling comes from breaking away from the formulaic condition of your psyche.
Recently, I’ve found prompts – short questions – that have helped me look at my day from a different angle.
And I must say, the results were surprising. I didn’t even realize how meaningful the seemingly mundane experiences of daily life are. And how much they reveal about yourself.
Now, what if we apply the same methodology to dream journaling? The subconscious is a complex structure of your mind that must be illuminated strategically in order to make sense of it.
So, in this context, prompts can be an invaluable tool for your dream analysis. A breakthrough from typical oneirology.
6 Prompts to Set your Intention
Dream analysis begins right before you sleep. It’s imperative to figure out exactly what’s bothering you or what you need help with.
Most people believe that dreams are merely a categorization of memories and events from the day before. So, they appear random and chaotic.
If you’ve been reading our blog, you already know how they’re a medium for invaluable insight… if you’re able to sort them out that is.
But to do that, you need to be honest with yourself and determine the root cause of your current psychological state. Because if you don’t, the symbols and images – the language of the dreamworld – won’t make much sense without an anchor that grounds them to your personal experience.
1. I feel… About/Because of…
We start with the most simple prompt. But also the most difficult to fill in.
The key here is to bridge the predominant emotion with an event.
- I feel angry about the way my boss dismissed my idea in front of everyone.
- I feel anxious about the upcoming trip.
- I feel indecisive about my new career choice.
- I feel happy because of the upcoming trip.
- I feel frustrated because of my performance in school.
Your emotional body is complicated and constantly shifting around. You’re usually bombarded by multiple emotions competing for your attention. That’s totally ok. Do your best to identify the most dominant one.
Tip: It’s usually about a situation in the near future or the near past. Something that happened or will happen this week/month.
2. Identify why You Feel the Emotion
What’s the pattern here? Why does this particular emotion occur for those specific events?
Don’t try to invalidate yourself or rationalize your emotions negatively. What you’re feeling is right. No judgment. Nothing less than radical acceptance.
Just make sure to pen down the causes and the potential outcomes that are creating the disturbance, negative or positive.
3. What Makes this Emotion Personal?
Usually, it’s not the event itself that causes distress but how we interpret it. Or, more precisely, how we relate to it.
Everyone feels but WHY you feel this way is rooted in the past and the near present. What are the mechanics about this event, the form that gives rise to your emotions.
Don’t worry if this doesn’t make much sense, I’ll give you an example at the end.
4. Ask Yourself if You were Honest
Sometimes we don’t even know we’re hiding from ourselves. Taking a step back and reassessing your analysis can reveal that you interpreted the situation wrong.
Maybe something else is bothering you and you’re using an irrelevant experience to hide from the real problem.
Use this dream prompt to be ruthlessly honest!
5. Take Responsibility
No matter what the situation is, whether you were wronged or simply unlucky, you need to take responsibility for your feelings.
This will create a safe space for your subconscious to start healing and providing insight!
The admission itself will get rid of latent guilt, eventually giving you some relief from the burden of the unknown.
6. Set Your Intention
Now that you’ve properly broken down the issue, you’ll have a clear picture of what you need to do next.
Setting your intention means to… just ask your subconscious about advice.
It can be as elaborate as you wish, but I urge you to be open about the kind of feedback you should expect.
The intention can be a statement or a question:
- “Let me know if the next step I’m taking is the right one”
- “What’s the consequences of my decisions?”
- “Why did this happen to me? What’s the lesson I need to extrapolate from it?”
Write it down.
Here’s what Everything Should Look Like in the End:
- I feel guilty about my anger towards my girlfriend.
- I feel guilty because, during our argument, I knew it wasn’t her fault, yet I became angry for no apparent reason.
- It was the tone of her voice that angered me, not the things she was saying.She was sweet and genuinely caring but I was simply rejecting her opinion at that moment out of fear. It wasn’t anger… it was fear that she was in fact right.
- I take full responsibility for not being more patient and open.
- Did I project my issues to her? If so, what should be my next step towards establishing a more honest relationship with her?
This is simply a short example. If you feel inspired to elaborate more under each prompt, feel free to do so.
6 Prompts to Analyze Your Dreams
The purpose of the first part, beyond getting to the bottom of your problem, is to saturate your awareness. This is why writing just before you hit the sack is important. It’ll induce a semi-hypnotic state that will reiterate during your sleep.
So, if everything goes well, the dream you’ll experience will spring out of your pages.
1. Write Everything Down
Goes without saying that dreams are like smoke. They’ll quickly vanish unless you manage to capture them the moment they emerge.
The moment you wake up, try to write down as much as possible. You don’t need to get everything right. Just start writing.
2. What, Where, When, Who?
The previous dream prompt will help you jolt down the raw data. This one will refine it.
- What happened – The event that occurred no matter how Daedalian it seems.
- Where did it happen? – Was it outside? Your home? How was the weather or the lighting?
- When did it happen? – Is it in the past? Last week? Give it your best guess.
- Who was present? – You? Friends, family? Someone you don’t know? Were you an observer?
In the end, you’ll have outlined the dream “scene”. Not only it’ll help you remember it more vividly for longer, but it’ll also filter out the debris we accumulate from memories.
3. Overall Theme and Emotions
What emotion did you feel? What was the vibe?
Sometimes, you can easily identify the above. But usually, you need to break down the theme of your dream.
Use the information from #2 to articulate a story that encompasses all the elements of your dream.
4. Have You Seen this Dream Before?
Repetition is the mother of learning. And your subconscious loves teaching you the same lesson over and over again… if you’re paying attention.
Sift through your dream journal and try to spot common symbols and images. Compare them to today’s dream.
Are you noticing repeating patterns?
5. Was there Something Out of Place?
I call these “disruptors”. Things that don’t fit the rest of the scene. A random blue car or an old portrait you threw out years ago hanging on the wall of your home. A talking cat.
In my experience, almost all dreams have something like that. And in many cases, they’re significant.
They might appear mundane but their job is to jolt you back to awareness. Something hides behind them.
6. How Does Your Dream Relate to Your Intention?
Remember the intention you set the night before? Reread everything you wrote.
Even if on a surface level they don’t seem to be related, I want you to pretend as they do. Trust me. Suspend your belief for a moment. Try to “fit” the dream into the structure of your intention.
You’ll be surprised how much it does fit in the end!
Bonus: Vision Quest
Once you’ve done all of the above, you can turn it up a notch and use active imagination or the mythoneiric technique to relive your experience.
These two methods are particularly effective for nightmares and darker dreamers.
Having said that, you need to be careful playing around with your subconscious because things can get intense very quickly.
“Active imagination requires a state of reverie, half-way between sleep and waking. Without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable. Normality is a fine idea for those who have no imagination.”
Here’s what Everything Should Look Like in the End:
- I’m in the house of my ex-girlfriend. We’re discussing my plans for an upcoming project. Something to do with architecture but nothing specific. She seems to smirk every time I talk. And for some reason… I start crying! Suddenly, I appear to be outside. But it’s raining so I need to run. That’s where the dream ends.
- What: a conversation with my ex-girlfriend about work. Running outside in the rain.
Where: my ex’s old house. Outside. Somewhere near the university I used to study at.
When: it seems like it was in the past but I looked the same way I do now
Who: the only faces I remember are me and my ex. I was an observer.
- There was frustration more than anger. Like I didn’t feel understood. The colors were bland and muted for the most part. When I was outside, there was a lot of traffic so I felt a sense of danger to not get hit as I was running.
- Haven’t seen the dream before but that conversation seems to be an imaginary placeholder for the real conversations that happened in the past.
- The round table in the middle of the living room. It looked like a bigger version of an old wooden coffee table my parents own. We had moved the furniture near the corner of the room and we just sat across each other.
- I won’t get into the analysis but I think you can already tell I’ve made a lot of progress figuring out the meaning of the dream and how it relates to my intention, right?
The Vision Quest: Personally, if I wanted to take this a step further, I’d begin meditating for a few minutes and slowly insert myself back into the conversation. Talk back and forth and ask directly: “Why the smirk?”.
Using all of the above is a form of self-guided dreamwork. While you don’t have to do it every night, it’ll help if you become somewhat consistent with the method.
The reason is that you’ll slowly train your subconscious to listen to the needs of your conscious.
And while these prompts for dream analysis are useful, you should come up with your own. Questions and statements that are fitted for your specific needs!
Give it a shot and let me know how it goes in the comments below.
Writer. Seeking to discover my private mythology through dreams.