California-based Linda Mastrangelo, M.A., LMFT, a psychotherapist specializing in dream analysis, says working with dreams can lead you to the core of the issue you’re grappling with. Bringing consciousness to these issues can help you explore creative solutions.

“Dreams can show us [the] consequences of our choices,” says Mastrangelo via email. “I have had clients share dreams in which they were struggling with a large financial purchase like buying a new house or deciding whether to change careers and their dreams revealed to them what would happen if they made that particular choice.”

Linda H. Mastrangelo, dream interpretation
Courtesy of Linda H. Mastrangelo

Dreams are fleeting creatures, so it’s best to record them in a “dream journal” as soon as you wake up. Keeping a notebook or even a voice recorder by your bedside makes documenting your dreams convenient, writes California-based clinical psychologist Stephen Brewer, Psy.D., on his website. Mastrangelo adds that voice memos, dream journal apps, or Word documents can also work.

When it comes to putting pen to paper (or thumbs to smartphone), dreamers can write, draw, collage, or do whatever makes the most sense to them.

“Personal preference is key and one should follow what feels right,” says Mastrangelo. “In other words, there is no right or wrong way but whatever is the desired and/or appropriate medium to ground dreams that works for you.”

For organizing and archiving dreams, she recommends labeling each dream with: 1) a title, 2) date of the dream, 3) emotions of the dream, 4) summary of events that occurred the day before, and 5) images of the dream, songs and/or short snippets of the dream.

Decoding dreams might seem like a weird and/or daunting task at first, but dreamers should be patient and open. Mastrangelo says to keep track of themes, metaphors, actions, places, people, symbols, and emotions as you fill out your dream journal.

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“Looking at play on words can give us insight as well as exploring associations,” says Mastrangelo. “For example, in car dreams, we can look at certain aspects like: Who is driving? Where am I going? Am I lost and driving in the wrong direction? Fast or slow, safe or erratic? These questions can bring more insight to what is happening in our waking state.”

Some think that certain symbols and images that appear in dreams have specific meanings. There are some universal symbols and experiences that may connect to stresses of work and money, says Mastrangelo. However, the personal aspect of dreams means we might draw our own associations.

Dreams of clothing, for instance, might have something to do with identity in the workplace — something that Carl Jung would have labeled a “persona dream,” says Mastrangelo. Dreams of ill-fitting uniforms might indicate whether or not a job is a “good fit.”

Money-related dream symbols might be losing one’s wallet, fancy cars, mansions, and lottery tickets.

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If you’re one of those types that “doesn’t dream” — you’re wrong. We all dream, we just might not remember them. If you’re keen on remembering your dreams better to sort out a financial problem, try a couple techniques Mastrangelo writes about in her article, “Dreams 101: How to remember your dreams.” She goes back to the dream journal idea:

“Keep a journal and writing implement by your bed. By honoring a place for your dreams allows for ‘permission’ and motivation to recall them,” writes Mastrangelo. “It also helps to give yourself verbal suggestions before bedtime that you will remember your dream when you awake. Mindful intention is key to dream recall.”

Alcohol, medication, high stress, illness, or fear of the dream material itself are some factors thought to impact dream remembrance.

Revisiting anxiety dreams may be stressful or even triggering, but if you’re up for the challenge, it can reveal underlying solutions that you’ve never thought of before.

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