How Can We Make Sense Of Outer Worldly Dreams?

From Understanding Dreams Blog with Psychology Today

Why some dreams feel magical.

Some dreams feel magical. My client Carly had such a dream, filled with flashing UFOs, giant robots and flying cougars. After analyzing it, she realized that even the most otherworldly dreams still arise from the dreamer’s life and emotions. Dreams that feel like a fantasy can still help you look deeper into yourself to find your true feelings and strengths.

The Dream

I was visiting acquaintances at a house in the country. In the dark of night, we went onto the veranda and saw a massive UFO, all lit up. It was going down fast, about to crash. It stopped at the last minute and reversed toward us, then shifted upright into a giant walking robot.

The next day I was on the veranda with a friend from Peru, and her husband was somewhere behind me. I saw a massive cougar go flying by, with three babies flying behind it. Then three more babies that were rainbow colored, and the mom turned and saw me and made six scratches on my back.

The Discussion

I commented, “In this dream you are observing a series of fantastical scenes. Please describe how you feel in the dream during these scenes. For example, the appearance of the UFO?”

Carly said, “I felt amazed and shocked when I saw the UFO. I was scared for my life and for Earth. When it switched to a robot, I still felt very scared and worried. I wanted to run.”

“How about the veranda? Any feelings about the man standing behind you?”

Carly answered, “I felt calm and comfortable at the veranda. I was just aware of him behind me. When I saw the cougar, I felt joy and amazement, that became excitement and awe when I saw the babies. Getting the scratches, I felt very calm and determined.”

I offered, “The feelings and the dream scenes involve change or transformation, like the UFO transforming to a huge robot. Is there a recent situation in your life where you observed change?”

Carly clicked immediately. “My dad is dying of cancer. He was doing better, but I just saw him and he’s taken a turn for the worse. He’s had a huge weight loss and looks completely shrunken. He is also not very coherent, and was talking about committing suicide. What is also so out of character for him, is that he was very abusive. All of that has me shocked, scared and worried for sure. 

“Also, I had a roommate until about three months ago. When the virus hit, she invited a bunch of friends to our apartment. It turned into a party with zero distancing. I was amazed that she would do that, and it made me scared and wanting to run.

“We had a huge fight and while at first it appeared like I would move out, I did something completely out of character and spoke up for myself. Since it was my place to begin with, I asked her to leave. 

“I spent almost three months looking for a new roommate, but now I’ve decided to move out on my own.  I’ve had to keep my feelings very contained. For the moment I’m housesitting, and after, I have a three-week sublet.

“So altogether, there’s been a stream of events that have me very surprised, shocked, scared and worried about how all this is going to turn out.”

Turning to one of the symbols in the dream, I asked, “What comes to your mind about a cougar?”

“This was a giant, flying cougar,” she responded. “They are usually out at night, mostly in the woods, and they don’t let you see them.” 

I remarked, “I like how after all of your feelings in the dream, you finish by saying you feel very calm and determined.” 

“Yes,” Carly agreed. “I’m focused on keeping my emotions contained while I take care of business. I must be like that cougar, for the moment, wanting to keep to myself.”

What We Can Learn

This is a story of transformation and all the anxiety and fear that comes with it: 

  • Seeing her father transformed in such a short time
  • Adapting to a parent’s impending death
  • Speaking up for herself to her roommate
  • Looking for a place to live alone

Yet Carly’s emotions follow a clear progression throughout the dream. She starts by feeling scared and wanting to run. Then she calms down, and afterwards feels joy and amazement. Finally, she feels “calm and determined” even while being attacked.

I like how the scratches from the cougar don’t hurt. In fact, they make the dreamer feel calm and determined! So, in waking life she doesn’t let the “cat fight” with her roommate stop her from accomplishing what she needs to do. This dream helps Carly recognize and draw on her emotional strength, feeling calm and confident about her ability to handle her difficult circumstances. 

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