You are the final authority on your dreams, and you should never give the power of your dreams away by handing them over to other people to interpret. Yes, our dreams can be confusing and opaque, and we gain greatly from other people's insights, especially when those other people are "frequent fliers" who work closely with their own dreams and have developed a fine intuition about what may be going on in dreaming. So it's okay to ask for help. More than that, we often need help because we are too close to our own issues, or too inhibited by self-limiting to see what may be obvious to a complete outsider.
However, we need to learn some simple rules about how to share and comment on dreams. I suggest the following guidelines for starters:
* Tell the dream as clearly and exactly as possible. Dreams are real experiences, and the meaning of the dream is often inside the dream experience itself. Give your dream report a title.
* Consider your feelings, inside the dream and on waking. Your first feelings after a dream are a quick and usually reliable guide to the importance, urgency and quality (e.g. positive/negative) of the dream.
* Always ask: Is it remotely possible the events in this dream could be played out in waking life? I have never seen more time wasted in dream analysis -- and more life-supporting messages lost -- than when we fail to recognize that our dreams are constantly rehearsing us for challenges that lie around the corner. In our dreams, we are all psychic.
* If you are going to comment on someone else's dream, always begin by saying (in these words or similar words), "If this were my dream, I would think about..." This way, you are not leaning on other people and presuming to tell them the meaning of their dreams or their lives. When we follow this vitally important etiquette, we create a safe space to share dreams and life stories in everyday contexts - at the breakfast table, at work, in the family, in school.
* Try to go back inside the dream and recover more information. A dream fully remembered is often its own interpretation.
* Try to come up with a one-liner to summarize what happens in the dream (or encourage the dreamer to do that). This will often turn out to be a personal dream motto that will orient you towards appropriate action -- to act on the dream guidance and honor the dream.
* Always do something with the dream! We need to do far more than interpret dreams;we need to bring their energy and insight into manifestation in waking life.
The simple guidelines above are central to my Active Dreaming approach. You can learn more about fun, everyday techniques for working and playing with dreams and using them as portals for adventure and healing in a larger reality in my books; ConsciousDreaming, The Three "Only" Things and Active Dreaming are good places to jump in.
Graphic by French artist and dream teacher Véronique Barek-Deligny