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 both sharing and self-study:
1. Record or 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 story a title.
2. Consider your feelings, inside the dream and especially on waking. Your first feelings around a dream are a quick and usually reliable guide to its relative importance, urgency and quality (e.g. positive/negative, literal/symbolic).
3. Always run a reality check by asking: 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.
4. 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. If we can only encourage more people to follow this vitally important etiquette for dream-sharing, we'll create a safe space for many people to share dreams and work with them in everyday situations. Most important, we will help each other to become authors of meaning for our own dreams, and our own lives.
5. Try to go back inside the dream and recover more information. A dream fully remembered is often its own interpretation. You may find dream reentry much easier than you thought when you wake up to the fact that a dream is also a place; because you have been to that place, you can find your way there again.
6. 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.
7. Always do something with the dream! Dreams require action. 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; The Three "Only" Things and Active Dreaming are good places to jump in.
Art: René Magritte, Belgian, La légende des siècles (1952).