Resolution is often the most difficult part of a dream to identify and interpret. It’s either hidden somewhere in the dream story, or the dream leaves it up to you to figure out. The resolution is the most important part of a dream. Otherwise, interpreting your dreams is like a game show with no prize, a parlor game. The resolution is how you really benefit from a dream.
Some dreams suggest a resolution in the dream-story. Sometimes it’s up to you to figure out.
One of the most important benefits of dreams is they give you another way of looking at yourself and your life. They offer perspective by breaking down complex personal situations into stories. Humans learn better by being told stories rather than lectured to or bombarded with facts or opinions. Like when Jesus replied with parables rather than lectures when asked complex questions. Stories open your mind. They make you engage and follow along. Lectures close the mind and make you tune out.
Resolution gives you the opportunity to live your dreams. To me, it means paying attention to dream and making them an active part of daily life by taking to heart their messages and applying what is learned.
If a dream makes a suggestion, run with it.
If it raises a question, answer it.
If it points out a problem, solve it.
Your dreams are like the best coach that ever lived. This coach has known you all your life, has been around for all the ups and downs, knows all of your personal details and what makes you tick. Your dream coach is there to reflect your life back to you and show where you can grow, where you can realize your potential, where and how you can improve, how you can fulfill your wishes and desires, how you can get closer to your goals and ambitions, what is hindering you and why. Nothing can be hidden from this coach. It knows everything, including when you are paying attention and when you are not.
Resolution comes into play with your dream coach because it gives you the opportunity to apply what it teaches you. Your dream coach is very patient and understanding, but keep in mind there is a limit to it. If you think you know it all, there’s no point in trying to tell you otherwise. If you break promises to yourself, your coach knows better than to set you up for more disappointment. If you are too busy right now to listen, coach can wait. If you fail to follow through, a point will come when coach stops trying.
But if you do follow through, if you listen, if you apply what you learn, your dream coach will take special interest. You become a star player. You live your dreams and make them come true in the realest sense.
Throughout this site are examples of how dreams use stories to help understand yourself and your life. In this section we will drill down and explore the subject directly, but keep in mind that resolution is part of every dream, no matter if the resolution is presented in the dream-story, or it’s up to you to figure out. For now, let’s take a closer look at what resolution is and how dreams offer it.
Examples of Dream Resolution
Dreams raise issues, ask questions, illustrate problems, show conflicts. What resolves them?
We’ll start with a general example based on a common dream theme, then go into detail. What is the resolution if you dream about being chased?
Chased in a Dream
Dreams about being chased usually relate to the general idea of something pursuing you. It’s a physical representation of a personal situation. It could be someone in particular pursuing you, or it could be some thing pursuing you.
Dreams have many ways to symbolize either scenario. The thing pursuing you in a dream could symbolize a person, or the person pursuing you could symbolize a thing, like a situation or feeling. To analyze a dream scenario about being chased, look for clues in other parts of the dream like the settings, characters, symbols, actions, and your reactions.
Resolution: Identify what is really pursuing you. Make a decision on what you want to do about it.
For example, someone chasing with a bouquet of flowers might symbolize a romantic interest. If you react by playing hide ‘n seek, it might mean you are being coy with the person. The resolution is to make a decision on whether you are interested in a relationship with that person. If you scream at the person or react violently, it probably means that their interest is unwelcome and you should make that clear.
Keep in mind that the person from your life pursuing you romantically might be represented in the dream by a surrogate character.
Or let’s say that a hideous monster chases you. The first step is to figure out what it symbolizes. Oftentimes dreams exaggerate to get your attention and illustrate the dynamics of a situation. You know that a monster isn’t really chasing you in your waking life, so it must be symbolism. Maybe it symbolizes a bully at school, or a supervisor or other authority figure making your life miserable. Maybe it’s a fear. Maybe it’s a bad marriage. Or maybe it’s an ambition you don’t think you can accomplish.
Once you identify the symbolism and how it connects with your life, the next step is to make a decision. Perhaps you are being chased because you won’t stick up for yourself, or can’t work up the courage to leave the job that’s making you miserable, or won’t face your fear, or can’t save a bad marriage, or can’t achieve an ambition.
On the other hand, maybe you aren’t really trying.
The dream itself might offer a resolution, or you might have to figure it out for yourself. For example, the flowers held by the person pursuing you are wilted. That’s a sign of dying interest. The dream is probably saying the prospects are bad. Now it’s up to you to communicate that to the person pursuing you romantically.
Sometimes a dream won’t offer a resolution until you become proactive. You have to do something about the situation or take steps that allow the dream to respond. Decide to turn around and face the thing chasing you, stop running, stand your ground, or at least find a safe place to hide. The dynamics of the situation have to change or you will continue to be pursued. Once you take action, the dream can respond.
For example, let’s say that you have a recurring dream about a monster chasing you. You can’t identify what it symbolizes. Night after night you are chased and it’s disturbing your sleep. Finally you get fed up and confront the monster. You scream at the top of your lungs, “STOP CHASING ME!!!” Then the monster shrinks down into a small child holding a blanket. You feel silly when you realize you’ve actually been running from a harmless child. Your action gives the dream an opportunity to respond. The response helps you identify the symbolism, and by identifying the symbolism you can find a resolution.
A small child holding a blanket can symbolize insecurity. So the question is, what are you insecure about?
You might realize you have been playing fast and loose with your money, and an overlooked part of yourself symbolized by the monster that turns into a child is afraid you’re going to make a big mistake that leads to getting evicted, or your car repossessed, or run out of money for food. The situation is, in a sense, a real monster, and behind the monster is the insecurity of your financial situation.
Resolution: better handle your finances.
The same imagery of being pursued and exposing insecurity can be used to represent a situation where you realize you want a romantic relationship but feel insecure about yourself. The desire has been pursuing you but you’ve been ignoring it, and anything ignored or repressed is going to be the subject of dreams, even nightmares. The resolution in such a case is to figure out the source of your insecurity and take steps to address it. If you are shy about your body, maybe you need to exercise. If you don’t think you have anything interesting to talk about, read up on a subject that is a good conversation starter. Wear fashionable clothes. Get a stylish haircut. Replace your glasses with contacts. Ask a smooth-talking friend to join you for a night out and observe how he or she approaches people. Address the roots of the insecurity.
More Common Dreams and Their Resolutions
Let’s think about three more common dream scenarios and possibilities for resolutions:
- Intruders around your house
- Something stolen
Intruders in your house can symbolize privacy issues, setting boundaries, or anything that’s intrusive. That includes external factors such as someone intruding into your life, or internal factors such as intrusive thoughts, feelings, or responsibilities.
The resolution is to think through the situation and take action. Give yourself more privacy. Set and enforce boundaries. Identify the intruders in your life and keep them at a comfortable distance.
For example, a woman dreams that an unwelcome stranger is at her front door and she realizes it’s not locked. In her waking life, she had recently been contacted by her father, a stranger in her life whom she had previously welcomed back and regretted it. The dream is sending a message that she doesn’t want to give him another chance. She had debated with herself whether to give him another chance, and the dream shows how she really feels.
The resolution is to keep him out of her life.
Murder in a dream can indicate something needs to change. You are frustrated or angry. You need to vent. A bad situation has gone on too long, or you are stuck in a place or situation in your life that you want to leave. Something is “killing you” in the figurative sense, such as in the phrase “the stress is killing me.”
The resolution is to make the needed changes, deal with your anger, find an outlet for your feelings and emotions, relieve the stress.
Something stolen from you can represent that an important part of your life is missing. Most likely whatever is stolen is not material or physical. The thing taken could be decision-making ability, freedom, independence, confidence, opportunity, or self-esteem. Or perhaps you feel taken advantage of or treated unfairly. Perhaps someone stole your heart, or something stole your confidence. The source might be an external factor, such as a person or situation, or an internal factor, something about you that is like a thief in the night.
The resolution is to identify what has been taken, or how you are being taken advantage of, and decide what to do about it.
Resolution: You Are Lost
A recently retired man had multiple dreams with the theme of being lost. He dreamed about being at work and going out to lunch, then being unable to find his way back. He’d dream about driving on the highway and being unable to find the off-ramp leading to his place of work. He dreamed about being unable to locate the building where he worked. The theme played out several different ways and he always woke up distressed.
The symbolism seemed pretty obvious to me. I suggested to the dreamer that he was searching for something to do with himself. Retirement created a big hole in his life that needed to be filled. The resolution for him is to find something to keep himself “occupied,” a word closely related to “occupation.”
Sometimes a resolution isn’t found or implied in one dream. It plays out in multiple dreams during the same night, or multiple nights.
For example, a female battling depression dreams that she struggles to walk in a blizzard, lost in it. The blizzard is a metaphor for depression. She comes upon a white horse and wants to hop on it, but a shady man pulls the horse’s reins so it turns away from her. The shady man is a side of herself that works against her from inside her mind.
We talked about the dream and identified the symbolism and how it relates to her life. A short time later she dreamed again about walking in a blizzard and coming upon the white horse. The same shady man was there stopping her from mounting the horse. This time though, she defied him, hopped on the horse and rode away on it. It symbolizes her decision to move forward with her life despite the depression. The horse symbolizes the internal resources she needed. Soon after the second dream the depression lifted and her personal sense of direction returned. She was no longer lost.
Now it’s your turn. Here is a list some common dream themes. You think of resolutions before I offer my suggestions.
- Fail a test
- Can’t reach a destination
- Arrive late
- Fall from a dangerous height
First, you need to know about the symbolism of these scenarios.
1. If you fail a test in a dream it can mean that in some way you feel like you aren’t measuring up. Life can test us in many ways other than academic. Of course, if you are in school and have a test coming up, and you’re worried you might fail that test, the connection between the dream and your life is pretty obvious. (However, dreaming under those circumstances about failing a test can symbolize something else.)
Resolution: Identify how you’re being tested, and prepare or improve. Learn what you need to learn. Stop procrastinating. Improve your knowledge, skill, or ability. Practice. Work at it.
Some people feel like a failure even when they succeed, so the resolution might be to ask yourself whose standards you’re trying to live up to, or why nothing is ever good enough.
For example, a high school football player dreams about being in a game and running the ball into the endzone, scoring a touchdown. As a celebration antic, he goes to dunk the ball through the goalpost, but the crossbar is too high. It symbolizes that his expectations are too high, like the crossbar. He lacks a sense of accomplishment or success. The resolution is to trace the source of his expectations and give himself some credit. After all, he scores a touchdown in the dream. It shows he is succeeding at what he sets out to do.
2. If you can’t reach a destination in a dream, ask yourself where you are trying to get to, keeping in mind that dreams give physical representations of personal situations. Destinations are often associated with goals or ambitions. They can be external goals and ambitions, such as getting promoted at work or starting a family, or internal goals and ambitions, such as losing weight or better managing your time.
Resolution: Identify your destination and either take steps to reach it, or decide on a new destination. If the situation is within your control you might just need a different approach or strategy. It might be a matter of time and continued effort. Or maybe you aren’t thinking realistically, or it’s time to shift gears and go a new direction.
3. Arriving late in a dream can express the feeling or sense that you are somehow behind in your life. An opportunity has passed you by, or you are chronically behind. Perhaps you have too much to handle and feel like you can’t give everything the attention it needs.
We create ideas about where we should in our lives by certain points. For example, graduated from college by age 22. Married by age 25. Starting a family or making a fortune before age 30. Well, what happens if you reach that age and the thing you expected hasn’t happened? The same idea can apply to any number of situations.
Resolution: Set realistic goals for where you want to be in your life and when you want to be there. Analyze your life for areas where you can make progress and where you might be overloaded. Ask yourself if there is a place in life you want to be and haven’t arrived yet.
4. Falling in a dream can express the idea of having no ground beneath your feet, nothing solid to stand on. It can mean a sudden change for the worse. The rug is pulled out from under you. You “take the fall” for a blunder, or “fall from grace.” It can symbolize a fallen state of being, living in a way that is detrimental. For example, “hitting bottom” follows after a fall.
Resolution: Firm up your situation. Find solid ground on which to build your life. Improve yourself. Fully process your feelings. Some situations are within your control, and some aren’t. And sometimes dreams warn rather than reflect. If a fall in a dream is a warning, you can prevent it. If the situation has already occurred or is beyond your control, you can make adjustments. You can learn, improve. You can do better next time. You can deal with it.
Sometimes dreams offer suggestions for resolutions. They answer questions, offer solutions, and point out areas for improvement. Sometimes they leave it up to you. Every fully formed dreamed has some sort of resolution, either in the dream itself, or implied through the situation in your life that is portrayed and the questions raised. Resolution is a tricky narrative component to identify and interpret, but it is also the most important narrative component if dreams are going to benefit your life.
Example Dreams and Resolutions
A female high school teacher dreams that she meets actor Steve Buscemi in a craft store. He is an employee and helps her look around. There is romantic chemistry between them, but she is conscious of the fact that she has a boyfriend in her waking life. At one point they kiss. She has feelings for him, which makes her conflicted. She leaves the scene and some other actions happen. Then she decides to call her boyfriend and ask him to meet for dinner. While en route to the restaurant she runs across Steve again, who tries to convince her to run away with him. She decides it’s a good idea for him to meet her boyfriend. She wakes up.
First I’ll interpret the dream, then point out the resolution it suggests. The dreamer is in the process of applying to MFA programs. She is excited about the prospect of returning to the school, but knows if she is accepted she will have to move and that could spell the end of her relationship with her boyfriend. The craft store symbolizes her desire to continue her education in art, and Steve Buscemi symbolizes her attraction to it. The feeling of attraction she has for him in the dream symbolizes her feelings about her art. The conflict she has about that attraction and her thoughts about her boyfriend are related to her conflict over leaving her boyfriend behind if she moves to go to school.
The resolution is offered when she decides it’s a good idea to introduce Buscemi to her boyfriend. It’s a suggestion to show her boyfriend why going back to school is so important to her. Make him aware how much of her identity is wrapped up in her art. Tell him she wouldn’t leave unless something very important drew her away. Perhaps it will create the sort of bond that can survive the time they would be apart. Or maybe it will convince him to “run away with her.”
Notice that the dreamer thinks of the resolution herself. She invented the dream scenario to give her a way of thinking through the situation, and after doing that she comes up with a solution. It might work, it might not.
Some dreams are themselves resolution. You reach a point when you are ready to put something behind you and move on, and have a powerful, emotional dream that catalyzes it for you. Like the next dream.
I broke up with my girlfriend a while ago and had a hard time letting go. I’ve been acting hurt and angry. Last night I dreamed I was in my car and my ex came up to the window. I told her to get in the passenger seat but instead she asked me to roll down the window. She said that I had to let go of her, and that I’ve moved on before from a breakup and can do it again. I woke up in the morning feeling like I can finally let go of her, and it’s the best I’ve felt in a long time.
The dream itself is the resolution. In it the dreamer realizes he can let go and move on.
I am at work and find a huge, hairy brown spider. I immediately feel fear and panic and desire to run. In the meantime, one of the senior techs in my lab who I have the upmost respect for, and a little bit of fear of, catches said spider and places it in a sort of container that magnifies it and makes it look even bigger. She tries to force on me, but I want nothing of it.
This dream dramatizes the dreamer’s fear of spiders and offers a resolution for it. Fears and phobias often result from making something bigger than it really is. The dream depicts it as the spider magnified in the container. Forcing the dreamer to confront the spider is a way of saying the dream is helping him confront his fear. The co-worker is used by the dream because she is someone from whom the dreamer can learn. He respects her. She is not the type to fear spiders.
The resolution is to confront his fear of spiders by using his co-worker as an example.
I am scheduled for two jobs at once and have to decide which one to go to. One of the jobs is my old high school job at a pizza place. The other job isn’t mentioned so I don’t know what it is, but I sense that it’s more important. I decide to call the pizza place and say sorry, can’t make it.
The person who had this dream has a dilemma. He is being pulled in different directions by competing responsibilities and projects. His dream about having two jobs and calling off of one of them is a way of saying he can’t finish everything on his plate and needs to prioritize. His high school job is referred to because it involved a lot of grunt work. It symbolizes his responsibilities around the house. The other job symbolizes a book he is writing, which is not technically a job but is still something at which he works hard. Lately the house responsibilities have eaten into his time to work on the book. His reaction in the dream to call off the one job expresses his desire to focus more on his book.
The resolution is make time to focus on writing the book.
I’m outside a building with many entrances. I’m near an entrance, a set of glass doors like the ones at work. A co-worker is with me. Across the inside of the building, about 20 feet away, is another set of glass doors. She talks about how it’s a good location to have fashion shows if a runway can be built to the other side. It’s very dark inside, and the floor isn’t really a floor, it’s water. Lurking in the water is a giant ass crocodile. My co-worker reaches out and pats the crocodile on the snout. I, however, know that the crocodile could bite at any moment. I go back outside and climb some metal steps that just appear out of nowhere and don’t seem to lead anywhere except up into the air.
The presence of the dreamer’s co-worker and the reference to a fashion show connects this dream with the dreamer’s work in fashion design. The set of glass doors is another clue that points the same direction. With that in mind, the symbolism of the crocodile can be deciphered. The crocodile symbolizes the dreamer’s supervisor. The giveaway is the co-worker’s action of patting the croc on the snout. It reflects how the co-worker deals with the same supervisor more nonchalantly than the dreamer. The dreamer has come to realize that the supervisor is more dangerous than she appears. It’s a danger that lurks below the surface, same the crocodile lurks below the water.
The resolution is found in the final scene. The metal steps that lead up to nowhere. At first glance this detail might appear to be random and meaningless, but it’s actually a suggestion for the dreamer to take steps to protect herself from the supervisor. Up on the steps she is safe from the croc.
Last night I was having a normal dream. Some kid from the grade above me back in high school is with me in my old town lifting up sewer grates to show me that there are tunnels under them. Suddenly I realize there is a Black Widow spider on me. No matter what I do I can’t get it off ’cause it crawls somewhere else or its webs stick on me. It never bit me though. But I feel uneasy and it makes me wake up.
All of the details of this dream tie together when you know that the Black Widow symbolizes the dreamer’s ex-girlfriend. She has been contacting the dreamer and he senses she is scheming to get back into his life. He has been trying to be rid of her, symbolized as trying to get the spider off him, but she is clever and weaves a web of intrigue.
The setting is his old town because it’s an old relationship. The old schoolmate is someone the dreamer perceives to be smart about relationships, symbolizing how the dreamer is wise to what is ex is up to. The sewer tunnels symbolize her secret intentions and underhanded ways. You could say she is trying to tunnel back into his life.
The resolution is the dreamer needs to trust his instincts and not fall for his ex’s schemes. The dream gives him a graphic way of seeing the situation that makes it very clear what he thinks of his ex and how he feels about her attempts to get back into his life.
I have these recurring dreams. I see black, and hear a man calmly dictating a story to me. I hardly remember these stories, but they are often bizarre or strange (but fascinatingly so). While he tells the story, faint but still clear imagery of the events in the story shows in my vision. At times, some sound will be mixed in, and it is often very realistic.
These recurring dreams are showing the dreamer that he has a real talent for narration. He’s a born storyteller. The resolution is to continue to develop that talent.
[Summary] I graduated from high school four years ago and dream I’m back at school. I ask the teacher a question and am irritated by the response. I work on an assignment with my peers and they tell me I won’t graduate. This enrages me and I toss some desks. I know it’s the guidance counselor’s fault. I go to his office but it’s empty.
This dream is about the dreamer feeling behind in his life and needing guidance. The adults in his life are not giving him the answers he needs, making him angry. The implication is the dreamer needs to figure out how to take the next steps in his life.
He resolved the conflict by joining the Navy. Six months later he emailed me to say he’d found his place in life and was happier than he’d ever been.
In a dream about saving a drowning baby, the resolution is to recover a sense of childlike wonder and enjoyment of life. The dreamer is becoming old and grizzled before his time.
A dream about two tornadoes shows the dreamer’s need to drop one of two writing projects, and also shows him why he hasn’t done it already.
The resolution of a dream isn’t always obvious, but it’s always important. The point of interpreting your dreams is to do something with the information.