How To Interpret A Dream

The I Am and I Need Formula

At first glance it may seem impossible to extract the hidden meaning of a dream. Much of the difficulty stems from the fact that the dreamer is close to the people and places in the dream and therefore overlooks the symbolic meanings. This formula was devised to overcome this.

  1. Mark a page as indicated below and write out your dream as fully as possible. Review the article Tips for Recording Your Dreams if necessary.

How to Interpret a Dream


  1. Get two different colored pens. With one pen underline every negative word or phrase (A sample list of phrases is given in the column on the right) in the dream which indicates limitation, disrespect, containment, avoidance or damage. Write each of these words or phrases under the I AM column. With the other pen underline every positive word or phrase and write them under the column I NEED. You are almost ready to interpret your dream. See following example.

How to Interpret a Dream

  1. Determine the subject matter of the dream from the location. Click here for a list of locations and their meanings. If you have trouble deciding on the subject matter just remember that the subject matter is always you!

    The location is circled in the previous example and this tells us the subject matter is the dreamer's digestive system.

  2. Now apply the keywords to yourself in relation to the subject matter of the dream as indicated by the location. What aspect of your functioning is “dead”, “cold”, “broken”, etc.? The I AM column tells you how you feel or react to the subject matter of the dream. The I NEED column tells you what you must do to correct the problem

    In our example dream we can now interpret the text in the columns as follows.


  • very packed = When it comes to my digestive system I am very packed. This translates to food is staying in my body too long.
  • extremely slow = When it comes to my digestive system I am extremely slow. This translates to my digestive system is extremely slow.
  • dirty = When it comes to my digestive system I am dirty. This translates to my digestive system is dirty. (literally rotting food is staying in my digestive system too long).
  • very annoyed = I am angry when it comes to my digestive system. This links the emotion anger to the problem. Explained later.


  • waiting = I need to wait. Translates to I need to learn to wait or learn patience.
  • quickly remove = When it comes to my digestive system I need to quickly remove [food]. Translates to I need to do something to speed up my digestive system.
  1. Now look for keywords indicating negative emotion: eg. Afraid, terrified, hate, resent, black/white, jealous, greedy, insecure, alone, beneath me, no support, selfish, etc.. By finding these words and linking them to the previous keywords you can separate cause from effect in dreams.

    In our sample dream we find the words very annoyed. From this we can say that the dreamers digestive problems are caused by her anger. Literally her anger is eating her. We can take the interpretation further by looking at the other symbols in the dream. The dreamer only mentions men in the dream. This implies that her anger is aimed at her father (the first male influence in her life). We would also question to see if she has also projected this anger onto her husband. The waiter is a male healing agent and his role in the dream is to heal the dreamer's digestive system. The waiter being male tells us again that the problem stems from the dreamer's male aspect.

    Another focus of the dream is that the dreamer is being made wait. This is important and gives us the antidote to anger. Literally the dreamer is being asked to develop patience (learn to wait).

  2. Use your intuition to develop the interpretation further. Go with your feelings but stay focused on the subject matter and symbols in the dream.

Sample List of Keywords and Phrases

Arid, avoid, apart, attack, alcohol, alien, back away from, baggage, bag, blind, blocked, bottle, box, broken, burdened, burnt out, bury, brick, blood stained, beat, cage, cap, cement, chaos, closed, closet, cold, conceal, confused, control, cork, corner, cube, curtains, cut, choked, crash helmet, crossed, canal, cobbled, cannot give, cannot share, dark, dead, deaf, deformed, deny, delayed, destroy, dilapidated, dingy, dim, dirty, disorganized, divide, dried, drunk, dull, dumb, dusty, drug, drink (alcohol), dwarf, drunk, drab, drop, end, envelope, eject, escape, fall, fight, frozen, foreign, four, frail, flat, grey, gloomy, grubby, grotesque, handicapped, hard, hit, holding on, hopeless, heavy, ignore, injured, invisible, island, isolated, insulated, killed, lame, laugh at, lazy, lie down, locked, lost, late, margin, missing, mutated, mask, mouse, narrow, neglected, obstructed, old-fashioned, on the fence, packed, parked, plastic, picket, polluted, poor, prison, pig, pale, poison, plateau, rat, rectangular, refuse, regimented, resist, reject, reluctant, reverse, rigid, run away, rusty, separate, scattered, shelter, shuttered, sick, sit, sneer, square, squeezed, stall, stained, starved, steer, stifled, stop, straight, strangled, stripe, stuck, stunted, smothered, short, short cut, surround, stolen, throw, tied, trapped, T-shirt, twisted, U-turn, unbalanced, uneven, unlit, unpaid, unready, uniform, unwell, wall, wasted, weak, wheelchair, withered, will not leave, will not move, worm.


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