There are few things more mysterious than our own dreams.
Scientists have learned a lot over the years about what's happening in our brains, physically, while we dream. But the actual meaning behind those subconscious adventures — and what role they can play in our emotional lives — is much less clear. Carl Jung, the founder of the school of analytical psychology, is responsible for perhaps the most famous theory about our dreams: that they reflect unconscious imbalances we might be struggling with.
Whether you subscribe to this idea or not, it's hard not to wonder if there might be something to the crazy things your brain comes up with while you're sleeping. So, we reached out to Anne Cutler, a licensed psychoanalyst with expertise in dream interpretation, to get her take on some common dream types.
"Everyone has unique dreams to themselves, in their own inner psyche and conflicts," Cutler says. "What we’ll do in our dreams is we’ll start with something that is up-front in our mind, in the days leading up to the dream, and we’ll make connections about what’s going on in our current life, and what went on in our history."
Ahead, Cutler shares four steps to help you decode your dreams — plus some common recurring clues that might prompt you to see a dream in a new way.