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Dream Analysis - Part 2: Applying Dream Analysis
demonstrating the dream analysis process on one of my own dreams
In part one of this series I provided the ten core concepts for interpreting dreams. In this piece I will demonstrate by providing a detailed account of a dream I had recently and my analysis of it using the principles.
Note that this is only about half of what I recorded in my original voice memo and the analysis too could be dozens of paragraphs longer. Literally every sentence could have an entire page written about “Why did it choose X and not Y?” (why an auditorium? Why don’t I see any family members? Why did I leave without hesitation or remorse? Why did I sneak off instead of say I was leaving? Why was my wife so oblivious to my leaving? etc) But this should be more than sufficient to give you the gist of the process.
Let’s dive in.
I am at some kind of get together with my wife and son (infant). I intuitively know it is a “family” get together though don’t recall seeing anyone visibly. It is some kind of very big event inside a large auditorium. Right after it starts however, I immediately sneak off outside. I think at the time “there’s enough people there that my wife will assume I am off mingling with others at the party so I am off the hook”.
I walk around outside the auditorium in what is a giant asphalt lot like that of a school, enjoying the peace of the night.
Soon I come upon a group of people and the lot is now a carnival. In this group are two guys from my middle and high school, MZ and SK. They and their group are all plastered drunk and MZ is “playfully” verbally abusing SK. You know in that alpha-bullying way where there is real malice or at least this kind of narcissistic power play behind his words, and it’s secretly really hurtful to SK, but where everyone is laughing about it either pretending to not notice or legitimately too oblivious to. I don’t recall the actual words but something akin to how SK should kill himself and he’s a worthless human being etc etc.
I am quickly absorbed into the group and then we are in another scene. It’s still in the same physical location but now it’s a high-rise building and we are in a business suite high above. I find that MZ and SK are cofounders of a company—MZ the macho, charismatic, face-of-the-company ENTJ CEO and SK his diligent, dutiful second-in-command ISTJ—and the rest of the group are either cofounders or early employees.
And I find out what the bullying thing was all about: SK has made a huge mistake that cost them some really important investment.
While the mistake has huge impacts, it is also minor and silly. They are trying to secure some kind of funding or grant or something (It was clear in the dream but I forget now) however it has very strict rules and one of them is that no one can get injured in the project.
There was CCTV footage of SK falling over (very minorly) while working on a car which, were it to be found out, would have lost them funding. He then went to erase the CCTV footage but in his anxiety and haste failed to erase all the logs and other meta data related. So the foundation now finds out not only that the incident happened but that they tried to cover it up. Thus, the team lose the funding.
SK is so distraught about this and cannot forgive himself, and MZ is furious with him (or at least takes sadistic pleasure in making SK feel ashamed even if MZ knows they can always get more funding). I am consoling and coaching SK a bit about it and enjoying the process. MZ is meanwhile in his office with a bunch of cameras, studio lights, and people filming him, and he is putting on some big fancy show about their company, acting as if everything is going perfectly. I thought the façade of it all was kind of interesting—all the games and stories and show boating that goes into startups—but ultimately felt sad about it.
Now let’s apply our principles. Starting with the most important things usually helps.
Who are MZ and SK?
MZ: When I think of MZ what is the first things that comes to mind? MZ is someone part of me envies. I haven’t really talked to him since high school but we are mutuals on social media and I see that he is a successful entrepreneur running a small company. I haven’t checked on really any of my high school friends, but he is the most successful I know of, having “made it” into the upper class. He is “living the entrepreneur dream” with big fancy parties, fancy cars, lots of arm candy, goes to Vegas with bimbos, etc.
As mentioned in past journal posts, a part of me has always wished I was an entrepreneur rather than whatever weird thing it is that I am. I envy those who have a drive toward external novelty and risk (to temper internal order and boredom) rather than a drive for external order and stability (to temper an internal chaos or overthinking).
SK: What is the first thing I think of when I think of SK? SK I’ve known since the first grade but haven’t heard from or checked in on since high school. Since elementary school though he was a “cool kid who was good at everything”. Not like in a snarky, arrogant “alpha” way—he was more reserved and kind—but just always got A’s, always did the homework, always liked by the teachers, was really good at soccer, was popular and cool, and just knew and did all the right things to be the “perfect kid”. I am really thinking hard here to recall these memories (but, per the principles and as you’ll see soon, this is exactly why the dream chose him) but I vaguely recall that I always felt in competition with him. We were the “smart kids”, who would always go back and forth with getting the highest grades on the tests (though I never did the homework and was only average levels of popular and cool).
The lot and school: is not any one specific school from my childhood but an amalgamation of many; just a conceptual stand-in for what school lots mean to me. My elementary school had a giant lot in the center with all the buildings around it like in the dream. Those “portables” with the ramps up to them and the hand rails. These were all over the dream lot. But it is clear by the ambiguity that the dream finds the concept equally as important as the primary school it most closely resembles. So what do school lots mean to me in general? Well I have been to dozens of schools for skating. For several years we went to pretty much a new school every weekend looking for cool new stuff to skate. The significance of school lots in relation to the problem the dream is seeking to address could get an entire piece on its own, but just know that the emotional connection to school lots and the paths those go down is basically a stand-in for my early teenage years and all that entailed.
The carnival: What’s the first thing I think of when I think of carnival? The local fair. What is my first association with the local fair? Late teenage years. I have so many powerful memories with this fair. It was a core attraction for most of my childhood (lived in the same county since I was three years old and had gone to this fair easily twenty times through my childhood and adolescence). My most powerful memory is the time I went to the fair with my at-the-time girlfriend and some other people, one of whom was a dude she later slept with while we were “on a break”. My second association is just how related the fair is to my relationship with women. At least half a dozen women I was into in my teens have some event where in we went to the fair, took drugs, and hooked up.
Wife and family events: I really like my wife and son. But I don’t really like “family” as a concept. Extended family, big family gatherings, big parties and get togethers, have always been obligations to me I’d prefer to avoid. I’ve always wanted to be off causing mischief or tinkering with things or having deep conversations digging into people’s souls or life passions or philosophy. Not “playing the game” where you buy people gifts they don’t want, or ask them about superficial things neither of you care about because “that’s what you do”, etc.
A few months ago [from the time of originally writing this], I finally got my wife to criticize me for one of the first times in our relationship (I had to rip it out of her, she is the world’s nicest person) and one of the things she said was that she was sad I didn’t like spending more time doing family stuff and going to family events. This has been in the back of my mind since then which is clearly why the dream selected it.
So what is the dream trying to tell me?
I think the most important thing it’s trying to tell me is that the “awesome entrepreneur life” I envy isn’t as cool as I think it is. Sure, when you cherry pick the winners and ignore that most end up as losers, it can seem awesome. But that ignores all the luck involved. Doesn’t matter how smart or hardworking you are or how great your idea is, if you aren’t at the right place at the right time around the right people you will achieve nothing.
And to increase your odds requires significant adherence to a bunch of dumb social norms (dream illustrating this with CCTV cameras everywhere, no one can fall over, etc) and manipulation through these kind of sleazy persuasion games.
The job of the founder in Silicon Valley is basically to lie to VC’s and tell them what they want to hear, be a master storyteller and persuader long enough for you to figure out how to actually make a product people want to use, and to make sure to market yourself as a strict adherent of whatever weird cultural sacred cow is in vogue at the time (currently DEI type stuff) despite that you don’t actually care.
Actually authentic people don’t survive long in Silicon Valley. Only people who can seem authentic while still perfectly dancing to the music of the ever changing “correct” norms. Well and people who can code of course.
Entrepreneurs also have no concrete tie to reality (most are Ne dominant or Te dominant). They live in a perpetual world of fantasy, changing who they are and what they value to improve their ability to “sell”. And thus they are just as much “enslaved” to their role as I am to mine. If they had any time for self awareness (or, more precisely, felt there was any value in making time for it), they’d probably be as dissatisfied with their “slavery” to their “role” as I am with mine.
My frustration is not a byproduct of the role I am forsaken to but simply my awareness of my position. If I were willing to be less self aware, to deceive myself more, I could probably be an entrepreneur or any of the other things parts of me envy. But one of the things the carnival represents for me is deception. Both the deception of a happy functional childhood as well as the deception of the first time a woman I loved cheated on me. And why did the carnival turn into a high rise building of some fancy startup? Because they both require deception. I thought I was escaping the deception of the neurotic creative druggie world of my teens by moving into the business entrepreneur world of my twenties. But I wasn’t. MZ acting like he has some amazing life on camera meanwhile berating and abusing his best friend and drinking himself half to death demonstrates this. It’s all a façade. The same level of deception, just different temperaments and circumstances.
The sadness comes from realizing there is no true home for someone like me in the business world nor the startup world. I spent five years in the former and two in the latter. And there is no room for authenticity in either. Only utility.
In the former, the utility is in how well you can climb the ladder and delegate your work and say the right fake words to appease higher ups to get raises and promotions and perks. In the latter it’s all about how you can manipulate the truth to sell to VCs, and how you can hook into people’s limbic brains to addict them to something they don’t need, how you can portray yourself as this “entrepreneur living their dream” when you’re actually mostly depressed and addicted to stimulants.
Someone like me and with my skills can be useful in small and niche ways in both of these. Enough to achieve at least median results despite being a total fish out of a water. For the business world: I am naturally gifted at creating robust systems and processes that prevent error and reduce cognitive energy for employees; I can turn any complex process into something a monkey can do. For the startup world: I can figure out pretty much anything with a little time, and can ask interesting questions no one else will think of which are conducive to the creative process, and help people to optimize their motivation and cognitive energy to focus on the most important tasks.
But these are only a small part of me. And all of the rest of me gets in the way. Only a few times over those seven years did anyone ever say the quiet part out loud to me. They obviously said it more tactfully, but the gist was“authenticity is antithetical to power. And if you’re going to to put authenticity above effectiveness, you’re not only not helping me, you’re getting in my way.” In retrospect, this should have been obvious. But I didn’t want to know it.
Further, the dream examines what happens to people like SK. Someone who I envied when I was younger, who now, in his perfect ability to utilize the rules, is now a slave to some asshole. What comes of these perfectionists who are so prim and proper, always doing the right thing to get their cookie, leveraging their intelligence and attentiveness for superficial acceptance while crushing their inconvenience and darkness? Well they either become the tools the predators rely on or they become the predators themselves. They too are a “slave”. Sure they may seem cool and popular, but they have no real power or freedom. And I hadn’t realized how suffocating both these positions I envied truly were until I examined this dream.
Another angle I just realized is that the dream is actually walking through my life. When I think of an auditorium I first think of one of my oldest memories as a child. I was at this auditorium and jumped off some set of stairs and sprained my ankle. But rather than go find my mom and get help, I just crawled under the stairs and cried alone until someone found me because I was ashamed and embarrassed and didn’t want to bother my mom with my issues (she was a single mom when I was 6-10 and I learned very early on to try and be a good little boy who was as convenient as possible so that I did not cause her anxiety or pain).
The dream starts me in this auditorium where I see no family and they don’t see me (descriptive of my childhood; my mom couldn’t “see” nor appreciate who I truly was and my dad was never around). I then leave the childhood auditorium to to adolescence and they are all oblivious to it, thinking I’m off just doing normal things. I am alone but at peace. Then the carnival, the post-puberty teenage years come, and I am introduced to dysfunction and drugs and mischief all the rest. Then that transforms into the business world. And then that ends with me leaving it because I was disillusioned with it being no different than the neurotic carnival I grew up in.
So what is the dream trying to resolve? Well I can’t be sure what it’s “trying” to resolve but I can be sure what it has resolved (or at least made significant progress on). It has given me perspective. It has shown me that I truly am in the best place for me. It has given me the experience of what these other lives would be like without having to go out and actually live them. And from it I have realized that everyone is a slave to something. Slavery is unavoidable. And if I have to be a slave, I’d rather be a slave right here, doing what I am doing in the way that I am doing it. As someone always asking “what if?”, always wondering if the grass is greener over there, always having to go out and do it and map everything to find out whether it is the case, this is a strong reminder that my intuition is smarter than I think and that I lost interest in these other paths for a good reason.
Ultimately, if I must exist, there is nowhere I’d rather exist than right here.
I didn’t even go into the arc related to my wife and family—which could be another thousand words—but this piece isn’t about exposing all my deepest darkest insecurities, just enough of them to teach you how you can use this process to confront yours.
So hopefully you found this analysis insightful, interesting, and a good demonstration of the principles. If you’d like to review more analyses here, here, and here are a few from the FDR archives (where I originally learned), and there are a bunch more of them here.