By doing Steps 1 and 2 of the D3 dream interpretation process, you have the information you need to connect the dots. Everything in a dream interrelates symbolically and as part of the story. It all fits together to form a big picture that expresses the dream’s meaning.

Example #1 is a dream analyzed in detail in the lesson on context. It’s a dream about a woman attacked by a skinless creature. Below I summarize.

A woman dreams about folding laundry in her home when a scary, skinless creature comes at her with a knife. They battle and end up outside in the street. A city bus runs over the creature, and she’s detained for it.

It’s a story about her life. She’s embroiled in a lawsuit with a former employer and recently found out that her former manager is spreading rumors about her, and it’s preventing her from getting another job.

Every detail fits together to tell the story. The symbolism is defined through the interconnections: folding laundry, the skinless creature, the knife, the battle, the city bus, being detained. Understood in the context of the dreamer’s life, these details paint a picture. Alone, they’re harder to pin down.

We call this process “connect the dots.” Or think of it as putting together a puzzle. When the dots connect and the pieces fit, the meaning of the dream becomes clear. The dots form a picture, and within that picture they cross-reference and interrelate—small pictures within the big one.

For example, the skinless creature symbolizes how the woman in the above dream feels raw and wounded by the situation. The battle with the creature is a dramatization of her legal battle with her former employer. And the knife symbolizes the close and personal nature of that battle.

Example 2: A man dreams about battling a hugely overweight character in a home improvement store. The home improvement store setting is understood as symbolizing his efforts to improve his body. The overweight character is understood as representing the dreamer. And the action is the battle with himself over dieting. The three details connect nicely, forming smaller pictures within the big picture of the dream.

The dots constellate around a central idea or subject. Some adhere closely to the center, while others are outlying details of the story.

Carl Jung said that a dream in its entirety tells a story, and if a dot doesn’t connect, maybe the interpretation is off-track, or something important is missed, such as the dream’s resolution. Dreams don’t leave loose change.

Connect the dots of a dream to understand its meaning
The central idea of a dream is its center of gravity

Connect the dots: an example dream

To really show you how the details of a dream all interrelate, let’s walk through the dream below. It’s rich with detail and personal meaning for the dreamer. The description is abbreviated.

A young adult man dreams that his grandfather drives him to his new home. He climbs a ladder to get to the house. Inside, he sees family and friends but avoids them, preferring to look around on his own. They all leave and he sits down by the front door, relieved to finally be alone in his new home. The doorbell rings, and no one is there when he opens the door. He sits down and the doorbell rings again. He sees an indistinct white figure outside that disappears when he answers the door. The action repeats till he’s so frustrated he could punch someone.

This dream is packed with symbols and they all connect to tell a story. Begin with the new home. The guy who had the dream is not actually moving anywhere nor does he plan to, so the new home must be symbolism. It’s a discrepancy with reality explained below.

A ladder is popularly used in the metaphor “climb the ladder,” but a ladder fits only one person at a time. It implies the idea “going solo” and that possibility for symbolism seems like a better fit, especially once you know what moving into a house means in this dream.

Family and friends are in the dream, and the key detail is he avoids them. Connect that dot with the observation about the ladder: One person at a time.

Then there’s the disappearing white figure at the front door. The front door is the boundary between public and private life. Outside is your public life; inside is your private life. Notice the dreamer’s reaction at being pestered. Also notice that the figure is indistinct, not a specific person or type of person. They’re clues. How do they all fit together to tell a story?

First, identify the story elements and narrative components (Step 1). Then interpret the symbolism and analyze the story (Step 2). I did that for you, so we’re ready to connect the dots.

  1. A new home
  2. A ladder
  3. Avoid people
  4. Front door
  5. Pestered by an indistinct figure

Now take a guess at what it means without knowing any context about the dreamer other than he’s male. If you said the dream is about privacy and the dreamer is a reclusive person moving into a new phase of life symbolized as moving into a new home, where he can keep people out if he wants to, you’d be correct and damn good at dream interpretation.

Notice how the front door connects in the story with the white figure and his angry reaction to being pestered by it. The dots connect. Otherwise, the figure could represent anything. But when understood as related to privacy, the meaning is clear. He’s annoyed by intrusions into his life. Or more specifically, by being unable to control or prevent those intrusions, even when they involve loved ones and friends.

We know this for sure because:

The clincher is the last dot:

  • 6. His grandfather.

The dreamer associates his grandfather with “reclusive” and “private.”

His grandfather taking him to his new home makes sense once you understand what it symbolizes. The dreamer is becoming more like his grandfather. They prefer to be alone and able to protect their privacy.

The dots all fit together in context.

Next lesson

At this stage of D3, if all goes well, the meaning and message of a dream really start to stand out. Everything fits together in contex. And finally, you reflect on your life and find what the dream says about it.

Explore further

  • Connect the dots: a dream about kittens convinces the dreamer to keep her baby rather than abort it.
  • A very detailed dream with many dots that connect.