The UX of Dreams

How does one USE a dream?  I have alot of dreams and I think of it this way:

A dream is your mind’s way of telling you something you don’t want to think about.

I used to have a dream about being chased; always in a different place, like Yankee Stadium, the subway, an office building, the woods, whatever.  It was always a different place.  I was being chased by a menace that I couldn’t see, but I knew the danger was there.  The dream always went the same.  I would do all these great moves, twisting and turning through doorways and passageways in my attempt to “lose” my pursuer.  No one could keep up with my slick evasive maneuvers, but somehow the menace was still there.

I was scared in the dream, but mostly I thought, “I can do this, I can get away, I can lose him!”  Eventually, I would wake up.  No closure at all.  This dream would be my primary dream for years.  Until finally, I came up with my idea: “My brain is trying to tell me something!”

This is where it got interesting.  I thought, “Hmm, what is my brain telling me?”  I let it noodle in my mind for a few days and then it hit me.  It was my fear of failure chasing me.  No matter what cool thing I did, I was always afraid of failure.  I did all these things that I was proud of, but they did nothing to allay my fear of failure.

Since that day, I have never, ever had the chase dream.

Recently, I had another set of bad dreams.  I had killed someone in defense and then felt an awful sense of remorse, panic and guilt.  It really bothered me, so I did the same exercise.  “What is my mind telling me?”

At work, the company is growing to a level at which I had never experienced.  I hated the slow bureaucracy of Intuit and have always loved creative energy and speed of small start-up companies.  Our success is growing the team and I am getting scared about how the company will grow.  Will we keep our edge and creativity or turn into any other “regular” company?

My dream is telling me that I am feeling defensive and nervous about this, but I shouldn’t “kill” the relationship.  I would feel terrible if I did.  My dream is warning me against sabotaging my future.

Be open to your dreams.  You have untapped wisdom.  Your mind is trying to tell you something.  You just have to figure out what it is saying.  One thing that helps is to talk to other people about it.  Explain the dream to them.  Get their feedback.

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