analyze your dreams

Analyze your dreams

Last night I had a dream that woke me up with my heart racing. It wasn’t quite a nightmare but right on the verge. I’m going to walk you through how I process those types of things so you can analyze your dreams.


If you dream of pigs it means wealth and prosperity.

When there is a pig in your dream it means that someone is betraying you.

Water signifies an emotional state of mind.

If you dream about a river it probably means the course of your life is going to change.

Being about to interpret dreams with a google search is about as successful as diagnosing cancer on WebMD. We are all SO different and our minds are incredibly unique. So what really is happening when you dream? Well scientifically speaking dreams happen most during REM sleep and all parts of your brain are firing.

Why do we dream?

There’s a few theories out there about why we dream.

  1. Our dreams are our therapists helping us to sift through the emotions of the days.
  2. We are learning fight and flight skills while we dream. Training us for the worst case scenarios in life.
  3. Dreams fire up our creative brains and inspire us.
  4. Once our brains shut down for the day our dreams help us sift through the days memories and sort through complicating thoughts and feelings.

Regardless of what dreams are really for. I use my dreams that I remember for #4. So let’s get to it.

“You’re in the tiger habitat! GET OUT!”

In this particular dream I owned a zoo, I must have lived there too because as I was walking through the zoo I found my husband laying on a couch.

“What are you working on?” I asked.

“Just trying to decided which project to work on next.” He responded referencing a list in front of him.

“Well good luck!” I said happily as I continued on my rounds.

I heard a rumbling, creaking, and cracking noise down the path in front of me and looked up to see branches start falling from a huge hedge tree on the path. People were walking underneath and they seemed to notice too and scattered before I had time to yell, “Get out of the way!” A giant branch fell, partway on the path and partway on the fence of the tiger exhibit.

I’ll need to get the chainsaw to cut that up before the tigers notice. I thought to myself. I saw the tigers were sleeping away at the back of the exhibit and hadn’t noticed. Another branch started to fall but people were walking underneath it.

“Run!” I yelled as a lady and her two kids just barely missed the branch falling on their heads. Then I realized that 10-20 people including her had climbed over the 4ft tall chainlink fence of the tiger exhibit to help clean it up. How nice of them. They’re in the tiger exhibit. What idiot built that fence.

I grabbed for my radio. No radio. I couldn’t call for help. The tigers were awake. I saw the woman with the two kids, one she was holding and the other was standing nose-to-nose with a tiger, while a group of men approached the second tiger in the back. “Get out!!!! You’re in the tiger habitat! Pick her up and GET OUT!” I was standing at the edge of the fence and glanced down to my husband who was standing at the edge watching.

I woke up.

Analyze your dreams

When I first wake up sometimes I just think about what I would have or should have done in the dream.

I needed a fire extinguisher or a gun if I was going to go over the barrier. Should I have just jumped in there? Who the hell designed that exhibit. Why was no one listening to me. They all just looked at me with blank stares.

The next step to analyze your dreams is to start diving in to the emotions.

I felt fear in the pit of my stomach. Worry also shows up there. My muscles in my back, neck, and shoulders were tense from stress. I felt very angry, hot face, flush, and even light headed.

Then I work to identify the source of these emotions.

The source of my fear and worry were pretty easy. 10-12 people were about to get mauled. The stress is pretty easy too, I needed to save them, it was MY zoo, but why was I so angry? Was I angry at them for jumping the fence? Maybe I was angry that the fence was so short? Was I angry at the tigers? I don’t think so. My anger had two sources.

  1. I saw the problem and didn’t have enough help to solve it.
  2. In my dream, I was trying to tell other people about the problem and no one was listening to me.

Then I work to reframe the sources of those emotions and understand why they might be showing up in my dreams.

Sifting through the day’s memories

When you analyze your dreams you have to figure out what thoughts, memories, and emotions your brain might be sorting through.

Some simple thoughts and memories went in to my dream.

Tigers – In the morning we had talked as a group about why Rachel Garner’s research on big cat populations was important. (frankly I don’t think there’s enough to sustain the population)

Short fence – I had been thinking about places to take my rescue dog to work on recall training and couldn’t think of anywhere with a big enough fence.

Downed trees – It’s been windy here and we have a lot of trees on our property, none of them have fell but some of them could.

Husband’s projects – When he visited me at work that day we talked about all the projects he had worked on that day.

No one is listening

We talked about how your dreams help you sort through complicated thoughts and feelings. This is WHY you analyze your dreams. Let’s go back to the anger I felt in the dream, remember I’ve already decided that it was because:

I saw the problem and didn’t have enough help to solve it and was trying to tell other people about the problem and no one was listening to me.

Let me get a little vulnerable with you. This speaks to me on such a deep level when in comes out industry.

  1. The turnover problem – I see this problem. I’ve been trying to tell everyone that the power in solving this problem is through personal accountability and patience.
  2. The pay problem – I see this problem. Harassing front line keepers and middle managers on zookreepers to include the pay in their job posts isn’t the answer. Knowing how complicated wages are, understanding budgets and finances, advocating for yourselves, and thinking through your jobs changes are a great first step.
  3. Animal rights – I see this problem. I try to help people understand that they need to create an army of advocates , that attacking your own industry hurts, and they need to understand how animal rights legislation and politics affect their jobs.
  4. Culture – I see this problem. You can lead from anywhere, understanding people’s personalities, assuming best intent, and being part of the solution are how we solve this together.
  5. Burnout – I see this problem. You’re in control here! You’ve got to practice self care, understand your personal values, identify your thinking traps, and flip your negative thoughts!
  6. AZA vs. everybody – I see this problem. We have to realize that competition within our industry is bad. We have to stop moralizing our preferences. My next soapbox will be all about how complicated things really are and how NOTHING is black and white. So sign up for the mailing list so you don’t miss out on those.


When you analyze your dreams, you have to identify the source of the complicated feelings and emotions. Then you have to reflect on why you’re feeling and thinking those ways. After you’ve done that you have to reframe those feelings and thoughts.

“No one is listening.”

What evidence do I have for that? The current state of the zookreepers facebook group? A few loud people who are likely well intentioned but just not going about things the way I would? The newest animal rights documentary threatening to drop? The facilities who have lost or are threatened with losing accreditation because they work with private facilities outside of the cool kid’s club?

What evidence do I have in the contrary? The conversations I have with my peers who agree with me? The newest interviewee who said, “Things aren’t black and white.”? The mentees who have applied my suggestions and been promoted and are now in places to make change? The wage and pay conversations being had at the upper management level? The keepers who say, “Keep fighting the good fight?” The emails I get that tell me that my content has truly made a difference for someone? The conversations I have with our industry fans who will go to war against the animal rights groups with us? Or just the fact that no one is an “always/never” word and those are hardly true.

So if you’re listening, let me know! Let’s amplify our voices, our animals, and our industry.

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