Dream research cited in the book Our Dreaming Mind by Robert van de Castle showed that taking the initiative in dreams translates to greater empowerment in real life. If you can understand what the situation is about, you can also understand how you are demonstrating or can demonstrate empowerment in it. Let’s take a look at two empowerment dreams I had recently to see how this happens.

The Dreams

Dream #1

My father comes into my room and says he smells cigarettes. He’s gearing up for a lecture. I know that I’m actually not smoking, I’m vaping, and I begin to tell him this but then realize I don’t need his approval for anything. I tell him it’s my business.

Dream #2

I’m living in an apartment with a younger roommate. The next-door neighbor is singing in the shower so loudly that we can hear him. My roommate gets so frustrated that she bangs on the wall separating our apartments so that he’ll stop.

Then the neighbor is in our apartment. He’s upset because of what my roommate did. She’s about to leave the apartment with a friend of hers. I call her back, saying, “Hey, you need to deal with this, babe” because she was the one who was rude.

Empowering Actions in Dreams

There are multiple ways we can take the initiative in dreams. We can stand up to bullies (Dream #1 above). We can take responsibility for a wrongdoing (Dream #2 above). We can act as leaders (see an example from Rebecca in the comments to Dream: Two Checkpoints). These empowering actions carry an energy that we can use in our daily lives. Let’s see how that works by examining the above two dreams more closely.

Hercules facing the nine-headed serpent, the Hydra

The mythological figure Hercules can be seen as the embodiment of the power we all have within us. “Hercules and the Hydra” (1876) Painting by Gustave Moreau, in the public domain.

Dream #1

In this dream, I stand up to my bullying father. He symbolizes the part of me that makes decisions based entirely on logical analysis, ignoring emotions and intuition. He thinks I’m doing something he disapproves of (we won’t go into the symbolism of smoking here). Vaping, which I do, is a pleasurable experience to me, and I start to defend my right to do something pleasurable but realize I don’t have to.

When I had this dream, I had just brought a period in my life to an end when I was overloading myself with business education. I decided to set aside the education and follow my intuition to make much-needed changes to my business, even though  this violated some of the expert business advice I had gotten. The dream demonstrated self-bullying where I was fighting a misplaced sense of obligation and low confidence. I was getting over the need to justify following my intuition over expert advice.


Empowerment dreams are great for creative visualization. You can mentally go back into the dream and replay that experience of empowerment. This is especially helpful when the experience involved standing up for yourself in the face of someone who bullies you in real life.

If you have an empowerment dream like this, write it down. Then, each time you faced the bully and didn’t stand up for yourself, do a creative visualization where you go back into that dream and re-live that experience. It can help you believe you can stand up to the bully without dire consequences, which is the case with most bullies.

There are situations, though, where standing up to a bully isn’t the best solution.* It might be a boss or supervisor who could take away your job. Or it might be an abusive partner who will physically assault you if you tell him what you really feel. If the situation is such that the bully can really cause you grief and it’s best not to go against him or her then going back into the dream can at least remind you that you’re not as weak as the bully makes you think you are. Remember, dreams reflect who you really are. That strong person in the dream is you!

Dream #2

Dream characters often represent parts of yourself. In the second dream, I’m both the young roommate and the male neighbor. Waking consciousness is trying to negotiate between a younger part of me and a part of me that expresses an unmet need.

The neighbor represents a part of me that wants to “sing my tune” out loud to the world (we’ll ignore the symbolism of the shower here). I had this dream just a few nights after the previous one, so this referred to creating my business in a way that expresses who I really am rather than based on someone else’s ideas. That’s the tune I wanted to sing out loud.

The roommate, younger than me in the dream, represents immature feelings of anxiety in doing this. This comes from a long history of being taught that I’m too incompetent to make my own decisions and need to rely on people who know better to make the decisions for me. This anxiety was trying to interrupt the process of singing my own tune to the world.

The dream demonstrates a common process of evasion. So many of us want to avoid doing things that make us feel uncomfortable. The dream recognizes this dynamic and shows me that I have the power to take responsibility for this. It was clearly wrong to interrupt the neighbor’s singing because he had a right to sing. Likewise, it was wrong of me to try to suppress what I was doing with my business because it would allow me to give the world what I truly have to give. In other words, this was an encouragement dream to keep doing what I was doing.

Empowerment dreams are a gift. They reflect the power that dwells within you. You experience it in the context of the dream, and this brings it into conscious awareness. Hopefully you can translate the power in the dream into real-life behavior. But if you can’t (and sometimes the circumstances just aren’t optimal or you’re just not ready to yet), even just recognizing it can give you strength.

* As an abuse survivor, I don’t accept the argument that you can and should always stand up to a bully. There are circumstances where someone can really hurt you if you challenge them. In such situations, the solution is to get out of the situation as quickly as you can, not to stand up to the bully.