Helpers pop up all over the place in dreams. Sometimes we accept the help with gratitude. Or sometimes we accept it grudgingly. But at least if we accept it, we can move on. Problems happen when we reject the help because help in a dream is usually genuine. Let’s see how the dynamics of rejecting help in a dream work through a recent dream I had about cleaning my apartment.

The Dream

My apartment is a mess and I have to clean it. I feel overwhelmed. The neighbor across the hall suddenly appears at my doorway. He says he has a machine that you just turn on and it’ll clean everything up. You don’t have to do anything. He offers to lend it to me. I’m suspicious of these claims and reject his offer.

Rejecting Someone’s Help in a Dream

In my experience, the overarching function of dreams is to guide us on our personal and spiritual growth. This is why I see all offers of help as genuinely helpful.* I see them as offers of assistance from Spirit, the Universe, Source, or whatever you want to call it. There is a wise part of us that’s all knowing. It knows exactly what we need at any given moment. Helpful dream figures are the voice of that wise part of us.

This does, though, get tricky when you’re dealing with dream figures who represent destructive people in your life. For example, my father often represents the over-analytical, emotionally distanced part of me and appears in dreams when I’m ignoring my intuition or emotions (or both). And yet, he’s sometimes offered help in dreams. For instance, I dreamt once I was moving and he helped me deal with some electrical appliances. The help was about conserving my energy for a future phase of growth rather than expending it on the transitional phase I was going through.

Statue of man in jacket holding up hands as if to reject something

Rejecting the help of a dream figure could interfere with your progress. Photo by Ari Canonica, courtesy of Wikimedia’s Creative Commons

The dream figure may be troublesome or repulsive to you, but that doesn’t guarantee that the help they give you in the dream isn’t genuine. Even when the help appears counter-intuitive or inappropriate, keep an open mind about it. Symbolically, it may represent exactly what you need. These things, though, can make it seem logical (in the logic of the dream) to reject the help being offered.

We reject help for a lot of reasons. We may have been taught things that make us suspicious of the help being offered (as you’ll see later in my dream). We may be afraid of what will happen if we accept the help. Freud called this retribution, the feeling that we’ll be punished severely if we do or don’t do something. We may feel too comfortable in the old way to want to shift into the new way. Or we may simply not feel ready to accept the transition from feeling helpless to feeling empowered (although having the dream shows us that we are).


Rejecting help offered in a dream is a sign that you need to re-assess the situation. Figure out first what the help is and how it can make the real-life situation that the dream is guiding you on better. Then figure out why you’re rejecting the help. That’s a start.

Accepting the help, though, may be very difficult, especially if it involves changing your beliefs. You could do a creative visualization where you enter the dream scene and change it. Rather than reject the help, accept it. Imagine how the dream’s outcome and your feelings in the dream will improve. That could be a catalyst for moving forward in the real-life situation that the dream is helping you with.

In this dream, the help I was being offered had to do with cleansing. I was going through a meditation program that was forcing me to think about false beliefs I had about fulfilling major ambitions. Major ambitions have always been fantasies to me, as in “never going to happen.” The meditations were helping me see that my attitude towards my major ambitions was really about guilt. I was taught that I shouldn’t have them because they distracted me from my real purpose in life–to satisfy my abusers’ needs.

The other interesting dynamic in the dream is the conflict between effortlessness and effort. On the surface, in fact, my suspicions seem wise. Nothing’s easy, right? But as the meditations were teaching me, fulfilling ambitions, even big ambitions, doesn’t have to be as difficult as we make it. It’s not about not doing hard work. Hard work is always involved in reaching a worthwhile goal. It’s about the emotional song-and-dance we make ourselves go through, swinging between feeling like we can conquer the world when things go well and feeling like we’re losers when things go wrong.

But since this is coming from a dream, the offer of help is genuine. Cleansing doesn’t have to be so difficult. It’s only when we hang onto the safety we feel from old beliefs that it becomes a struggle. The wise guide was, of course, me telling myself that. But on a conscious level, I refused the revelation.

When you reject help in a dream, believe that you’re rejecting wise guidance. Know that your dreams support you in whatever you’re going through. Believe that the source of your dreams can see the bigger picture in ways that your conscious mind can’t and is always trying to help you see it too, whatever that takes.

* I don’t see dreams as judging you. Some dreamworkers, however, do. They think dreams reflect the same unhealthy behavior patterns that we practice in real life (see, for example, my post on Alfred Adler’s ideas on dreams). In my sample dream, for instance, the neighbor would represent the part of me that wants an easy solution to every problem. My main concern with this is that it doesn’t get you very far. Besides making me feel bad for a natural (albeit unhealthy) human desire that everything be easy, there’s not much I can do with the dream if I don’t take the help offered in it as genuine.