Spot the belief

Spot the Belief Jane Teresa Anderson Dreams

Had a tough day? Ready for a spot of light relief, a bit of fun, a dream interpretation game that’s easy to do yet powerfully insightful? You may never look at your dreams in the same way ever again. It’s called Spot the Belief. This is what to do:

For each of the following dreams, see if you can spot the belief affecting the outcome. Let’s start with a simple example.


Jim’s dream

“I was waiting in line to buy a theatre ticket, but people kept pushing in front of me. Finally I got to the front, but then the ticket office closed and I was directed to join a long queue at another counter.”

Can you spot Jim’s belief?

It’s probably ‘My needs are less important than other people’s’.

Did you guess differently?

You might have got ‘I always seem to be kept waiting,’ or ‘Just when I think I’ve made it, I’m right back to where I started, or worse’. Or you might have got, ‘Patience doesn’t pay,’ or ‘You’ve got to be pushy to get what you want in life’.

These are all good answers. They’re also very similar. We’ll come back to look at these similarities later, but, for now, you know how to play the game. Don’t worry about getting the right answer, as there may be several similar right answers. Just write down the belief that you see in each of the following dreams. So, are you ready? Go, spot the belief!


Greta’s dream

“I was climbing a hill and decided I wanted to go back down again, but there were too many rocks and precipices below where I was standing. I thought that if I walked along one of the precipices I would eventually find an easy way down. The trouble was, even the precipice path led upwards, so in my endeavour to find an easy way back down I just kept climbing higher and higher. I ended up feeling stranded with no way back down.”

Can you spot Greta’s belief? Write it down. (I’ll give you my answer later.)


Nelson’s dream

“I am standing waist deep in water when I notice a shark coming towards me. I am so terrified, I freeze. I close my eyes and hope it will go away. All is quiet for a while and I think the shark has gone, but when I open my eyes I see several more sharks lurking in the water.”

Can you spot Nelson’s belief? Write it down.


Bronwyn’s dream

“I am standing waist deep in water when I notice a shark coming towards me. I am terrified but I try to make friends with the shark to stop it from biting me. I look it in the eye and begin to talk and, amazingly, as I do this it changes from a shark into a huge playful fish. We end up playing swimming games. I am aware it is strong and powerful, but it doesn’t frighten me any more.”

Can you spot Bronwyn’s belief? Write it down.


Karen’s dream

“I keep having dreams involving babies aged about one year old. The dreams are different, but it always turns out that the babies fail to thrive after their first birthday. They become weak, or sick, or I lose sight of them.”

Can you spot Karen’s belief? Write it down.


Your dream

Yes, that’s you! Choose a recurring dream or a short one that’s easy to summarise. First write your dream out in a few sentences to match the length and style of the ones in this article. Then, to get some objective distance, pretend it’s not your dream.

Can you spot the belief? Write it down.


Now, keep an open mind, please, as you read on!

Dreams reveal your unconscious beliefs. They’re not so much about the beliefs you know about, they’re about the beliefs you have carried with you, deep in your unconscious mind, for a long time. How long? Usually from childhood or from traumatic events in your life. They’re the beliefs you take on because they seem to make sense at the time.

The trouble with beliefs is that you act on them. If you believe there’s a pile of gold buried under the tree, you’ll dig it up. If you believe you’re not worthy of being well paid for your skills, you will apply for lower paid jobs or set your fees low. This is as true for the beliefs you don’t know about as for those you do know about. In fact, it’s worse for those you don’t know about because your actions are automatic, with no chance of being vetoed by your wiser judgement.

Most dreams reveal your unconscious beliefs. You can identify them using this Spot the Belief method. At first you may reject them. ‘No, that’s not my belief! Quite the opposite!’ But stop and ask yourself, ‘What kind of actions would a person with this belief take?’ If the belief you’ve spotted is right, you’ll recognise those actions as ones you have taken. I promise you, when you strike gold in identifying that belief, your eyes will be opened and, once you’ve recovered from the shock, certain aspects of your life will suddenly make a lot more sense.

Let’s see how this works for Greta, Nelson and the other dreamers.

These are the beliefs I spotted for each dreamer:


‘Backing down is not an option.’


‘Ignoring my fears and hoping for the best works for a while and then things go from bad to worse.’


‘When I face my fears I overcome them.’


‘Things go well for about a year, and then they stop thriving.’


I bet your results were similar. For example, for Greta you might have had ‘The only way is up, no matter how this makes me feel’. Or ‘There’s no easy way out’.

Usually, when you look at the whole dream instead of just a summary of it, you will see plenty of clues to help zone in accurately on the dreamer’s deepest belief. However you really do need to start by working with a summary of the dream, as illustrated here, to get an idea of the belief, and then move on to examine the longer version of the dream to increase accuracy. The final step comes when the dreamer gets the big ‘aha’ and can see how the belief has been driving their decisions and actions, delivering the results they are experiencing in their life.

So there you have it. Beliefs lead to actions, and actions lead to outcomes. Unconscious beliefs lead to blindly driven actions, and blindly driven actions lead to outcomes that may not match the goals you consciously set yourself.

I can hear your question! ‘If an unconscious belief is not creating the results you want, how can you change it?’

That’s where dream alchemy and, in particular, the use of dream alchemy practices come in. You can read more about this, and how to create suitable dream alchemy practices to change unconscious beliefs in my book Dream Alchemy.

Not all unconscious beliefs work against you. Bronwyn’s dream revealed a magical unconscious belief. Such a dream may come along as a prelude to a challenging time, a gentle reminder that all will be well. Remember, though, that night by night your dreaming mind updates its grasp on ‘what life is all about and how to survive it’. We all change, and, from time to time, a dream will reveal the death of an old belief or the birth of a new one. When Nelson applies a dream alchemy practice to change his beliefs about the best way to cope with fear he may dream a dream such as Bronwyn’s.

Now you know a little about the unconscious beliefs driving Jim, Greta, Nelson, Bronwyn and Karen, how do you imagine their lives to be? What kind of actions do you think they have been taking in their lives? What beliefs would better suit them?

Take Karen, for example. Karen had a dream job very early in her working life. Sadly it came to an abrupt end after a year when her employer absconded with the company funds. It was a traumatic time for Karen. She had put so much of her energy and hope into the job which she saw as a beginning to a perfect career. At that point, Karen took on the unconscious belief that ‘Things go well for about a year, and then they stop thriving’. In the years that followed, whenever a job, relationship or project that Karen was involved in neared the one year mark she began to make decisions and take actions based on the expectation that the job, relationship or project would fail. And so they did. And, until she understood her recurring dream, Karen was totally unaware of any of this.

How did you go with spotting the belief for your dream? Has this belief driven your decisions and actions? What kind of outcomes resulted in your life? Are you happy with these, or are you ready to apply some dream alchemy and start to see the kind of outcomes you would prefer? It’s your life!

[Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, March 2007. First published as a Dream Sight article.]

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2 comments on “Spot the belief”

  1. Kenya Reply

    Very intriguing article Jane! I am an avid dream journaler. I totally agree with you in regards to a dream uncovering your unconscious belief patterns and this is actually what has helped me to overcome some major life patterns. Wonderful article 😉

    • Jane Teresa Anderson Reply

      Thank you Kenya,

      I love the way identifying even just one pattern and then changing it always creates a resounding ripple effect of positive change in our waking lives. It’s like undoing a single knot in a tangled thread and finding that was all that was ever needed to untangle the whole mess and release the thread to create something new and beautiful of your choosing.

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