Perform a reality check whenever you notice:
A character is performing an unusual role, or you are performing an unusual role.
Characters and objects are in the wrong setting, or you are in a strange place.
The time is wrong (from the past) or the situation is bizarre.
People dont tend to do those things in their dreams unless they program themselves to do so or program themselves to be questioning, otherwise people are usually unaware when their DC is doing something unusual or an object in the wrong place in a dream. One needs to most of the time program themselves in some manner first so they can start becoming aware of these things in a dream.
I think cause you experienced LD from the first time you tried, you are unaware of how people usually go about having to learn how to do these things. You are missing telling poster "how" to do these things you are suggesting.
eg I can see something very weird eg a talking tornado with eyes, but cause Im dreaming, Im not even aware this is weird at all!!! (this is why Im refering to the need of programming to have more hope of being able to do those things you mentioned). Someone otherwise can go to bed each night telling themselves they will become aware if anything weird happens and keep missing the weirdness. That then negatively impacts on their LD attempts as they become more and more frustated at themselves and "why didnt that make me aware!?"
Anyway, I suggest when telling people what they should try to do, to also tell them "how" to do it too.