Dream interpretation is supposed to be easy, no? Just grab a dream dictionary and there you go. Except – no. Although dream dictionaries can be useful if you’re really stuck, they actually hinder most of us in interpreting out dreams. This is because your subconscious mind doesn’t work with universal symbols such as those found in dream dictionaries – it works with symbols and experiences which are unique to you.
It’s no good reading that dreaming of an airplane means overcoming obstacles…..if you’re actually terrified of flying, in which case it might have to do with confronting fears or losing control, or if you work in the airline industry, in which case it might be a straightforward memory dream.
So how do you actually go about interpreting your dreams? Well, while dreams are vague and nebulous things for all of us, here’s a step by step method to help you get to grips with yours.
Record Your Dreams
This is an essential first step, otherwise you won’t have anything to interpret! Get into the habit of recording and recalling your dreams as best you can.
Work Out What Type of Dream It Was
Most dreams are either literal or symbolic. If the dream was a literal one, you really don’t need to worry too much about symbolism and interpretation – the dream means what it says on the tin.
For instance, if you dream about arguing with your partner and you’ve recently argued with your partner….well then, there’s not much mystery there. If you dream about a dog playing with a toy and you’ve recently bought your dog a toy, or are intending to, then you don’t need to worry about what the dog symbolizes and what the toy might mean. Look for simple, obvious, straightforward explanations first.
Remember that anxiety dreams tend to fall into this category too. If you have a job interview coming up and your dreamed of making a fool of yourself in an interview, it doesn’t mean that you will, and nor does it mean something abstract and symbolic – it merely means that you are anxious about the interview.
If the Dream is Symbolic
If you cannot connect the dream to something literal going on in your life, then it was probably an abstract or symbolic dream. This is where it gets trickier!
Remember, we’re not interested in what the symbols and objects in your dream mean to others, only what they mean to you.
Resist the temptation to impose a logical plot onto your dream if it didn’t have one, or to connect the symbols to one another; doing this is likely to skew the meaning.
Think about each action, symbol, object or place in turn. What does this mean to you? How does it make you feel? Does it trigger a particular memory? If so, does something you learned in that memory apply to your current problem or situation?
Does someone or something in the dream represent you? For instance, a child may represent your inner child, or a demon may represent your shadow self, the parts of your nature which you don’t really like.
Don’t forget plays on words and sayings – for instance, if you dream of a donkey or a mule, could that mean that you’re being too stubborn for your own good?
Interpreting symbolic dreams is difficult, but it gets easier with practice, so do try to persevere. If you keep dream journal, you’ll be able to spot patterns and variations on symbols over time, and it will all start to click.