How to Interpret the Meaning of Your Dream
You Need to Be Honest With Yourself
Dreams challenge us to be honest about who we are, what we want, what we fear, what causes us pain, our insecurities, and the things that are holding us back in life. They often provide insight into what’s going well and what’s going not-so-well. Our subconscious is like our own personal therapist, and we’d be wise to listen to her!
Getting into dream interpretation has so many benefits. It can bring liberation, self-awareness, self-knowledge, a strong connection to our inner selves, and an awareness of our emotions.
This article will explain many of the most important elements you'll need to interpret your dreams.
Step 1: Determine the Function of Your Dream
You can figure out what your dream means by identifying which of the following functions it may be able to serve.
For example, if you watched a movie about vampires and then had a dream about vampires that night, the most logical function of that dream, taken from the list below, would be "Organizing Knowledge & Experience." Your brain took in certain elements of the movie, and your dream organized those elements into your existing knowledge base.
The Main Functions of Dreams
- Expressing and processing emotions
- Maintaining or improving mental health
- Providing information on what we want, need, think, or feel
- Giving sexual release
- Organising knowledge and experiences — de-fragging the mind like a computer
- Learning (making connections)
- Helping with problem solving (creativity, thinking out of the box, new inventions, finding solutions)
- Providing wish-fulfillment (e.g. having a sexy dream about being with someone famous)
- Connecting to spiritual realities (rare!)
Through lucid dreaming and dream incubation, we can develop confidence in ourselves and in any area of our lives that we choose to. We can also go on some amazing adventures!
Step 2: Don't Ignore Your Emotions
The emotions we experience in our dreams are one of the most important aspects to consider. Believe it or not, our dreams are trying to be obvious! Understanding dream language can take a bit of practice, but, once you get into the right mindset, you’ll find that the majority of your dreams can be interpreted quickly and easily.
An Example of Why Emotions in Dreams Are Important
- If you are driving a fast car in your sleep and feel exhilarated, this could mean that you're progressing at a great speed in some area of your life, and you are finding it exciting.
- But what if you are driving a fast car and feel terrified of crashing? The meaning will be vastly different. If could mean that you are traveling too fast in an area of your life and feel out of control.
- What if you are driving in a fast car that can only go up to 10 miles an hour, and you feel impotent and frustrated? Then you will need to look at what is holding you back in your life, whether it be an inside or outside circumstance.
Make a special note of your feelings in relation to each symbol that appears in your dream. This valuable information will help you determine what the message is.
The Relevance of Recent and Past Events in Dreams
These come up a lot. Sometimes it is because our minds are trying to process and organise what has recently happened. At other times, recent events are handy symbols that represent other information.
Past Events, People, and Places
We also frequently see these in our sleep. They are usually telling us that there is something from our past that needs understanding or resolving. We will normally find that the issue is also prominent in our lives right now.
If you dream about a house you lived in as a child, ask yourself what was happening in your life at the time you lived there.
- Did your parents separate?
- Did you change schools?
- Was it a particularly happy time?
- Ask yourself why your mind would want you to revisit that time again.
- Are there things or issues from that time that are still holding you back?
- Did you make decisions based on events in the past that are no longer relevant or useful?
- Do you need to recapture a certain quality or feeling?
Prophetic and Psychic Dreams
There’s a strong myth that all of our dreams foretell the future, and this is simply not true. That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen — I've had quite a few myself.
Dreams can occasionally give us information about future events (which is where the myth comes from). However, unless we have highly developed psychic abilities, these are usually few and far between. This begs the question, “How do we know when our dream is prophetic?” Unfortunately, the answer is we can’t know until the event we dreamt of takes place.
A lot of people have experienced dreams that involve ESP or, what we might call, psychic events. Again, these are quite rare. Most people might be lucky to have one or two of these in their lifetime. They include:
- Dreams of a deceased relative or friend (accompanied by feelings of joy, peace, and love)
- Seeing a deceased person we do not know
- A dream involving extra sensory perception (ESP), such as seeing an event in our sleep that is taking place at the very moment we are sleeping
- Seeing angels, spirit guides, or religious figures
- Visions of past lives
- Out-of-body experiences
- Astral travel
Those who have had these kinds of dreams report that they are exceptionally vivid, and that the emotions are particularly intense. There is also a sense of watching the scene as an observer rather than being involved in it.
While distressing, nightmares can tell us a great deal about ourselves. In particular, they tell us about what we fear, what causes us the most emotional pain, and what is holding us back in life. Nightmares usually express deep feelings and thoughts that we are unconscious of. That's why they're so frightening; they bring to our attention emotions that we perceived to be threatening, devastating, and/or overwhelming at some point in our past.
The occurrence of a nightmare is a sign that we're now ready to deal with these emotions, and that we need to deal with them for the sake of our emotional, mental, or spiritual health. This statement may sound obvious, but it's surprising how many of us don't understand that our nightmare is telling us about something we are frightened of or anxious about. Take the time to discover its meaning, and you'll benefit in the long term.
Below are three common dreams with examples of questions you need to ask yourself in order to accurately interpret them.
1. A Partner Being Unfaithful
Dreams of your partner cheating on you are most often an expression of your own anxiety and insecurity. Very rarely will they be your intuition alerting you about actual cheating. You should rule out all other possibilities first by asking yourself:
- Are you scared that your partner will leave you?
- Do you have low self-esteem and/or low confidence and wonder whether you deserve your partner?
- Have you or your partner cheated on each other or other partners before, and you are worried this will happen again?
- Do you have problems trusting people?
- Do you find it difficult to trust yourself?
- Are you attracted to someone else?
2. Being Naked
What does being naked tell you? This will depend greatly on how you feel about it in your dream. Are you embarrassed, ashamed, free, liberated, vulnerable, scared, indignant, exposed, natural, or exhilarated?
If you experienced a negative emotion in relation to your nakedness, it could mean:
- You are feeling very vulnerable at the moment.
- You are scared of being exposed in some way.
- You are insecure about your body.
- You are hiding something you need to share.
If you experienced a positive emotion in relation to your nakedness, it could mean:
- You feel totally free.
- You feel liberated from a problem, setback, or difficulty.
- You are at one with your physical nature.
- You enjoy your body.
- You are being completely honest about who you are, what you want, or what you need.
3. Dreams Involving Animals
When interpreting animal symbols, I often ask myself, "What special characteristics does this animal embody?"
- The eagle soars freely high above the earth. Therefore, the eagle has a broad perspective of what is below and will be able to "take in the whole picture." Do you already see the whole picture, or you do need to take a more objective view of something? Maybe you need to look at things from another perspective.
- The eagle is strong and powerful. Do you feel strong and powerful or does someone in your life embody these qualities?
- The eagle is a skillful hunter. Do you need to hunt something down or do you feel like someone is hunting you down?
- Are you feeling stung by something that happened recently or by something someone said?
- Bee is a homophone of "Be." Is your dream of bees telling you to just "be" yourself?
- Think about what is special about bees. Bees are very busy, productive, and industrious creatures. They work cooperatively for their survival. They swarm together for protection and to attack. They are hive creatures: the group is more important and more powerful than the individual. They produce a nourishing food (honey). Do one of these things prick your intuition about what bees mean to you?