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How to Interpret the Meaning of Your Dream

Susana has a background in Psychology and Counseling and a special interest in dream interpretation.

Read on to learn how to interpret the meaning of your dream.

Read on to learn how to interpret the meaning of your dream.

Can you be honest enough with yourself to find out what your dreams mean? Dreams are an amazing fact of human existence. Where else can we experience firsthand such rich emotions, such a variety of experience and such incredible journeys?

Interpreting Dreams

Dreams challenge us to be honest about who we are. They give us fruitful information about what we want, what we fear, what causes us pain, our insecurities, and the things that are holding us back in life.

But first decoding, and then accepting, the information provided is not always easy. Especially when our dreams touch on the painful, difficult stuff hidden away in our psyches.

The good news is that acknowledging and accepting what's going on in our subconscious and unconscious minds carves a path to liberation which brings so much positivity into our lives.

Self-awareness, self-knowledge, a strong connection to our inner selves, and an awareness of our emotions are the treasures on offer when we truly understand ourselves.

Our subconscious is like our own personal therapist, and we’d be wise to listen to her.

This guide to dream interpretation will explain many of the most important elements you'll need to interpret your dreams accurately and help you reap the benefits of taking the time to do so.


Why Do We Dream?

Theories on why we dream have evolved and changed through the centuries but I believe we are closer now than ever before to being able to understanding what our dreams mean.


Sigmund Freud was one of the first modern psychologists to ask the question, "why do we dream"? His theory was that it was a way for us to process feelings - particularly anxiety and desire. It can be difficult in day to day life to express all our feelings.

Here's an Example of Freud's Analysis

There were a couple of women at work that I was not getting on very well with. They'd organised an event for all the staff to attend but had not told me about it or invited me to it. I had a lot of feelings about it but didn't feel confident enough to say anything to them. So the feelings stayed inside.

Initially I felt angry, then confused, then sad and disappointed.

I didn't have anyone to talk to about these emotions at the time so while I did acknowledge them, they were not expressed in any way. Guess what! A few nights later I had a dream about how angry and sad I am about it all. I shout at them, I scream at them about how unfair it is, then I cry. My emotions definitely got expression.

On this occasion I was aware of my feelings and so the dream meaning was obvious to me. At other times I will not consciously recognize the feelings in the dream because I have used a defense mechanism to protect me against them. In most cases dream feelings are our true ones, the only exception I have come across is a sabotage type dream (see more about that below).

The Unconscious Mind

In the unconscious live the thoughts and feelings that we are so afraid of that we’re not even aware of their existence.

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For instance children that have gone through extremely traumatic events frequently do not remember the occurrence although their behavior can display signs of trauma, such as an inability to form close relationships.

The mind protects us from destructive events using defense mechanisms such as repression, denial, dissociation and distortion and consequently, feelings of anxiety and annihilation are withheld from consciousness.

The Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind is also largely unconscious in that we do not normally use it in our waking state but it can be accessed, and information gathered from it, in certain circumstances.

An example of this is when hypnosis is used to remember a number plate that a witness could not consciously recall.

On the same lines, information we didn’t know we had absorbed comes out in our dreams very clearly. For instance picking up small cues from other people's body language that are not consciously recognized but nonetheless noted in the mind.

The Conscious Mind

The conscious mind is everything that we are aware of when we are awake and interacting in our environment; facts, figures, knowledge, language, self awareness, direct perception, opinions, personal identity – the I of our experience.

The way this relates to dreaming is that unconscious, subconscious and conscious material will be expressed in dreams. I believe this is an effort of the self to integrate into a state of health and wholeness in much the same way as our biological body does.

In the dreaming state we are presented with information that if acknowledged and processed, can help us become more emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy. That is why I think it is important to develop an understanding of dreams that includes all of these elements.

The Intellectual Level—Thought Processing

Throughout our daily lives we are bombarded with information. We think continuously—how to solve this problem, do something more effectively, our beliefs and perceptions of the world are constantly challenged.

These are but a few of the kinds of things we may think about. We learn completely new skills, new ways of doing things, new ways of relating.

The list is endless.

Just like a computer we need to defrag and put all of this information into some kind of order to stop us from getting slow and bogged down and possibly, to prevent us from becoming insane.

Dreaming does this for us.

Our mind is so good at processing thoughts in the dream state we can actually learn things; solve problems and create inventions.


There is no definitive answer in scientific circles about why we dream although there are many theories. The theories range from the belief that they serve no real purpose to them providing an essential function in keeping us sane by processing unexpressed feelings and making new connections in the brain.

While I do enjoy the science part of it, scientists are long way from being able to tell us how we could dream about a relative dying 200 miles away at the very moment they pass away.

Many people report experiences like this or know someone who else who has. Often the dream experience makes no logical sense in a scientific way.


I believe that dreaming serves several functions and one of the most interesting to me is the spiritual one. Our self is constantly working towards integration and health on all levels.

When we are dreaming I believe that unencumbered with our physical body and far away from the busyness of everyday life, we can more easily connect with our energy bodies, our higher self, our spirit guides and universal energy.

We can access information that we would not normally be able to in our ordinary waking state. The exception to this is the meditative state which also enables connection to the subtler parts of ourselves and universal energies.

Discover the Function and Theme of Your Dream

You can figure out what your dream means by identifying which of the following functions it may be trying 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.

There are many other functions of dreams and as you get more practiced in dream interpretation, you'll find they fall into some clear themes or categories.

The Main Functions of Dreams

  1. Expressing and processing emotions
  2. Maintaining or improving mental health
  3. Providing information on what we want, need, think, or feel
  4. Giving sexual release
  5. Organizing knowledge and experiences—defragging the mind like a computer
  6. Learning (making connections)
  7. Helping with problem solving (creativity, thinking out of the box, new inventions, finding solutions)
  8. Providing wish-fulfillment (e.g. having a sexy dream about being with someone you have a crush on)
  9. Connecting to spiritual realities (rare!)

10 Dream Themes You Need to Be Aware Of

You will not need to worry that your dream about messing up your job interview is anything but an expression of anxiety and fear.

Of course, our dreams are often composed of a variety of themes and you will need to be able to pick out which bits are what but this will come easily with a little practice.

See if you can recognize having any of these types of dream...