≡ Menu

The Quick Guide To Dream Interpretation

Chicago at night, from a distance
Creative Commons License photo credit: kevindooley

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”  – Edgar Allan Poe

Just as I was thinking about writing this post, I came across Jay’s 9 part Dream Analysis series over at Inner Noodle (I’ve linked to the latest post – 5 of 9).  My version is the quick guide, but if you are looking for more in depth information about interpreting dreams, go check out Jay’s series.  (It’s excellent!!)

Dreams have fascinated people for as long as we have been dreaming.  Dreams can be strange, enjoyable and just plain fun to explain to someone else in the morning.  I often spend time recording and interpreting my own dreams.  For one, I think it’s fun, but also, I find that interpreting my dreams leads me to inspect areas of my life I am not aware of or that I am neglecting.  Dreams provide me with clues about what steps I should take next and have helped me understand my waking life.  Here is a simple process I use to interpret my dreams.

  1. Remember and record your dreams – At certain times I find it difficult to remember my dreams and at other times I am able to recall them vividly when I wake up.  I find that one of the best ways to remember your dreams in the morning is to prep yourself at night.  Just like you can wake up without an alarm clock by repeatedly thinking to yourself the time you need to get up, if you think to yourself “remember my dreams” you will have a better success rate.  Also, make sure you have something to write down (or type) your dreams with close by in the morning.
  2. Notice the parts of the dream that stick out to you – Before you reach for a “dream dictionary” that lists dream symbols and their meanings, think about the parts of the dream that made an impression on you.  Those are the things you want to analyze.  Maybe you dreamed of a childhood friend that you have not thought of in years, or you had a certain emotion during the dream, or the color of an object stood out to you.  Pay attention to these things.
  3. List all associations/meanings that come to mind – For all of the things that stand out to you, brainstorm ideas/thoughts/feelings that you associate with that thing.  For instance, if a childhood friend shows up in your dream, ask yourself – “what was our relationship like?” “what was his/her personality like?” “what do I think of when I think of that friend?”.  Don’t censor yourself.  If you need some ideas, this is where you can turn to a dream dictionary, but I would brainstorm by yourself first.
  4. Notice how the things you picked out relate to each other in the dream – So, if your childhood friend is driving a silver car, think about the relationship between your friend, the car, and the color silver in the dream if those are the things that stand out to you.
  5. Ask yourself how this fits in to your life now – At this point you want to connect the meanings you have discovered and what’s happening in your life right now.  Just ask yourself “how does this relate to my life now?” and see what you get.  For example, maybe this childhood friend used to boss you around, and when you interpreted her that’s what came to mind first.  Is there anyone in your life right now doing the same?  How are the situations similar and how did you interact with this friend in the dream?  This may give you clues as to what steps you need to take next.

Dream interpretation is not an exact science.  A dream is a web of meanings and symbols that needs to be sifted through to get to a message, but ultimately a dream is what it means to you.

Do you believe that dreams are meaningful?  What’s been your experience with dream interpretation?  Let us know what you think in the comment section.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Jay March 17, 2009, 6:17 pm

    Great tips and thank you for referencing my guide. The only thing I must say to be true to what I believe is please, please, please try to avoid those dream dictionaries. Dreams are personal, no one knows what a bird in your dream means but you. Dictionaries are broad examples that hardly ever have any personal connotation. For example, if you had a bird as a pet as a child that you loved, a bird will have a different meaning then the person who was attacked by a swan once. What you said in the end is perfect- a dream is what it means to you. Good stuff Amanda. Great to see others talking about dreams! 🙂

    Jay’s last blog post..Inner Noodle’s Guide to Dream Analysis- Step 5

  • Daphne March 17, 2009, 6:56 pm

    Hi Amanda,

    I’ve been reading Jay’s series and commented there as well that I don’t seem to remember my dreams so I have nothing to interpret! I suppose it’s both a good and bad thing. I like the simplicity and clarity of your post though, and how you linked to Jay’s series for more in-depth understanding. Great teamwork!

    Daphne’s last blog post..Can You Become Richer In A Recession?

  • Amy Jewell March 17, 2009, 7:36 pm

    Some great tips here. I would love to remember my dreams more than I do. I will definitely have to try some of these ideas! Thanks for sharing them.

    Amy Jewell’s last blog post..Is Hiring a Website Designer Stopping You?

  • Amanda Linehan March 17, 2009, 9:52 pm

    Hi Jay – Your welcome – dreams are a fascinating subject and I’ve enjoyed your series a lot. I very much agree with you about the dream dictionaries – ultimately they hinder the interpretation because, as you pointed out, they are not personal. However, I will turn to a dictionary to “kickstart” my own brainstorming if I come across something in a dream that I feel stuck on. Thanks for your thoughts on this and looking forward to the final parts of your series!

    Hi Daphne – Yeah, there are periods where I find it very difficult to remember dreams or it almost feels like I’m not dreaming at all. All the more time to spend blogging, right? 😉

    Hi Amy – Thanks for your comment! I find that when I want to remember my dreams I have more success, but they are slippery things 🙂

  • Arswino March 18, 2009, 1:02 am

    Hi Amanda, I didn’t care too much about my dream before. Whether there is a meaning in it or not, I have never thought about it.
    I will try to apply that method. Thanks for sharing, Amanda.

    Arswino’s last blog post..10 Characteristics of Positive Thinking People

  • Amanda Linehan March 18, 2009, 5:46 am

    Hi Arswino – Thanks for sharing. I would be interested to know if you find anything interesting in your dreams if you give this a try. 🙂

  • Lee Ann / Living Introverted March 18, 2009, 8:39 am

    You know, I’ve always been a bit mystified by my dreams – not a night goes by that I don’t dream of water – it is always an element in my dreams.

    But I’ve never tried analyzing my dreams, especially the thing with the water. Part of me thinks that any “answers” I come up with will be unprovable and that doesn’t appeal to me, and the other part of me is probably a little scared to find out what my dreams mean!

    Maybe I will try this process!

    Lee Ann / Living Introverted’s last blog post..The Whole Job/Career for Introverts Thing – Revisited

  • FupDuckTV March 19, 2009, 5:22 pm

    I recently had a dream that I was being hunted by the crazy lady from that Millionaire Matchmaker TV show. She was full on stalking me through a flooded version of my town with highrise versions of 1910’s style homes with porches and bad paint jobs. I was escaping from her in a motorboat with my college roommate. It was surreal….

    I guess I will have to go over to Jay’s blog and figure out what this all means. BTW, there was much more I remember from this dream, but it is isn’t even approprriate for the internet.

  • Amanda Linehan March 19, 2009, 8:20 pm

    Hi Lee Ann – That’s interesting that you dream of water so often. Several years ago I had a lot of dreams about tornadoes and being that I have never actually seen one in real life (I live in a part of the country that rarely gets them) I found that interesting. At the time, I didn’t interpret my dreams, but I bet I would have learned a lot if I had!

    Hi FupDuckTV – Good luck with that one!!

Leave a Comment

Next post:

Previous post:

%d bloggers like this: