With so many of us experiencing vivid dreams, and remembering them more often than not, discussing last night’s epic adventures over the breakfast table has become common place. Whilst we all like to think we know what are dreams mean, it’s always good to have a bonafide expert explain them. We’ve teamed up with Eric Ackroyd, author of Dream Dictionary, an A-Z guide of dream symbols and psychology, to pick out some of the most common dreams.
How to interpret your dreams
Record your dreams
Get into the habit of writing down your dreams straight away. That means having pen and paper at your bedside and the determination to wake up and sit up after a dream and immediately write it down. It is a good idea to put the day and date at the top of the page before going to sleep. This is an outward expression of your serious intention to take note of your dreams; and it also means that, on waking, you can get straight down to writing out your dream.
Look at several dreams together
Don’t think you have to work out the meaning of every dream straight away. Of course, there is no harm in jotting down what strikes you there and then as its obvious meaning. However, before finally making up your mind about the meaning of any single dream, it is best to make a record of several dreams and look at them together, to see if there is a common pattern. There may be a recurring image, or different images saying the same thing.
The psychological significance of dreams
A dream not only appears within the context of an ever-continuing series of dreams; it also occurs within the context of your life as a whole – your family life, your work, your love- (and hate-) life. Your dreams reflect your deepest emotional responses to your waking-life experiences.
Sequence in dreams
Often the part of a dream that is remembered first and therefore recorded first is the last part of the dream. In fact, the tendency is to remember and write down all the sections of a dream in reverse order. This should be borne in mind when getting down to the business of interpreting your dreams: sometimes, for instance, the last part of a dream gives a solution to a problem posed in the first part of the dream.
Not all dreams have profound psychological significance. Some are mere repetitions of the day’s events. Some dreams may have straightforward physical explanations. A full bladder may cause you to have a frighteningly embarrassing dream about wetting your pants, for example. So do not assume that every dream has a deep meaning. Not every dream will contain a life-transforming revelation – but any dream might!
Here are some of the dreams we’ve been experiencing explained:
1. If you are being chased in a dream, what is chasing you probably symbolizes something you are afraid of, either in your external life or – more commonly – in your inner self, your unconscious. For example, a woman who dreams of being chased by men is probably afraid of sex. (Freud would add that her dreams present, in disguise, an unconscious, repressed desire for sex.)
2. If you are doing the chasing, the ‘you’ in your dream is probably your conscious ego and the thing you are chasing is almost certainly some part of yourself that frightens you. Chasing it away means disowning it, banishing it from your conscious life. It might be much better to try to integrate it into your conscious life. At the very least, get to know it and understand it.
1. A dog may symbolize your ‘animal’ nature, particularly if you haven’t yet accepted that you have an animal nature!
2. It the dog is frothing with rage, this might indicate some repressed part of you is now ‘at the end of its tether’ and will cause a lot of trouble if not given attention and allowed its proper place in your life.
3. If the dog is paired with, say, a wolf, then it is the wolf that will symbolize your animal nature, and the dog (if its emotional ‘feel’ is contrasted in the dream with that of the wolf) will represent some ‘higher’ part of your nature.
4. The dog may stand for some person you know, in which case the dream will be telling you something about the person’s character or expressing what you feel about the person (that he or she is a ‘dog’ or a ‘bitch’). See also Animal, Wolf.
1. A tree may symbolize the life principle or the power of growth.
2. It may symbolize the fulfilling of your destiny by surrendering to inner forces of growth and the guidance that comes from your unconscious, as distinct from such things as conscious planning and the will to achieve.
3. A tree may present an antidote to personal (intellectual or moralistic, for example) lopsidedness. Just as the tree can reach high in the sky only because it is strongly rooted in the earth, so it may be that spirituality cannot be arrived at except via sensuality, and that the full development of consciousness requires the assistance of the unconscious.