Yep – you read that title correctly. Here I have written out my step by step guide to help you interpret your own dreams! This blog post is a long one but it is meant to help guide you in figuring out for yourself what your dreams really mean. I made each step simple to eliminate any anxiety that comes when you just look at a dream and think – what the heck does all this mean? You just need to dissect your dream following this seven step (don’t you love that number 7!) process and you will have greater insight into what your sleeping self is trying to communicate.
Are you ready? Here we go!
Step 1: Where does your Dream Take Place?
When looking at your dream the first thing you want to do is figure out where this dream takes place because that will give you a general overview of what this dream is trying to tell you. Each location has its own general meaning which will give you a framework for what your dream is trying to tell you.
First, does this dream take place inside or outside? Dreams taking place inside are representative of how we feel about a particular situation while dreams taking place outside represent other’s views and opinions about a situation.
Second, what kind of building are you in or are around you? The types of buildings tell us a great deal about the general themes of this dream. Are you in a school or is there a school building nearby? Then this dream is about learning and education. Are you in a house? The dream is about you and your personal self. Is this a house from childhood? Now we are looking at personal issues that stem from your past. An office building? Work. You get the idea. So what kind of buildings are around you and what do they represent?
Now we have a basic overview of what the main overarching theme of your dream is about.
Step 2: What is your Dream about?
Now we want to dive in and really look at what your dream is trying to tell you. Pick out all the big nouns in your dream. These are the actual things that are doing something or having a presence in your dream. Think back to grade school – the people, places and things.
We already looked at the places in your dream, so set those aside. Take the people out as well, we will look at those next. Just focus on the things. These are what you would look up in a dream dictionary.
Okay – you have them? Now we want to get into the meat of this interpretation and figure out what they actually mean. Each item can have layers of meaning and you will have to use your gut to figure out what meaning (or meanings) make the most sense for your situation.
First, look at what that item means to you. Do you have any special association with the item or does it bring up any special memories. This is where having someone else interpret your dream fails to cover – because we just don’t know these things about you. For example, a snake may symbolize change and transformation to a lot of people, but maybe it means something entirely different to you. Perhaps you had a snake as a pet growing up and this snake was like your best friend. Instead of writing in a journal you told this snake all your problems and dreams. Now the image of a snake in a dream doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with transformation for you, but instead it represents someone or something that knows every intimate detail about you.
Next, after you have written your personal meaning down, think about the characteristics of that item. How is this item used in everyday life? What does this thing do? A car gets you from place A to place B – it can represent transitions in your life. A snake sheds its skin – this can show how you are letting go of the past. What is your item and what does it do?
Finally, look at the culture you live in and see if this noun has any special associations with it. Something that is ingrained in the way you think about this item. Going back to the snake, in some cultures a snake is revered and thought of as a symbol of awakening to a higher spiritual power. That is a very different cultural meaning than the snake’s representation in the story of Adam and Eve. So does this noun have any meaning in your culture?
Now sort through these three meanings and see which one (or several) “feels” right in your gut or makes the most sense based on the setting and location where your dream is taking place. Remember though, that dream symbols can have multiple meanings so don’t discard any one too quickly.
Step 3: Who is your Dream about?
Now let’s focus on the people in your dream. How many times have you woken up from a dream and wondered why a specific person showed up as a major character in your dream? Maybe it was an acquaintance from high school that you barely talked to and haven’t seen in years. Perhaps your great aunt Margret made an appearance. And then some people shudder when their ex appears and they wonder why this person who they thought they were over is showing up back in the picture – does it mean they still have feelings for them?
Let us look closer at these people and really figure out why they are showing up in your dream. First you need to determine what category this person falls into. Is this someone you know – is this someone who isn’t specific but fits a general category – is this someone you have known that has passed away – does this person “feel” like a spiritual force?
If this is a person you know or have known in your life:
First, without thinking too hard, how would you describe this person in one or two sentences to someone who has never met the person? What characteristics about this person stand out to you in your mind? That acquaintance from high school, do you follow her on Facebook and think of her as the perfect mom who always has pintrest worthy birthday parties for her kids? Is your great aunt Margret a little cooky but you have always admired her sense of confidence and attitude?
Next, take those sentences and narrow them down to just two or three words. Who is great aunt Margret – confident and bold.
Now, look at how those characteristics show up in your own life. In what ways are you being confident and bold? Would great aunt Margret be proud of how you are acting or would she tell you to step up your game? See how these words relate back personally to you.
If this individual is a general category of people:
General categories of people have characteristics that go along with them as well. If someone shows up in your dream as a witch, then you associate certain ideas and themes to that individual. In our collective consciousness specific types of people have become archetypes – think of these individuals as they are represented over and over again in childhood stories – the evil stepmother, the hermit in the woods, the brave prince. These characters play a specific role in the stories they read and they play a similar role in our dreams.
So think about what category this individual falls into. What characteristics do you associate with this type of character? How is this character supposed to behave? What is the next step they are supposed to take in their story?
If this is someone who has past away:
Have you ever had one of those dreams where you wake up in the morning and you swear your grandmother had been their? Maybe you even catch a brief scent of her perfume. Visitations from the spirit world are found throughout cultures and even skeptics seem to think twice when someone they loved and lossed appears to them in a dream.
Dreams that are visitations usually have very little else that going on in the dream. There won’t be multiple scenes or car chases. These will be simple dreams and they tend to leave you with strong emotions when you wake up.
There is something comforting about the thought of getting one last visit from a loved one. Practically, however, there are some considerations to think about with these dreams. They usually do not happen right after someone has passed to the other side. There seems to be a readjustment period for spirits to reacquaint themselves with the workings of the other side (even though time as we understand it doesn’t really exist over there). It also is not an easy thing for spirits to cross into our dreams, it takes a lot of energy for them to do this so they likely won’t come visiting every night. Also, strong emotions tend to make it harder for the spirit world to communicate. So if you are still in the midsts of grief or are trying too hard to make this connection, it usually won’t happen. But, then again, with the spirit world, anything is possible!
I have found, at least for myself and those I know, that these type of dreams occur most readily out of the blue – when you are not really thinking about the individual. And it is not only people’s spirits that can make an appearance in a dream – animals have been known to make themselves known as well.
If this individual “feels” spiritual:
I didn’t know really what to label this category – and fair warning – we are about to get very woo woo and metaphysical here. If you are uncomfortable with the spiritual side of life, just skip this section and continue on in your analysis.
Basically, these dreams are about entities that are in the spirit realm but you did not necessarily know them in your current incarnation – so not your dead grandmother. These beings can include your personal spiritual guides, who are entities that are assisting and guiding you in your current life, or even ascended masters and teachers.
Our spiritual guides sometimes pop up in our “common” dreams to help guide along a situation or experience. Dreams with your guides may seem a little more typical as well in that you won’t feel a big emotional reaction to their presence. Your guides are with you at all times and you are, most likely, very accustomed to their energy vibration so them showing up in a dream won’t really feel like anything different or out of the ordinary. But if you feel a strong connection or recognition with an individual in your dream and you just don’t know why, this could mean that your spiritual guide is making an appearance.
Some individuals will occasionally have a dream where someone appears that just “feels” spiritual and powerful. These dreams, like visitation dreams, are usually simple and only one scene. These are difficult to describe other than – you will know one when you have one – but they are the result of beings of great knowledge and spiritual power making a connection with us in our dream state. With these dreams you may just “know” or have a feeling of who the individual is without that individual looking like their earthly representation.
Step 4: Add in those adjectives
After you have all the nouns taken care of, now we move onto the adjectives – those descriptive words that give us more detail about the dream and can provide deeper insight into why you are having this dream.
Think to your dream. What are the characteristics and qualities of the nouns. Is there anything in particular which stands out to you. What is the color of the noun? The texture? Is it big or small? Does it have any distinguishing features?
Use these descriptors to flush out the meaning of your nouns. Was the snake you dreamed about big and red? What do these characteristics add to the message behind the snake for you. Was the water in your dream murky and the waves intense – how does this change your definition of the noun?
Step 5: What happens in the dream?
Here is where we add our verbs to the equation. What is actually taking place in the dream? What actions occur in this space and time?
Actions and verbs are important as they tell us the potential moves that the dreamer can make and what the outcome of these activities may be. If the dreamer likes the outcome they may want to replicate a similar activity in their daily life. If they don’t like the outcome then they will know to stop doing the activity. Of course, the activity in the daily life isn’t going to match exactly the activity in the dream. If that were the case then we wouldn’t have any fun!
Step 6: What are you feeling?
Another important aspect of a dream to look at is what you are feeling during the dream. Did you wake up with strong emotions? These feelings can clue you in on your reaction to the events and scenarios taking place in your dream that you are interpreting.
Be sure to be honest with yourself about these feelings. They aren’t going to lie, but sometimes you don’t want to admit to yourself that these feelings exist deep down. Look at them with compassion. It is okay to have these feelings and your dreams are just helping you to become aware of what you feel on a deeper level.
Step 7: Let’s put Humpty back together again!
Now is the fun part. Take all those bits and pieces that you have pulled out of your dream and put them back together again. A lot of dream interpretation is based on intuition and instinct. Which meaning “feels” right for the situation – what do you “think” this word means based on your present life circumstances. Putting these pieces back together is the same way – there is an art to this process.
Remember to also look for patterns while doing this. Do you have several elements that you have written the same meaning for? Are your noun’s interpretation along the same train of thought? Did you dream about a snake and a car, two symbols that can relate to transformation? Take those patterns and see them as main themes. These are the ultimate purpose of what this dream is trying to relate to you.
Now create a story from all these pieces. Use your creativity and weave a picture of what is going on based on the meanings you have brought forward. Try to be creative and let go of your ego. Our dreams are going to be brutally honest with us – let them be and accept what comes up. No one else needs to know what your dream really means.
Congratulations! You have interpreted your dream! Now keep at it, the more you do this the more you will begin to see patterns and themes emerge. This will help you gain greater insight into what you are really thinking about and dealing with on that unconscious level.