Top 4 Tips For Interpreting Your Dreams


One of the most creative ways you can access your inner experience is to practice interpreting your dreams. And who isn’t curious about understanding themselves better?

Freud called dreams the “royal road to the unconscious,” suggesting that our dreams can give us a window into aspects of our lives that are outside of immediate awareness, or just below the surface. Many people today recognize the important channel of information that dreams provide, especially in our busy lives where we might not always have time to stop and think about things. I tend to agree, and seldom pass up a chance to discuss dreams whenever a client remembers one, and brings it up.

By paying attention to your dreams, you’ll benefit from the opportunity to gain insights into yourself, your feelings, and your life.

Here are a few tips to get you started interpreting your dreams.

1. Understand Dreams As Emotional Processing Tools

Dreams appear to help us process new information. As such, they often increase in frequency when we are going through adjustments to new situations or stressful times. The more distress you experience, the more outlandish your dreams can be. Believe it or not, your dreams are actually trying to help you manage adjusting to the new situations. If you wake up disoriented and upset from a dream, try not to freak out. Remember, it’s just a dream. Chances are your dream is there to remind you of what you’re going through, providing you insightful hints for understanding your situation better.

2. Dreams Amplify Feelings and Thoughts from Waking Life

Dreams are often amplifications of feelings and thoughts we have in waking life. Clueing into the elements of the feelings that resonate with waking life is the starting place to understand what your dreams’ possible messages. For instance, if you dream about forgetting to button your shirt for work, the feeling is embarrassment. Tracking the feeling, you may be worried about feeling embarrassed by forgetting something important in real life. Ask yourself what that might be, and you are on your way to understanding concerns you may not have been aware of.

3. Dreams Are the Mind’s Creative Play

Embrace your dreams as validation of your inborn creative talents. The creativity with which our minds weave a dream is nothing short of extraordinary – find ways to celebrate your creativity, rather than taking dreams too literally. When you take time to explore what the different people and elements of your dream might mean to you, you force yourself to think creatively about your dreams’ meanings for your real life.

4. Dreams Can Have Multilayered Symbolism

Different people in dreams can be representations of themselves or others like them in real life, or can be manifestations of aspects of your own personality. For example, your mother in your dream can represent your actual mother, someone in your life that acts like your mother, and parts of your personality that are like your mother. So when you think about the people in your dreams, look to consider each element.

Likewise, places, objects, and experiences can be straightforward, or could represent more abstract concepts in your life. For example, the experience of flying is a common dream and might represent having been on a plane lately, but could also represent a longing for freedom, the thrill of soaring above others, and a sense being invincible. Having a dream of flying can mean you are longing to feel such freedom, or that you are already feeling that way in some aspect of your life. The trick is to harness the feelings that resonate in a dream and use them to access associations that make sense to you in your own life.

Ask yourself how your dream telling you about something you want, something you are afraid of, or something you are trying to deal with?

Most of all, try to relax and get loose in your thinking when you begin interpreting your dreams. Allow yourself the space to play with your interpretations, and trust your initial instincts.

Dreaming may be one of life’s greatest adventures and greatest escapes. And like with all things in life, if we can make it fun, we can make it happen!

Looking for more help in understanding relationship anxiety? Learn more about my book Hack Your Anxiety and access free tools to help you manage the fear and anxiety going around the world today.

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD