It is common to dismiss dreaming as mere fantasy, but they can actually show a lot about your current mental state, emotions, stress levels, as well as your subconscious worries, desires, and aspirations. There is plenty of evidence to support dreams as a tool for self-analysis.
That said, most modern neuroscientists see dreams as a collection of random memories, which our brains attempt to understand by turning them into a semi-coherent narrative.
Nonetheless, dreams do hold meaning, and the way in which your brain turns thoughts and memories into stories says a lot about you. But how can you interpret your own dreams? What tools can you use to analyze such vague, transitory, and illogical experiences? To help you with your own dreams, let’s take a look at a few steps and useful tips for interpreting your dreams:
Write Down Everything
When you first wake up, you can often remember the previous night’s dreams with perfect clarity. However, within a few hours (or even minutes), you’ll find that your ability to recall many aspects of your dreams fades; previously vivid images become vague, or even impossible to remember.
This is why it is so important to write down everything you remember about your dreams as soon as you wake up. If you don’t, you could end up losing those memories forever. So, before you go to bed, make sure to have a pen and paper nearby. The moment you wake up, start writing down everything you can recall from your night’s sleep.
It may sound like a difficult task (especially since you might be groggy), but you’ll find that the more you do it, the more it becomes second nature.
Search For Patterns in Dreams
Once you’ve recorded at least a week’s worth of dreams, you might begin to see patterns emerge. Do you frequently dream about someone important in your life? Are your dreams generally upbeat and enjoyable, or do they feel more like nightmares? Does certain imagery repeatedly come to your mind when you sleep? Asking yourself these questions and connecting the dots between separate dreams will help you see when patterns emerge.
For example, if a particular person frequently appears in your dreams, this could mean several different things, depending on the context of the dreams. You might be greatly concerned about this person, or they may simply be an important part of your life. You will need to evaluate how this person relates to the rest of your dream’s “story” to understand why they are there.
It’s important to note that important imagery is not just limited to people. Shapes and colors can have special meaning as well. If you frequently dream about the color black, it could mean that you are preoccupied with death or the unknown, while dreaming about blue might mean that you are feeling sad.
Alternatively, some colors are associated with more positive emotions; gold is generally associated with feelings of comfort, while green signifies physical well-being.
Evaluate Your Waking Life
Now that you’ve recorded your dreams and found patterns between them, you can begin to see how they relate to your waking life. This is one of the primary reasons that people want to learn more about their dreams. We dream about seemingly illogical things, and we want to know what they say about our mood, our mental state, our relationships, and our lives in general.
That said, making a connection between dreams and your life is not easy. After all, most of them are not linear or coherent, but they can still be analyzed for their meaning. You don’t need to be an expert symbologist or psychoanalyst to understand dreams, either.
All you need to do is take an objective look at your life. Are you generally happy? Are your relationships fulfilling? Do you find yourself frequently worrying about money or social obligations? Do you feel yourself “going through the motions?” Once you can honestly answer these types of questions, you will be able to make connections to the events and imagery in your dreams.
Discuss Your Dreams With Others
Everyone in your life may not want to hear about your dreams, but if you have a close friend or loved one that you trust, feel free to share the contents of your dreams with them. They may be able to provide useful insight about how your dreams connect to your life. This is actually more important than you may realize, because many people have a difficult time looking at their lives objectively; getting a second opinion can help you put things into perspective.
Even seemingly mundane, innocuous dreams can hold deeper meaning when examined closely. For example, let’s say that you have a dream in which you are falling. This will probably be quite exciting (or frightening), depending on your mood.
However, it also signifies something much deeper about your life. If you feel that you are falling and unable to stop, it might mean that you feel that your life is out of control. You might think that you have no ability to change important aspects of your life.
However, falling in a dream could also mean that you are seeking more adventure. Often times, when dreams feel thrilling or exciting, it is because you feel a lack of excitement in your waking life. Look at how your mind frames the act of “falling” to see what it means. Is falling fun in the dream, or does it feel more like a nightmare?
Consider Using A Diary
Finally, though keeping a dream journal is the best way to remember your dreams, it won’t help you remember your thoughts and feelings during the day. For this, you should try to keep a regular diary, documenting changes in your mood and important (or unimportant) life events.
It is especially important to record how you are feeling before you go to sleep and when you wake up. Your mood before and after sleeping is one of the strongest determinants of your dream content.
While interpreting and evaluating dreams is not an exact science, it is completely possible. That said, it is also a highly personalized activity. Your dreams are specific to you and you alone. So, the better you understand yourself, your aspirations, and your feelings, the better you can interpret your dreams.