Every dreamer’s dream has a personal meaning. A dream dictionary can shine some light on probable interpretations, but ultimately you have to intuitively work out what your dreams mean to you. It will depend on your background, circumstances and emotional state and the issues you are facing in your waking world. No two people will have the exact same issues and life circumstances, therefore dream symbols will vary from person to person. No matter what nationality, gender or social status we have, our dreams have common, universal themes and sequences. Jung called it the collective unconscious; that is, we are linked intuitively and we share emotional states through dreaming. Following are some methods of undertaking your own dream interpretation.

Remember: it’s your dream and it is unique to you.

Describe the dream.

Write down in as much detail as possible all the elements of your dream. Particularly note the settings, people and animals, objects, feelings and actions in the dream.

Relate the dream to someone or retell it to yourself.

Edit the dream a little to bring out the main theme. The words you use may trigger the meaning and theme of the image. Give the dream a book title if you think it will help. Look at the emotions in the dream and compare those feeling to how you are feeling in everyday life.

Make connections to real-life images or situations.

Does the theme remind you of anything or anyone in your life, or does it remind you of any part of yourself? Read the dreams of the past week two or three times to consolidate the lessons or insights.

Ask each dream image questions.

For example, ask a car why it is driving so fast and recklessly; or ask a house what it is doing in the middle of the forest; or ask water why it is trying to drown you? See what each part of the dream tells you.

If it were my dream . . .

This technique involves telling your dreams to friends so they can interpret it by saying: ‘If it were my dream I’d be asking why I drove faster than usual in the bomb of a car when I have a really good car in real life.’ Having other people own your dream will give you some new insights you hadn’t considered.

Practice interpreting your dreams to increase your understanding.

Make up a little codebook for yourself. For example, every time I move house I dream of a dragon, or when I dream of a snake I usually meet up with someone from the past I don’t like. Only your subconscious knows what your dreams mean to you.


Following are some of the most common life themes to show up in the dream world.


Dreams shine a light on how you interact with those around you, problems with relationships and ways to enhance and promoting loving and healthy relationships. Dreams may ask you to:

  • be aware of your interactions with those around you

face issues of intimacy and loss

identify negative or confusing emotions connected

  • with relationships
  • analyse sexual and infidelity issues.


Not smart enough, not attractive enough, not good enough . . .

Dreams will shine the light on issues around self-esteem and selfdevelopment.

You may discover dream symbols that will ask you to:

  • find ways of deeply appreciating and accepting yourself
  • identify negative habits and self-beliefs that are no longer needed
  • implement new strategies in your life to make yourself feel good.


Whether it’s the death of a loved one or the ‘death’ of a marriage, job or personal wish, any ending will have a huge effect on your psyche. Whatever is suppressed in your conscious life will be reenacted in your dreams. These sad and often confusing dreams may come up from your subconscious to acknowledge the loss you are experiencing and offer insight into how to:

  • resolve painful memories and find greater peace
  • gain insight into what’s causing you to grieve
  • connect to your intuitive self
  • help you understand the message in your dream, which will
  • give you strategies to cope.


Emotional stress is a major cause of physical and psychological illness. Your stress will be highlighted and exaggerated through anxiety dreams and nightmares, making you more aware of physical and emotional symptoms that need to be addressed in waking life so you can reprogram your behavioural responses to improve your life. Your dreams may be gently communicating to you so you will be empowered to:

  • identify symbols telling you to seek medical help
  • explore healing on an emotional level
  • confront recurring dreams
  • understand dreams as a gateway to your subconscious.

Note that your dreams can be affected by medication that will cause you to experience disturbing and frightening dreams that will make you fearful about falling asleep. It’s important you understand that the disturbing dreams are one of the side effects of taking the medication and you shouldn’t be too concerned, but do discuss it with your GP if you are overly worried.

Edited extract from Inside Your Dreams: An Advanced Guide to Your Night Visions by Rose Inserra (Rockpool Publishing $29.99), available where good books are sold and online at








Rose Inserra is the author of the recent book Dreams by Rockpool Publishing. Drawing on her experience as an author and researcher, she has written over 60 children’s books and her books are published and marketed internationally. Rose is a member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and appears regularly as a columnist in print media and as a guest speaker on radio. For a review copy or to speak with Rose please contact me.







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