Dream Symbolism is a Highly Personal Matter

A great number of books have been written about dreams and dream interpretation. Many of them offer generalized meanings for various dream symbols – i.e., "horses refer to male sexuality," "arrows are the phallus," etc. Similarly, online searches on the topic of dreams will lead predominantly to "dream dictionaries" that have cut-and-dry translations for virtually any sort of dream motif imaginable.

Because so much of human experience is universal, and because our internal makeup is very similar regardless of our conditioning, there is oftentimes some validity to these literal dream interpretations. As social creatures we have reached a certain consensus about the nature of reality; and this can be reflected also in our inner experience. At the same time, however, we are all individuals and our dreaming life originates from a core intimate place within us. Our dreams are highly personal and pertinent messages intended for us, and so they speak in a way in which we are uniquely equipped to hear.

Dream symbolism is tailored to fit the dreamer. Dreams of water, for example, will evoke one kind of emotional response for a person who loves swimming and quite a different one for a person who carries troubling memory associations, such as of a loved one who drowned. A lot of confusion can be created, therefore, if both of these hypothetical people applied the same generic dream symbol definitions to their water dreams.

dream interpretation There is a magical sort of give-and-take that exists between our waking and dreaming lives. Our dreams can help us to understand ourselves; and the better we understand ourselves the easier it will be for us to read our dreams. The emotions evoked by any given dream can be your strongest keys to unlocking its meaning, and this is something that no dictionary of dream symbols can reveal. Just as a feeling of sadness, if accepted and listened to, can lead you to the source of a disturbance, so can the emotional echoes left behind by a dream help you to unravel its messages. Again, those messages will be highly tailored and personal. "Fire" will have quite a different connotation in a dream depending upon whether it evokes feelings of comfort or fear, for example.

It is possible to gain some general understanding of dreams and their meanings by perusing the various directories that are available both in print and online. If we want to more deeply explore the personal messages that our dreams may have for us, however, then we must examine our own beliefs, thoughts and emotions and see how these aspects of our internal makeup relate to our dream images. Ultimately, you’ll have to trust your own judgment over that of any author or therapist, because no one else knows your personal associations like you do. Accept those outside answers that resonate with what you know inside, and reject those that don’t. The meaning of our lives is what we make of them, and the same can be said of our dreams. In short, Dream Interpretation is a personal process.

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