The Limitations of Dream Dictionaries
There are many resources available offering quick, straightforward interpretations of dreams in a simple format such as a dream dictionary. Some resources draw from common imagery; for example seeing a dog in a dream would generally be interpreted to represent friendship or loyalty – “a man’s best friend.” Other resources reference numerology, religious texts, mysticism and folklore; for example the number three could be interpreted to represent the holy trinity.
While these resources can be helpful, they fail to take into account the unique nature of the subconscious. Our sleeping minds do not care about externally imposed connotations. To best understand a dream, we must understand our subjective, intuitive connotations with the elements of the dream.
To return to the dog example, imagine a dreamer had once been chased by a dog as a child. In this case, the dog may represent a physical or abstract attack. If the dreamer owns many dogs, a dog may represent the everyday comforts of being at home. If the dreamer had a dog that passed away, a dog could represent the past and what has been lost with time.
To avoid being influenced by standardized, rigid interpretations of dreams, and possibly missing out on some insightful reflection, first look at your dreams and what they mean to you. Go through every possible image, object, activity, and appearance from your dream, one at a time, and pay close attention to your instant reaction to that element. The feeling that pops into your mind in that first split second of considering an element of a dream will be the closest mentally you will get to mimicking the subconscious thought processes of a dream. You know your own mind more than anyone; when it comes to your dreams, self-reflection can be far more perceptive than the longest of dictionaries.