Susana has a background in Psychology and Counseling and a special interest in dream interpretation.
Understanding & Interpreting Your Dream Symbols
Understanding your dream meanings to the fullest, is a wonderful way to get in touch with your innermost self and become your own best friend.
How many times have you woken up and found yourself asking, "Where did that come from?" Why on earth have I dreamed about rabid dogs, leaves growing out of my arms, a blue pig, cleaning toilets, being pricked by a needle, snakes, pigeons etc etc etc..... ?
Well, dream symbols may be weird, confusing, shocking and sometimes frightening, but they do appear for a purpose. In my view, that purpose is for our own personal growth, development and self awareness.
The first thing to realize - and you intuitively know this, is that the symbols that appear in your dreams are NOT RANDOM.
Each and every one has been selected by your mind (or soul, higher self) to give you information about something pertinent to you - to give you an opportunity for healing and self discovery.
Once you understand what the symbol means you will see the logic of why it appeared in the first place and you will gain an insight into the bizarre, but oddly comprehensible world of dream language.
If you're a beginner, you can find out more about the language of dreams and the ways that symbols are represented in my article How to Interpret the Meaning of Your Dream.
So let's start demystifying the whole subject of dream interpretation and start understanding those strange symbols that have been appearing in your dreams!
How to Interpret Any Dream Symbol
You do not need to be psychic to understand dreams. You just need practical and usable steps that you can immediately incorporate into your life.
I'm hoping you will find this guide easy to follow, down to earth and informative, and after reading it you may wonder why dream interpretation was such a mystery before!
There are four main elements to interpreting dream symbols and I've called this the 4 step technique.
This system will enable you to quickly and easily understand, connect to, and interpret, any symbol that appears in your dreams.
I developed this technique by systematically breaking down the process I was intuitively using to interpret my own and my clients dream symbols.
I felt people needed a simplified and reliable way to gain access to the depth of meaning and significance that their dream symbols were trying to relate and the 4 step technique was the end result.
I will show you how to use these four elements, and as we go through the process, I have included an example of a real dream symbol to aid your understanding.
The first time you do this it may take you 5 or 10 minutes but the more frequently you do it, the less time it will take you, and after a short while it will become almost automatic.
So get your pen and paper ready and let's get started!
The Interpretation Technique Explained
Step one - Identify the symbol
The first thing to do is identify the symbol and write it down. Don’t have a discussion with yourself about why this symbol has appeared, just accept it!
A dream I interpreted recently featured a big, black bull. The client couldn't understand why the bull was there, so I asked the question - Why a bull, not a mouse, giraffe or duck billed platipus?
The reason is because the dream was about the clients' relationship to his personal power and no other symbol would have been right.
The symbol you want to understand will also be “just right” for your dream's message to you.
Step two - What words/adjectives come to mind when you think of the symbol?
If we stay with the symbol of a bull as an example. Words that may come to mind could range from strong, powerful and masculine to bullish, overconfident and forceful.
The client used the word, "powerful" to describe what the bull symbolised for him.
Now write down a one or two words that come to mind when you think of your dream symbol.
Step three - What emotion/s do you feel when you think of this symbol?
The emotion will tell you a great deal about what the symbol means for you. Using the example of a bull again, you could feel reverence, admiration, submissive, indifferent, angry, awe, disgust.....the list is almost endless.
The client felt extremely scared of the bull.
Now for your symbol. Write down the main emotions you feel toward the symbol.
Bringing the Dream Elements Together
This is what the man who had the dream with the symbol of a bull would have written down.
Big, black bull + powerful + scared = the bull represents my fear of being powerful.
The dream in it's entirety was about the client developing his own personal power, coming to terms with it and using it for his benefit in his life.
The reason feeling powerful was so fearful for the client was because he had grown up with a very powerful, scary and abusive father and had vowed to never be like him. Therefore, he had completely denied that he had a part of himself that was powerful.
Denying this part of himself had resulted in on-going feelings of impotence, despair and depression. So while the dream was unpleasant, his mind was using this symbol to let him know that he was causing himself harm and give him an opportunity to remedy this.
Now do the same “sum” for your dream symbol and find out what it means for you!
The main things to remember are that you can relate every adjective that you would use to describe the symbol, to yourself, a part of yourself or a facet of your belief system.
The feeling describes your emotion so accept it and own it.
By breaking down the symbol into it's component parts it becomes easy to understand the personal meaning it has for you.
I'm sure you will find this is a far more beneficial and accurate method of interpreting your dream symbols as compared to relying on a dream dictionary where the symbols have generalized, rather than personalized, meanings and the symbol descriptions are totally out of the context of dream story.
Just an open mind and heart and a few easily learned tools will enable you to interpret any of your dreams or nightmares accurately.
© 2009 Susana Smith
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 09, 2015:
You're welcome. It did help me a little bit and sure beats an outline. If it worked for Stephanie Myers a decade ago, why not us? Right?
Susana Smith (author) from UK on March 09, 2015:
Thanks Kristen. I'm glad you enjoyed it :) I used to write my dreams down religiously but now I just don't get the time. Maybe when my kids are all grown I will get a chance again. I love your idea of using your dreams to inspire story writing - has it been successful for you? I had a similar idea and wrote a children's book (as yet unpublished) based on a character who went to different worlds during his dreams and then used the knowledge he learned to help him and those around him in real life.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on February 26, 2015:
Great hub, Susana. This is so useful and informative. I used to have a dream journal to go with my dream cards with different archetypes and symbolic meanings. I believe I still have my stack of cards, if I haven't thrown them out lately. Lately, I've been having novel ideas for Nano for the past decade and used my dream plotlines to write it out.
Susana Smith (author) from UK on May 01, 2014:
Look at what the function of the dream might be. You love him still and you'd probably love for him to ask you to get married right? Sounds like a wish fulfillment dream to me :)
Jacqueline on April 18, 2014:
I still don't quite understand.
I had a dream in were my ex boyfriend and the guy I still love told me that we can finally get married. I felt happiness and love. My biggest emotion was Happiness. I'm so confused
Susana Smith (author) from UK on January 05, 2013:
Thanks Pam. I use the same method for interpreting physical signs :)
Pam on December 26, 2012:
I have been getting symbols for over a year now. I was wondering how to interpret them. I very rarely got them in dreams but they keep repeating over and over. I am assuming they are physical signs which my intuition is giving me. I tried applying the same method to my physical symbols and now the meaning is getting clear to me. I just wanted to know if we apply the same method for physical signs? Or does that apply to only the dreams?
creepydream on October 07, 2012:
I still can't figure out my dream, the dream goes like this I am walking down a hallway and there is a banana peel on the ground i slip and i wake up sweating heart beating eyes feeling like there bugging out of my head and my bed creeks like i jumped on it
pebbles on June 14, 2012:
I keep having weird dreams about turtles and dolphins! The dolphins are in shallow water... and are mostly always doing nothing but rolling! I'm petting them while they roll,but am weary of my hands going in the water to touch them... (not scared) ya know. I'm in the water with them but can't figure out why they keep rolling! Yellow frogs are jumping from water to land.... and red turtles are coning into the water! Any ideas on what any of this means? If anyone has a hypothesis on the interpretation please throw it at me! :)
chad Wilkinson on April 29, 2012:
Dreamed i busted over a women and my wife found out the women turned into a child sitting in a closet it scared me absquare could not move but felt awake please help
Bonitaanna from Oil City, PA on April 18, 2012:
I am so thrilled to have found your site. Now maybe I can make some heads or tails out of my dreams. I really do have some weard ones sometimes. Thanks for taking the time to write about it, I find it so facinating.
Miss dale Elizabeth Evans on January 12, 2012:
This guy is a solo artist and in a band in real life. And has agents working for him in real life. But in my dream he was there when me and my kids whent to see another band . And asked me to go for a meal and his agents looked after my kids and I acsedentley noked a glass over and he sead don't worry about that and people that wore working for him cleand it up. And Ive meat him and still have these emoticons for him and it's the same emotshions that I have for him in my dream. What dose this mean ?!
Mae Williams from USA on November 15, 2011:
Interesting. I can do some dream interpretation. I think being intuitive helps too. Dreams tell us a lot of the things we have unresolved. great hub!
annie on September 20, 2011:
I want your help.A couple of few days back I dreamed about a person and in that dream I felt as if i really like that person.That person was no one important but since that day I can't get that person out of my mind.I don't understand that.It's been years since I saw that person.I knew that person way back when I was a kid.
benmoore on September 01, 2011:
Agree with you completely, great write up!
msorensson on January 04, 2011:
Yes, indeed. There is only one person who can interpret your dream. You.
kaja_mel from Saraland, AL on May 14, 2010:
Great article, I enjoyed reading it.
hubchief - pen name from United States on February 04, 2010:
A beautiful composition... need to read full...
Susana Smith (author) from UK on December 15, 2009:
Cath - I am so pleased to hear that you found your dream symbols meaning by using this technique! It works really well but I do get kind of despairing that the majority of visitors to my website just want someone to tell them what their dream means, when in most cases it's simple enough to do for yourself.
You've made my day - thankyou!
cathinfrance on December 14, 2009:
Erkk. I just tried it and it immediately showed me what a recent dream meant. I can't tell you because it's too personal! But it instantly unlocked the meaning. Gave me a BIG surprise about the way I really feel about a family issue but I recognised the validity of the dream interpretation straight away.
Susana Smith (author) from UK on September 18, 2009:
Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to have a read and leave a comment. I must admit it did take me ages to work out the steps to interpreting dream symbols that I was using intuitively, but it's certainly worthwhile when people say they appreciate the approach! Thanks again :)
Tom Cornett from Ohio on September 17, 2009:
Cool hub...connecting dreams the way you describe really makes sense....thanks! :)
BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on September 11, 2009:
I love dream interpretation and have done it myself. Here, a million years later and friends will still ask me.
This is great how you broke it down in parts so dreamers can do it themselves!
I can forward this to friends. Thanks!
LilianEden on August 06, 2009:
Thank you Susana! I am joyful over the fact that you are speaking about dreams! I will be holding Dream Work Saloons to really educate people on how wonderful this tool can be in their lives! Thank you for the comment and feed-back you left - we do have much in common! I will be starting Tarot-Astro Forecasts upcoming! Stay tuned! With love and much light,
Rajinder Soni from New Delhi, India on July 02, 2009:
I enjoyed reading this hub today Susana. You have incredible knowledge of dream interpretation. Thanks for showing me the right path.
Susana Smith (author) from UK on May 27, 2009:
I like your intuition about this............:)
Rob Welsh from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time. on May 26, 2009:
Intuition is very interesting.. it has saved my life.. keep on this track.... I have a feeling it will do well for you lol
wordscribe41 on May 26, 2009:
Yes, you answered my request about getting my 1st grader out of Pull-Ups. Great advice, by the way.
Susana Smith (author) from UK on May 25, 2009:
Glad you enjoyed it! I wasn't aware of answering your request but I'm very happy to oblige :) I think dream dictionaries have their place for giving ideas and sometimes pointers about what a symbol means when we are really stuck, but they should be used with caution and never replace an individuals power to connect to their dreams on a personal level. Some of the interpretations I've seen in dream dictionaries are completely insane and aren't going to help anyone interpret their dream accurately.
Thanks for your comment!
wordscribe41 on May 24, 2009:
Excellent article. I totally agree interpretation must be left to the individual. A lot of people think symbols have the same meaning for everyone. Thanks for the hub. And thanks for answering my request!