There is a common myth that the components of our dreams mean something exclusively specific. Sadly you can’t Google the meaning of your dream and find a legitimate response. Dream analysis doesn’t work that way.
Let’s say you dream about a mansion.
- This is not a sign that you will come into money and buy a big house.
- It’s possible you drove past a big house and your mind has recalled the image.
- It’s possible it’s symbolic of success, but it doesn’t end there. Read on.
When something enters our dream, it happens for one of two reasons. Either we were directly exposed to this stimuli recently and our brain has represented it, something we did that day, saw on TV this week, read about in the news etc. Or, it has been represented for symbolic reason. Our unconscious brain can’t organised it’s thoughts in a neat and orderly way, like our conscious mind, it’s much more impulsive.
With each thing presented in a dream we have to understand the unique symbolism for the individual. Let’s say you asked 5 wide awake, conscious people what a mansion means to them, they might say:
- vast / big / grand – concerned with size
- important / royalty / elite – concerned with status
- personal goal / achievement / aspirations – concerned with future
- spooky / haunted / burglary – concerned with invasion
- home / house / family – concerned with connection
Suddenly you can see how there are many possible connections. If we were then to say and what else did you dream and the person said frogs, you’d add a second layer. So if you asked those five people what frogs mean to them, they might say:
- Cute little creatures / endearing – concerned with fondness
- Full of life / springy – concerned with vitality
- Disgusting / grotesque – concerned with disgust
- Green / vibrant – concerned with brightness
- Amphibian / the need for water to survive – concerned with hydration
Imagine that any person could literally state any association to any given thing, any combination becomes possible:
- Size + Fondness
- Size + Disgust
- Status + Vitality
- Invasion + hydration
- Connection + Disgust
Most dreams have many number of components and therefore many associations. It’s the unique combination of these associations that form a full symbolic meaning. This information paired with what a person is processing consciously, therefore forms tangible dream analysis.
It’s not sufficient to pair a dream with one generalised symbolic meaning because it’s not contextually relevant. If I Google ‘what does it mean when I dream about a fish’, it tells me it’s likely to be a positive dream about fertility or growth. Yet I might have a phobia of fish, the fish might represent my dad (if he was a fisherman), I may have had a near death drowning accident as a child, the list goes on and on. The dream is only relevant and symbolic to the dreamer and the real meaning and message can only be uncovered if analysed correctly.
Once a genuine connection has been established, you can seek to understand how you really feel and why your unconscious presented this specific set of messages. Dreams usually occur because you are internally unsettled about something, even if you have no conscious awareness of what that might be.
Sigmund Freud’s most famous dream analysis was in relation to a client now known as ‘Wolf Man’. The man had been having a recurring nightmare about lying in bed, seeing white wolves sitting on the branches of a tree outside his window. After much analysis together, they established the dream was symbolic of the man having been traumatised be seeing his parents having intercourse when he was five.
No dream reference-aid will ever dedude this for you. It’s only with deep exploration of our unique symbolic representations that we’ll ever discover what’s tucked away in our unconscious.