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Cheat Sheet

Dream Dictionary For Dummies

From Dream Dictionary For Dummies by Penney Peirce

Your dreams are trying to tell you something. If you can interpret your dreams, they offer you greater self-awareness, knowledge, and success. Don't overlook the details in your dreams — messages may be lurking there. Keep a dream diary to uncover themes and insight in your dreams. Study the meanings of common dreams, because they represent situations most people experience at some point in life.

The Importance of Detail in Your Dreams

Be conscious of the details in your dreams. Recording them in your dream diary can trigger insights into what problems your brain is trying to resolve and make the meaning of your dreams more evident.

Look for the following details in your dreams that you may otherwise gloss over:

  • What are the key elements of the dream?

    • How would you describe the dream structure?

    • What were the main scenes and settings in the dream?

    • Was there a sense of time or direction?

    • How was the dream lit?

    • What was your viewpoint?

    • What characters were present?

    • What were the primary images, objects, symbols, or patterns?

    • Did numbers occur in the dream?

  • What are the motivations?

    • What actions were taken, and by whom?

    • What choices or decisions were made, and by whom?

    • What outcomes were reached?

    • At what speed was the action occurring?

    • What statements were made?

    • What was left incomplete?

    • What impressions did you have about the dream while dreaming?

  • What are the feelings?

    • What feelings did you or other characters have?

    • What senses were you using to perceive?

  • How is each part about you?

    • What do you have in common with each symbol and character?

    • How do the emotions, decisions, and actions parallel something in your own life?

How to Keep a Dream Diary

A dream diary helps you monitor your dreams and discover themes or how your dreams have become true or insightful. Make the most of your dreams by following these tips for an insightful dream journal:

  • Personalize your diary: It can be neat and tidy, a large sketchbook with no lines, a simple spiral-bound book, or even a computer.

  • Use your diary effectively: Your diary is a record of what's going on in the hidden dimensions of your life. You can use it for more than just recording dreams:

    • Write about your dream goals and your dream-sabotaging ideas.

    • Examine your sleep pattern and cycles.

    • Collect images from magazines, books, flyers, and so on that trigger dreams and make collages, diagrams, and illustrations with those images.

    • Write or copy inspirational quotes, poetry, and prayers.

    • Write about waking dreams, dream fragments, and single symbols.

    • Write the date of each dream and put a star next to important dreams.

    • Write in the present tense, recording as many details as you can.

    • Document your dream incubation statements.

    • Write about dream images that have carried over from the previous day and what happens in the days after an important dream.

  • Write even if no dreams come: Commit to writing something every day to make your diary more effective. Here are some ideas:

    • Write about your emotional state.

    • Invent a dream character, dream locale, and a dream theme.

10 Common Dreams and Their Meanings

You've probably experienced one of these ten dreams in your life; they focus on themes universal to most of us. By working with the inner messages in common dreams, you can maximize your confidence, creativity, and effectiveness in waking life.

My teeth are falling out!

If your teeth are dirty, diseased, disintegrating, or falling out in your dreams, you're probably worrying about how pleasing and attractive you are to others and to sexual and romantic partners. You may be afraid of getting old. Teeth also relate to self-expression and effective communication, so losing teeth can mean you're embarrassed about something you've said, or you're having trouble saying what you really mean.

The real essence of teeth is their ability to bite through, to cut, tear, and grind. As human animals, you retain a vestige of snarling — showing teeth as a "stay back" warning — in our disarming smile. If your teeth fall out, you lose personal power and your ability to be assertive, decisive, and self-protective.

You might ask yourself: Where do I lack confidence or feel powerless? With whom do I feel self-conscious or insecure? How am I angry or frustrated? Where should I take action to "bite through" something, or chew something thoroughly so I understand it?

I'm naked in public!

You're going about your business and suddenly realize you're naked or in your underwear at work or at the grocery store. Exposure dreams bring to light the things you don't want others to know about you and places where you feel vulnerable. Suddenly everyone sees through you. Being naked in front of others also implies being caught off guard or being unprepared, uninformed, uneducated, or unpracticed.

Try asking yourself: What have I been hiding? Where do I feel like a phony? What's wrong with being seen for whom I really am? Where do I feel invisible? Can I tolerate, or even love, my imperfections? Who am I afraid will reject me? What am I telling myself I need to be prepared for — for my own sake?

A monster is chasing me!

You're running, trying to outpace or outwit your pursuer, and he/she/it's gaining on you! Suddenly your legs are paralyzed! Chase dreams often represent fears of facing up to something you've judged negatively, like your own rage, shame, or irresponsibility, for example.

Or, you may feel threatened by someone or by a possible failure. If you become paralyzed, you probably need to stand still and meet your pursuer to receive an important message. Or, you may be experiencing the normal "paralysis" that occurs in the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep state.

Try asking yourself: What do I feel threatened by? What am I avoiding? Who have I given my power to? Where have I surrendered my right to "take up space"? Where do I feel helpless or unsupported? How do I deal with conflict?

I'm in my childhood home; it has new rooms!

Houses are symbols of the self, so returning to an old house means you are looking back at an old way of being, past habits, identities you've held, and outdated concepts you've been operating from. Perhaps you need to bring repressed memories to the surface to be healed.

Trying to live in an old house that might be too small for you now, or seeing things that need repair, means you're becoming conscious of how much you've grown and what you're renovating in yourself. When your old house has new rooms, you've added new talents, experiences, people, and components to your life.

You might ask yourself: What parts of my house need refurbishing? Am I comfortable in this space? Which room is my favorite? What do the new rooms symbolize?

I'm making love with a movie star!

Sex dreams are often about merging several aspects of yourself together, or loving a part of yourself you've judged or rejected. Sex with a celebrity can mean you want more visibility, self-worth, and recognition, or you are activating qualities in yourself represented by the famous person.

Sex with an authority figure like a professor, doctor, or boss, can show how it feels to have greater power and knowledge so you can be more effective in the world. Sex with a foreigner or someone of another race might mean you are integrating the character traits of that culture or racial consciousness into your personality. Sex with someone of your own gender may simply show you how to better accept and love yourself.

You might ask yourself: What quality or experience am I activating in myself? What do I admire about this lover that is a key to a new ability of mine?

I lost my wallet and keys!

Dreams of loss point to areas where you are too attached to something; you are telling yourself, "Let go and see what comes next when you don't have it all locked down." Losing your wallet can indicate it's time to reexamine your identity. Losing your car may mean you need to look at your need for movement, freedom, and independence as you've defined it. Losing keys points to a fear of losing authority or access to an opportunity. Losing money can mean you're letting go of what's been valuable to you so you can revalue your core self.

Ask yourself: How have I outgrown ideas of who I am? Where do I need to let go and trust the unknown part of myself to provide for me? Where do I need to experience space and emptiness instead of clutter?

I'm taking a test and didn't study!

You have an exam and can't find the room, you are late, or haven't studied. You're in a play and forgot your lines. Performance anxiety dreams point to areas in your life where you feel judged by others or unprepared for a challenge. You fear if you don't do well, you'll be rejected and ridiculed.

If the setting is academic, you probably need to pay attention to new knowledge or to a lesson that's part of your personal growth process. If it's a play or a keynote lecture, you may be ready to express yourself more fully, to be more articulate and confident in the world.

You might ask yourself: What new opportunity do I want but don't feel ready for? How could I feel adequately prepared? How do I feel I might let others down? Who has expectations of me and who am I afraid of not pleasing?

I found money or jewels!

Dreams about finding valuables operate on several levels. You may be awash in debt, fear that you'll never have enough, or that you'll lose what you have. You want to feel lucky, abundant, influential, and rich, so you try it out in your dreams.

Under these worries often lurks a deeper fear — that you don't deserve to be loved, supported, or cared for. Your deep self is showing you what it feels like to be blessed. Gaining money or valuables really means you're gaining in emotional well-being, confidence, and power. You may be preparing to increase your creativity and abundance level, to feel that having more is normal.

Try asking yourself: Who gave me the money or valuables? What or who does this person represent to me? Where did I find the valuables and what do the place and kind of item represent to me? What's my attitude as I receive: greedy, worried, egocentric? How do I act after I've received: powerful, generous, relaxed?

I'm having surgery on my eyes, brain, heart, or . . . !

Hospital and surgery dreams are often symbolic of a fundamental change you're making in the way you live, the way you work with energy and run your body, and how you construct your identity and world view. On rare occasions, they are warnings about actual health problems, or they indicate you're exhausted and need to rest and be cared for so you can shift to a new phase of self-expression.

You may need to get something out of your system, change your habits, move to a new location, or release a person from your life. You may need to open yourself to emotional healing and new experiences. If you experience anesthesia in the dream, you're probably avoiding your feelings, worries, or responsibilities. If you're bleeding profusely in the dream or feel actual pain, you are telling your conscious mind that part of you feels out of control, severely drained, and mortally wounded by trauma or cruelty.

Try asking yourself: What or who has caused me to feel so wounded and helpless? Why am I focusing on this particular area of my body? What are the surgeons doing to help me? Is there a change occurring in my subtle energy body? After I heal, what will I be capable of doing? How is the pattern of my awareness changing?

My car won't stop or go!

"Difficulty with your vehicle" dreams usually arise when events in your waking life seem out of control, you feel powerless over something, or are afraid you're about to fail or "crash." Your car is rolling backwards, the brakes won't work, you're trying to steer from the back seat, the tires are flat, the ignition doesn't catch. Vehicles are symbols for the way you move through experiences in your life. Cars, motorcycles, bicycles, buses, or trains represent physical experience and your body; boats signify emotional experience; planes connect you to mental experience; and rockets and UFOs represent spiritual levels.

Once you see what level of yourself you're focusing on, determine whether you are the driver or passenger. This shows how you feel about being able to direct your own life. Driving from the back seat means you need to step up and be more responsible. Someone else driving means you've given your authority away. Next, look at how the vehicle is functioning. Problems indicate problems you may have in real life. The steering or brakes don't work: you're going too fast and are about to make a big mistake. The tires on the right side are flat: you're afraid to move forward and take new actions. The starter won't work: you need to renew your motivation and passion.

Try asking yourself: In what area do I feel disabled or powerless? Who did I give power to? How am I out of control? What in my life needs to work properly? What can I do to move freely?

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