How to Figure Out What Your Dreams Really Mean
As soon as you wake up, write down everything you can recall about your dream, recording as many objects, people and locations as possible. Says Smaller, "One of Freud's greatest discoveries was that tiny elements of your dreams can point to big issues. A lot of information gets condensed into a small detail."
Write down the association each detail carries for you. For example, if the dream took place in your childhood home, consider what's significant about that place and how it might relate to the larger premise of the dream.
Write down the emotions the dream sparked. Were you exhilarated, afraid, upset, giddy? How about when you woke up?
Ask yourself what else in your life inspires these same emotions. For example, if your childhood home reminds you of being bullied by your older brother, think about what's happening in your life now that parallels that experience.
Return to your list of associations and try to combine them into a single narrative. (Your childhood home reminds you of being bullied.... The orange you were eating reminds you of Florida.... Your boss, who grew up in Miami, was pretty aggressive with you in that meeting yesterday....) Then go forth into your waking life armed with greater insight into what's going on in your head.
To kick-start your analysis, Smaller shares the meanings of three common dreams...