Although we don’t know exactly where dreams come from, many researchers and psychoanalysts believe our dreams are trying to tell us something. Freud and Jung proposed that all dreams contain information that can help us in our waking lives. Deciphering this information, however, can be tricky because messages are usually encoded in symbols. Here are some common symbols that show up in most people’s dreams and mean pretty much the same thing for everyone.
A house usually represents you and the various facets of your existence. The basement signifies your unconscious, instinctual side; the ground floor describes your everyday living situation and ego; upper floors indicate spiritual awareness or mental activity. Individual rooms have meanings similar to their functions in waking life––a kitchen suggests nourishment, a bathroom cleansing, and so on. Finding an unknown room in the house means discovering a hidden ability. The condition of the house is important, too. A dilapidated building suggests your life needs fixing up; a crumbling foundation indicates your support system is weak or deteriorating. Conversely, a large, elegant house depicts a rich, full, healthy life––or that you are moving in this direction.
A car generally signifies how you travel through life’s journey and/or your physical body. Look at who is driving the car. If it’s not you, who is it? Then ask yourself why you’re letting someone else pilot your life––is it time to take back the wheel? A friend of mine often dreams he can’t see out the windshield when he’s driving. This person doesn’t have much direction in his life and hasn’t established clear goals for himself. The dream describes his situation accurately: he can’t see where he’s going. I once dreamed I was driving dangerously fast and wrecked my car. My dream was warning me that if I didn’t stop pushing myself so hard I could damage my health.
Water usually symbolizes emotions. If you find yourself swimming or immersed in water it could mean your emotions play a large part in your life. Look at the state of the water. Rough water suggests turbulent emotions. Muddy water indicates murky feelings; clear, sparkling water corresponds to a happy, balanced emotional state. Deep water or a large body of water describes powerful feelings.
Sex dreams usually mean the masculine and feminine sides of yourself are united and working creatively together. Or, these dreams may urge you to dissolve barriers between yin and yang. Look at your partner in the dream––what does this person represent to you? Your dream shows you are successfully merging with the qualities symbolized by your dream partner.
Dying in a dream rarely means physical death. Instead, it points to a transition and shows that part of you or something in your life is dying to make room for something new. If you dream someone else has died, ask yourself what characteristics you associate with that person––these show what’s passing out of your life.
Giving birth in a dream generally means something new is entering your life or that you’re beginning a new phase. This dream can also signify creativity, fruitfulness, or the birth of an idea or opportunity.
Dream images may also have meanings that are unique to the dreamer. For example, a dream about redecorating a house usually means you’re reorganizing your life, but if you’re an interior designer, your creativity may just be working overtime. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a record of your dreams and list the major symbols that appear in them, especially the ones that crop up again and again.