Is it okay to dream big?

Interpreting dreams: 100+ symbols, images - and their meanings

Those who can interpret their dreams gain important insights for their lives. This also applies to dreams that don't seem to make sense. We dream up to six dreams a night. In some we fall, in others our teeth fall out, and still others are terrifying nightmares. But what's behind that? In fact, dreams don't always mean what they represent. We often have to think outside the box. We explain the most common dream symbols to you - and show you how you can interpret your dreams and apply them to everyday life ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Why do we dream at all?

Both psychology and sleep research deal with dreams. Sigmund Freud was convinced that when dreams indicate, important knowledge about suppressed desires and instincts is obtained. To this day, psychologists assume that dreams are a key to the subconscious. Means: While we sleep, we subconsciously deal with fears and problems. We process experiences that we may have suppressed during the day. In short: our brain learns while sleeping and with the help of dreams.

We know today from sleep researchthat clearly remembered dreams indicate poor sleep and thus lack of sleep or sleep disorders. Conversely: if you can't remember your dreams in the morning, you don't have to worry. Completely normal. According to studies by Perrine Ruby from the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, we only remember a dream after waking up if we wake up in the middle of it or immediately after it. A nightmare, for example.

Can you seriously interpret your dreams?

There is something esoteric about the dream. For some it seems like reading coffee grounds or myths from the realm of the imagination. But not true. Dreams reflect what concerns us - mentally and emotionally. They contain fears and longings as well as solutions to current problems. Because while we sleep, the brain continues to work. It combines knowledge and experience and forms (sometimes crude) dream images from them. But they can - if interpreted accordingly - provide us with important information.

Even in ancient times, people triedto interpret their world and the future with the help of dreams. Of course, the dream interpretation at that time actually resembled a look into the crystal ball. Today dream images are interpreted significantly differently - and less as a hint from the gods. In both cases, however, we are heading in the right direction: dreams are not just foams. It is true that they cannot be used to predict the future. Interpreting dreams is best suited to gain clarity for your own life, to draw conclusions and to clarify open questions or construction sites in life.

Dream symbols overview: 30 dream images & dream interpretation

Those who want to interpret their dreams cannot avoid classic dream images and symbols. Almost everyone dreams of the following images and signs in the course of their life. The most common dream images - in alphabetical order:

  • infant
    When interpreting dreams, flowers can be an indication of a desire to have children or a new beginning. Psychologically, the dream of being a baby yourself means that someone feels a great desire for security.
  • Flowers
    In general, flowers express beauty and relaxation. Psychologically, something (relationship, job) can be upset if you keep tending and fertilizing, but the plants wither.
  • blood
    Blood is the sap of life. Bloody injuries are painful and can be dangerous. In the dream interpretation, the dream of loss of blood represents a wounded soul. In turn, blood in the event of tooth loss heralds problems in life. Anyone who sees blood on others fears their illness or even the death of loved ones.
  • boss
    If you dream of a job and a boss, your work is currently very busy (or stressful). It is possible that you are working on a large project that is nearing completion. The associated pressure is reflected in the dreams. The desire to change jobs and growing dissatisfaction can also be behind this.
  • eat
    Eating is vital and associated with enjoyment. Psychologically, a dream about eating indicates that the dreaming lacks something elementary in the waking state.
  • Ex boyfriend
    If the ex-boyfriend or the ex-girlfriend appears in a dream, this can express longing for the former relationship. More often, however, such dreams symbolize a warning that you could fall back into old patterns of thought and behavior. Anyone who finds dreams of an ex-partner stressful could also carry around unresolved conflicts.
  • family
    Dreams about family represent the desire for security and security. In psychology, the following applies: If old conflicts break out in a dream, the dream represents concern for individual family members.
  • Falling
    The "fall dream" is a classic. We fall endlessly - and wake up shortly before the impact. Behind this is a strong feeling of powerlessness: Falling from a great height often indicates a loss of wealth or reputation. But helplessness only applies to dreams! While awake, you can do something and regain control of your life!
  • To fly
    Flying is an old dream of mankind. It stands for limitless freedom. Psychologically, the dream of it can also be a symbol of overconfidence. For example when someone flies too high. Those who dream of flying far away are in reality fleeing from pressing problems.
  • To cheat on
    The obvious reading would be that someone is about to do wrong. In dream research, however, cheating is more an encouragement to take one's own desires and needs more seriously and to act out.
  • Fire
    Fire has an ambivalent meaning: fire warms, but also has destructive power. For example, if your own home is on fire in a dream, major problems are signaled. When loved ones are on fire, something is wrong with the waking relationship.
  • money
    In general, money ensures survival. Hence, dreams related to finance are not uncommon. Who finds money in a dream, knows that he has the means and ways to get rid of possible difficulties in the waking state.
  • Hair loss
    Hair are symbols of youth, potency and vitality. Accordingly, hair loss is interpreted negatively in the dream: It is considered a symbol of a loss. If men dream of hair loss, they associate it with the loss of their potency. With women it stands for the fear of becoming less attractive.
  • wedding
    The dream of a wedding can be interpreted as a sign of an early pregnancy. The (own) wedding also stands for a new path and phase in life. Possibly even as a sign of an unconscious longing for more excitement, tension and variety.
  • dog
    Dreams in which a dog appears can be interpreted in different ways: On the one hand, they are a symbol of loyalty, love and obedience. Other people fear dogs (or wolves). Dreams about it can be a sign of job difficulties. The color is also decisive: a white dog is a positive harbinger, a black dog represents a threat.
  • love
    Dreams of love express a longing for togetherness and security. They either stand for satisfaction with the current state - or warn not to lose your head when you are awake.
  • sea
    The sea stands - like water (see below) - for life. It includes food. At the same time it is unfathomable and mysterious. Psychologically, the dream of the sea can stand for a departure into unknown areas.
  • Nudity
    Dreams of being naked in public have less to do with sexuality. Rather, it is about fear of exposure and vulnerability. The dreamers often try to hide from others or think badly of themselves (see: impostor syndrome).
  • horse
    In general, horses stand for grace, pride, passion and freedom. Anyone who rides a horse in a dream feels the desire for control. If, on the other hand, the horse is difficult to control, it symbolizes possible successes that have to be fought hard.
  • Snake
    The snake is considered a cunning animal. In a dream she is often a symbol of betrayal. Or it points to a lie or wrong play. Possibly a warning against false friends. The snake bite, in turn, is considered in the dream interpretation as a sign of envy and jealousy of others.
  • pregnancy
    The dream of pregnancy is not just about having children. Pregnancy also symbolizes a new start. That's why men dream of it too. Also, in pregnant women, the dream can mean that they are worried about the birth. At the symbolic level, pregnancy means that projects or plans have to mature. So be patient.
  • sexuality
    Erotic dreams rarely take place with one's own partner. Particularly irritating: Sex dreams with superiors, colleagues or family members. Don't worry: this sexuality in the dream is a symbol of the desire for more closeness or belonging. Often because relationships are in crisis. Perhaps you would like more collegiality or a better relationship with siblings.
  • spider
    Because the insects live in secret, waiting for their victims, a spider dream can be a warning. Watch out for intrigues around you! On the other hand, those who dream of being trapped in a spider's web often suffer from a feeling of helplessness.
  • dispute
    Quarrel in the dream can be the expression of an (internal) conflict. When interpreting the dreams, it can also indicate a necessary reconciliation. Anyone who quarrels with an authority (for example the police) in a dream often feels treated unfairly.
  • separation
    The first dream interpretation: acute relationship problems. You may fear that your partner is cheating on you. Likewise, dreaming of a breakup may mean changing your behavior to prevent a breakup (or termination). In addition, in the interpretation of dreams, the symbol stands for setbacks or failed plans that you need to let go of.
  • death
    A dream of death scares many. You experience it as a nightmare. When interpreting dreams, however, it stands for the end of a phase of life and the beginning of something new, for a development or change.
  • persecution
    In pursuits in dreams, it depends on the perspective: Who runs away and is being pursued is burdened with an unpleasant task or duty, from which he or she flees. If the dreaming pursuer, this indicates that one is on the track of a thing. Here the dream symbol stands for perseverance - and that you should stay on the ball.
  • water
    When it comes to the dream symbol of water, the shape matters: clear water stands for success, harmony or love. Dirty water, on the other hand, indicates confusion - we don't see through. Running water stands for a stable family situation or inner peace. If the water is driven by a pump, this symbolizes the upcoming effort. Rising water, on the other hand, warns of addiction or dependence. Or someone who is not doing us any good. Who swims in deep water in a dream has lost control over something - he or she "swims". If, on the other hand, you are floating on the water in a boat or ship, this indicates indecision and a lack of commitment.
  • Teeth (tooth loss)
    Teeth are a symbol of health and attractiveness. Anyone who dreams of losing their teeth is afraid of illness, loss or misfortune. In the interpretation of dreams, teeth falling out also stand for (threatening) changes in life - or for feelings of guilt in love.

Tips: This is how you can interpret your dreams

Sure: in order to interpret dreams, you have to remember them. What is important then: Are these recurring dreams? Then something occupies the dreaming particularly intensely. In order to get to the bottom of the matter and derive options for action for the waking state, you should pay attention to the details. The more you remember, the more reliably a statement can be made about the meaning of the dreams.

Come in addition: Some dream images have a general meaning. But there are also numerous symbols, images and signs that are interpreted differently by the respective culture or religion. For example, a pig is seen as a farm animal or a good luck charm in western cultures. In the Islamic culture, however, it is associated with impurity. So, depending on who dreams of it, the pig can have different meanings.

Structure your dreams

In order to be able to interpret your dreams, you should keep a dream journal. You can structure it as follows:

  • title
    Give your dream a title or headline so that you can find it again later under this name and compare it with others.
  • time
    Enter the date and approximate time when you dreamed (otherwise: time immediately after waking up). As the entries grow, you will get an overview of which times are particularly dream-intensive for you.
  • circumstances
    Write down the circumstances that favored the dream. For example: alcohol, heavy food, medication, another place, noise or anything else.
  • content
    Most importantly, the content itself: what is the dream about? Which colors, noises, smells or sensual impressions did you keep? This is the only way to get an overview over time of which symbols dominate.
  • rating
    How did you feel in the dream or afterwards? Was it an unsettling feeling? Were you afraid or were you feeling happy? Make a note of important emotions and appropriate circumstances in the waking state. They can be an indication of what is subconsciously preoccupying you.

70 more symbols to interpret dreams

Here are 70 + 50 more dream symbols - and their meaning in dream interpretation:

  • Abyss: Symbol of danger, fear of an unknown project
  • Rejection: Protection against possible rejection, sign of uncertainty
  • departure: Time for changes, decisions are pending
  • Barrier: Recognize hopeless situations, accept your own limits
  • absence: Unexpected events or regrets for a loss
  • Agent: Plans forged behind your back
  • bathtub: Purification of guilt or responsibility
  • railway station: Upcoming change, trend-setting decision
  • Cash: Learning to appreciate one's own worth, what is the price of behavior?
  • farm: Being down-to-earth, taking responsibility for yourself
  • Letter: Message that is expected and went unnoticed
  • Castle: Security in relationships; also warning of obstacles
  • computer: Desire for structure and rationality, perfectionism
  • cowboy: Desire for freedom and adventure, need for recognition
  • top, roof: Need for protection, plans for the future
  • date: Reminder of an appointment or the meaning of the numbers
  • detective: Fear of being exposed; guilty conscience
  • Darkness: Get to know each other better, bring needs to light
  • ebb: Transience, Memento Mori, consolation that it is getting better
  • housebreaker: The unconscious is recognized; one is being exploited
  • lonliness: Desire for integration, but also learn to be alone
  • explosion: Stands for inner tension, great pressure
  • Mythical creatures: Worry, misfortune; Defeat monsters: succeed
  • bicycle: Symbolizes movement and advancement, setting goals
  • feather: Lightness, innocence; Transition to something new
  • wing: Desire for freedom, ease of change
  • graveyard: Separation, disconnection from people or memories
  • Soccer: Carelessness, normality, fighting spirit
  • garden: Need for love, fertility and joie de vivre
  • Luggage: Image of personality, skills, memories, goals
  • Bald head: Symbol of aging, declining strength and sexual problems
  • grandmother: Security, but also your own emotional growth
  • household: Symbolizes own psychological well-being
  • witch: Malignancy; but also a positive sign for plans
  • hygiene: Inner well-being, washing yourself clean
  • interview: Questioning your own motivation and decisions
  • hunt: Set new goals, pursue plans
  • youth: Wanting to be young again, feeling vanity, remorse
  • Beetle: Sign of a positive event
  • children: Friends, happiness, but also worries
  • labyrinth: Find your own way to happiness, don't be fooled
  • Lantern: Make important insights, illuminate your own future
  • lie: Be honest, face the consequences. Otherwise misfortune threatens
  • mask: Be honest with yourself
  • knife: What do you want to part with / cut away from?
  • mother: Work up relationship; Sign for good luck or a warning
  • nature: Peace and quiet, see the important things
  • envy: Feeling of disadvantage, desire for balance
  • oasis: Need for rest and retreat
  • Slap: Take responsibility, be held accountable
  • postcard: Unexpected news; or do a chore
  • pyramid: Sign of creativity, stands for success
  • revenge: Resign yourself to a situation, do not hold grudges
  • smoke: Light smoke: Good omen; dark smoke: difficulties
  • ruin: Unprocessed past
  • sand: Transience, desire for persistence
  • Satan: Strong, repressed feelings and desires
  • key: New thoughts, opening yourself; also reason
  • Pain: Depending on the context: Successful business or difficulty
  • silence: Stop taking action, calm down yourself
  • Dove: Desire for love, peace, harmony
  • Sadness: Help in overcoming, signs of upcoming luck
  • Clock: Impermanence and development, use your time
  • vacation: You need rest, take a break
  • vampire: Not feeling up to tasks, being exploited
  • Despair: Means happiness at home, but problems at work
  • volcano: Warning of outbursts of anger; make a breakthrough
  • Libra: Decisions are pending, weigh carefully
  • Magic wand: Recognizing one's own impact on others; and vice versa
  • dwarf: Signs of inferiority

Was your dream symbol not there? Then take a look at this free PDF with 50 other dream symbols and their meanings. You can download the dream picture overview HERE for free.

What other readers have read about it

[Photo Credit: Aleutie by]
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February 24, 2021Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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