Your dreams are personal. They reflect your values, beliefs and emotions and help you to understand the things that are happening in your life. So how can a dream dictionary, which might be read by hundreds, even thousands of people, help you?
Dreams Use Symbols to Create Meaning
The reason why dream dictionaries can be helpful is that dreams use symbols to get their message across. The meanings of these symbols are shared by many people.
For example, everyone can identify with a feeling of being "caged in", even if it is in a mental or emotional, rather than a physical sense. Perhaps, for example, you are in a situation where you don't feel that you have the freedom to express yourself. So a cage in a dream could have this symbolic meaning for many people.
Jung noticed that there are many symbols that occur repeatedly in dreams, as well as in literature and mythology. He called these dreams archetypes and attributed them to the "collective unconscious", the part of the mind that stores inherited patterns of instinct and experience that are common to all human beings.
Sometimes dream symbols can be puns, and their meaning will be understood by everyone who speaks the same language. For example, to an English speaker, a "badger" (the animal) in a dream can represent a person who "badgers" (constantly harasses) you. Everyone who speaks English will recognize this meaning.
Your Dreams are Personal
Of course, not every interpretation in a dream dictionary is going to apply to you. For example, if a dream dictionary says that your dream means you are thinking about becoming pregnant, and you are a 65-year-old man, that interpretation probably is not the right one for you. That is why good dream dictionaries will often offer a variety of interpretations for the same symbol. It is up to you to decide which interpretation fits your personal circumstances. A good dream dictionary will only suggest what a dream might mean. It will never say that your dream has one and only one meaning which is absolutely true.
You still have to do a bit of your own dream analysis, thinking about which of the interpretations in the dream dictionary applies to you, how it applies and how you can use this information to change your life for the better. However, a dream dictionary can give you a good head start, saving you time and possibly money as well.
For a more personalized interpretation, you can post your dream on a forum or message board that is dedicated to dream interpretation. On a forum, you can provide some information about your personal circumstances, which might help with the interpretation of the dream. If you post frequently on a forum, the other members of the forum can get to know you quite well, which will enable them to provide you with better interpretations. Of course, it is up to you to decide how much or how little information you would like to share with other forum members.
An advantage of posting on a forum is that you can receive the shared knowledge of many different people who have different experiences and may have different cultural backgrounds. You can also read about other people's dreams, and learn from them.
Why You Should Never Pay for a "Personalized Dream Interpretation"
Ok. That is not exactly true. If you are in psychoanalysis or psychotherapy, it is perfectly alright for your analyst or therapist - to whom you pay a fee - to help you to interpret your dreams. This person already knows you extremely well and would have a good understanding of what your dream means to you. They are also well-trained in techniques that will help you get to the true meaning of your dream, and you can see how these methods are being used because you are right there in the room with them.
The personalized dream interpretations that you should avoid are those made by people on the internet who claim that they can interpret your dreams if you give them money. These people have never met you and don't know anything about you. They can't do a better job at interpreting your dream than someone who is a member of a forum, which you can join at no cost.
Some of them arrive at their "personalized" interpretations by looking things up in a dream dictionary, which you could do yourself. Some just make up interpretations that they think will make you happy so you will ask for more interpretations and pay them more money.
How You Shouldn't Use A Dream Interpretation Dictionary
Some people "interpret" dreams by looking up the meaning of every symbol in the dream in a dream dictionary and then stringing the meanings together, without looking at what these symbols have in common.
For example, suppose you have the following dream:
You are in an airport terminal, holding a baby. Suddenly, you find yourself seated on a plane. You look out the window and realize that you are flying over a swiftly flowing river. The person next to you then introduces himself to you and tells you that he is travelling home to attend a funeral.
The type of dream "interpretation" mentioned above will go something like this:
Dreaming of an airport means that you .... A baby means that you ... A river means that you ... A funeral means that you ...
The interpretation stops there.
The interpreter never considers the fact that all of these symbols can signify a change in your life.
A good dream interpretation uses a dream dictionary but does more than simply repeat the meanings listed in the dictionary. A good dream interpretation looks at how all the symbols in your dream work together to provide you with an important message about yourself.