The Definitive Guide To Keeping a Dream Diary

The fascination of dream interpretation

People of all walks are fascinated with their dreams. Interpreting the meaning of your dreams is at very best in the research phase. Experts have tried to explain it for centuries. During this time there have been many different theories that have surfaced about the meanings of dreams. 

One of the more common theories in regards to dream interpretation is that they have a symbolic meaning. In Freud's "The Interpretation of Dreams" he expresses his opinion on the possibility of a link between a person's dream and their true conscious reality. 

"​On the hypothesis that dreams are susceptible of interpretation, for to interpret a dream is to specify its meaning, to replace it by something which takes its position in the concatenation of our psychic activities as a link of definite importance and value.

But, as we have seen, the scientific theories of the dream leave no room for a problem of dream- interpretation; since, in the first place, according to these theories, dreaming is not a psychic activity at all, but a somatic process which makes itself known to the psychic apparatus by means of symbols."

Some of the brightest minds in the world have weighed in on the interpretation of dreams. The fascination can be attributed mainly to the physical and psychological state that accompanies a dream and the links between the content of the dream and that person's life.

Recall: the biggest issue with dream interpretation

To truly understand the meaning of a dream it is necessary to be able to recall the dream in detail. One of the prevailing problems with accomplishing this is that dreams are often forgotten quickly.​

​To further examine the issue, we will again turn to Sigmund Freud himself. 

In his book, "The Interpretation of Dreams" he quotes Strumpell as the expert of understanding why dreams are forgotten quickly after wakening.

"In the waking state we commonly very soon forget a great many sensations and perceptions because they are too slight to remember, and because they are charged with only a slight amount of emotional feeling."

Because the experiences felt in a dream do not have any true effects to our physical or mental well-being for an extended period of time it is not easy to remember details of the dream. To truly interpret a dream, details are important. 

Whether you are attempting to link the meanings of your dreams to your life yourself, or you are seeking professional help; the details of that dream should be recorded. This is where a dream diary is a great asset for interpreting your dreams.

what is a dream diary?

The idea of a dream diary is to record as many details as possible in your dream before they have been forgotten. There are a number of details that can be recorded about the dream to further understand the meaning of the dream. 

how to keep a dream diary

Details to record of your dream​

The idea of a dream diary is to record as many details as possible in your dream before they have been forgotten. There are a number of details that can be recorded about the dream to further understand the meaning of the dream. 

Clinical psychotherapist Jeffrey Sumber believes that dreams are an important part in developing as a human being. He describes it as a way to link the unconscious mind to the conscious being. 

He suggests simply keeping a journal by your bed, and writing “No dream to record” every morning. “Within two weeks of this process, the person will begin to remember their dreams.” (In fact, “you might open the floodgates!”)

He recommends recording all of the details you can possibly remember quickly after waking:

  • Emotions: Were you angry, sad, uncomfortable, remorseful, etc.? How did you feel about these feelings you were having in the dream?
  • Thoughts: Was there a recurring thought you had during the dream? Write it down as it could have some significance to your conscious mind.
  • Personalities: Often there are many people in our dreams. Write down there names and anything peculiar about the way they were interacting with you in your dream. Sometimes we manifest ourselves in other people through our unconscious mind. 
  • Elements: Was there an object in your dream that might have some significance to you? Maybe it's an old bookshelf that your grandmother had, record these details as well.
  • Physical state: People will often dream about themselves in a different form than their true conscious state. Were you in a wheelchair? Were you younger in your dream?
Where to keep your dream diary

Remember a dream diary should be kept daily. In order to have the best chance of understanding the meanings of your dream you need to keep a detail account every night.

Because of this you should put the diary or journal within reaching distance and also be sure to have a pen or pencil handy to jot down everything you can remember. ​A nightstand is really the best place to store your dream diary. 

Remember this should be dedicated to your dreams and not a journal that records your daily conscious interactions. While journals are also good to keep for dream interpretation as they can help you compare your conscious state to your dreams; you should not mix the two in any way.​

in conclusion

The concept of interpreting dreams is one that is complicated to say the least. While many theories surround the exact meaning of a dream, there are some conclusions that can be drawn from the happenings of your unconscious mind and how they affect your conscious state.

Keeping a dream diary is a way of not only helping you to recall the dreams, but also one of the only ways of actually understanding the meanings of your dreams.

If you truly are in search of the meaning of your dreams, you have to be able to give a detailed account of what your dream was about and how it is tied to your physical being. Keeping a detailed record of your dreams will help to set you on the path to interpreting your complicated unconscious mind.​

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