Dreams and the Subconscious mind

What’s The Curious Dreamer’s Dream Dictionary all about?

The Curious Dreamer’s Dream Dictionary is a little different to most dream dictionary’s as it doesn’t concretely say that ‘dreaming of a goldfish means money coming’ or ‘dreaming of your teeth falling out means certain death’ (I made these up by the way!). What Nancy Wagaman has done is to create a book which helps you to understand your dreams and the symbols that appear and apply them to your own life and personal circumstances. For example; a Doctor may dream of an operating theatre and surgeries taking place because it is their place of work and think little of it, whereas someone who faints at the sight of blood may link a dream about hospitals and operations to something whing is triggering fear and anxiety.

What is fun, is searching for terms, items, situations and animals to see what the possible reasons for this dream could be. Once you’ve dipped in and out a few times and read the very helpful introduction, you’ll start to understand how your subconscious mind works and how all these messages are and life and work situations are being processed while you sleep.

I particularly liked having The Curious Dreamer’s Dream Dictionary on the Kindle app on my phone so I could search for symbols when I woke and still remembered them.  

Want to know more about the subconscious mind? Then read on below with a very interesting guest post from author Nancy Wagaman. Thanks, Nancy!

The Curious Dreamer’s Dream Dictionary
Understanding what you dream can help you make the right decisions when you wake

From Nancy Wagaman, author of The Curious Dreamer’s Dream Dictionary and the recently released The Curious Dreamer’s Practical Guide to Dream Interpretation:

Dreams and the Mystery of the Subconscious Mind

What you don’t know can hurt you—or can at least make things a lot less pleasant for you. The dynamics of your subconscious mind can stealthily sabotage you and defeat even your greatest determination to create what you want in your life, when they’re operating without your awareness. Subconscious factors such as beliefs, judgments, fears, and biases are constantly influencing your thoughts, behaviours, emotions, and interactions with others, whether you realize it or not.

The subconscious mind may seem like a “strange animal” that’s difficult to understand because it is, after all, subconscious. We can’t observe it or experience it directly. However, we can learn a lot about it by observing its patterns and apparent influences on us. For example, when a thought pops into your head suddenly and without explanation, it may have surfaced from your subconscious mind. However, you may not be able to tell the difference between a thought that originated in your subconscious mind and something from your imagination, intuition, or otherwise.

The Curious Dreamer’s Dream Dictionary
You can find meaning in even the strangest of dreams

So it’s especially convenient that your dreams provide a nightly portal directly into your subconscious mind. In fact, dream interpretation is one of the only ways to get a clear picture of what’s going on in your subconscious mind. If you’re paying attention to your dreams, you may be surprised to discover what your dreams reveal your subconscious dynamics. And once you’re aware of them, you can begin to work with them more directly.

The Subconscious Tendency Toward Avoiding Unpleasantness

Based on the way the subconscious mind seems to influence us, one of the subconscious mind’s “jobs” seems to be helping us avoid harmful or unpleasant experiences, using fear as a protective mechanism. This may be why you may catch yourself focusing on fears or the “bad” things that could happen: in order to avoid them or to be more prepared in case they do happen. So when you have an unpleasant dream, it’s possible that underlying that dream was your subconscious mind’s motivation to:

  • Better understand such a situation in order to avoid it in real life.
  • Examine what factors might lead to such a situation (again, in order to avoid it).
  • Consider what the situation might be like if you were to encounter it.
  • Explore how you would think, feel, and react in that situation (and whether your reaction would be sufficient).
  • Prepare yourself in case you were to actually encounter a similar situation (sort of like a rehearsal).
  • Remind yourself how important it is to avoid such a situation.

Possible Triggers for Unpleasant Dreams

If you can identify what triggered a troublesome dream, that may help you understand the dream’s meaning and possibly why it showed up when it did. For example, the dream might have been triggered by an innate fear (such as related to self-preservation). Another possibility is that the dream was portraying something undesirable you experienced in real life (in person, on TV or on the internet, in your imagination, etc.).

A real-life event can show up in your dream in an exaggerated way if strong emotion is involved. For example, consider if in real life you were taking a shower and suddenly noticed a tiny spider on the ceiling above you. If you’re really afraid of spiders, the shower encounter might show up in a dream as a huge “spider flying saucer” descending toward you from the sky during a rainstorm. In such scary dreams, the subconscious mind may be injecting its fear of spiders into the dream events, amping them up and portraying them as more extreme (again, perhaps emphasizing the idea of avoiding future encounters with spiders).

The Curious Dreamer’s Dream Dictionary
Understanding a bad dream

Another type of unpleasant dream is what I call a “Toxic Dream,” which is a dream triggered by by a toxic state in which you’re physically, mentally, or emotionally overloaded during sleep. Toxic Dreams are usually very realistic and upsetting dreams, and they can be terrible nightmares. Often, having a Toxic Dream simply indicates that you were in a toxic state at the time of the dream, more than providing any useful meaning to interpret. These dreams can result from a number of factors the day or evening before, such as eating certain foods (sweets, other junk food, additives, etc.), eating too much or too close to bedtime, medications, alcohol, allergy or sensitivity reactions, environmental toxins, stress, or “toxic” emotions.

What Should I Do If I Have An Unpleasant Dream?

So, next time you have an unpleasant dream, consider whether the dream could have been replaying something you experienced in real life or something that was on your mind before the dream, perhaps portrayed in an exaggerated way. If so, then your subconscious mind may have been exploring how to avoid that situation or merely reminding you that you want to avoid it in real life. If the dream doesn’t seem related to anything you’ve experienced in real life, then consider whether it could have been a Toxic Dream by evaluating any physical, mental, or emotional influences that may have been at play. Don’t recognize any of those? Perhaps you simply don’t remember the real-life trigger, or perhaps your subconscious mind was just using the dream state to explore an imagined situation.

Even if you can’t identify the trigger of a disagreeable dream, you can still gain something valuable based on what you do know about the dream. For example, if you dream that you totally bungle a speech that you’re scheduled to make next week in real life, you can choose to prepare extra-well for to ensure that the speech goes as smoothly as possible. If you don’t know why you dreamed about a monster, but you know that you tend to dream about monsters when you’re under stress, you can take steps to reduce your daily stress levels.

With that said, it’s also important to keep in mind that many nightmares are best ignored rather than interpreted. You’ll find an explanation of which dreams to ignore in Chapter 1-4 of my book, The Curious Dreamer’s Practical Guide to Dream Interpretation, plus my favourite techniques for recovering from a nightmare in Chapter 3-25 of the same book.

The Subconscious Tendency Toward Creating Pleasant Experiences

If we’re observing the content of our dreams, we might assume that another “job” of the subconscious mind is to help ensure we experience more of what we find enjoyable (the flip-side of protecting us against harm). In this case, the underlying dynamic behind pleasant dreams might involve a subconscious motivation to:

  • Create a pleasant experience just to enjoy it during the dream state.
  • Better understand how to create a similar experience or feeling in real life.
  • Consider what the situation might be like if you were to encounter it (such as whether you would truly enjoy it).
  • Prepare yourself in case a similar situation were to really happen (perhaps to avoid any missteps).
  • Remind yourself how important this kind of pleasantness is to you, or that you desire more of this kind of experience in your life.

Consider the last time you had a pleasant dream and how you felt during and after the dream. Sometimes the happiness or peace associated with the dream itself is an experience in and of itself, even if you never have such an experience in real life. In these cases, it’s possible that your subconscious mind created the dream just to have that experience during the dream state. Maybe you’ve been working too hard lately and your subconscious mind decided you needed to relax, so it created a dream in which you were relaxing on a warm tropical beach. In other cases, your subconscious mind may have created a pleasant dream as an expression of your desire for more of whatever the dream represents in your real life (such as dreaming about visiting your grandma because you could really use a big dose of unconditional love right now).

Insights on Subconscious Dynamics Behind a Dream

When a dream seems to express a subconscious dynamic (whether pleasant or unpleasant), you can look for certain indicators that can provide more clues to what the dream says about you or your life. A few examples are:

  • Elements of the dream that obviously represent aspects of your real life (such as your mother or your workplace) which can indicate that the dream was referring to those same aspects of your real life (your actual mother or your work).
  • Your feelings during the dream, especially about particular events, characters, and symbols. Chances are that the way you feel about a particular dream element during the dream is the very same way you feel about whatever that element represents from your real life.
  • Extreme emotion during a dream, which could point to something your subconscious mind considers important (scary! desirable!) or urgent.
  • Too much or not enough of something in the dream, which may point to too much or not enough of something in your real life (or a fear of overwhelm or lack).

You’ll find much more about subconscious dynamics and how to identify clues to dream meaning in The Curious Dreamer book series:

The Curious Dreamer’s Dream Dictionary
Author Nancy Wagaman

The Curious Dreamer’s Practical Guide to Dream Interpretation

A “dream coach in a book” that walks you step-by-step through interpreting your dream, finding the value in it, and using it to improve yourself and your life. “You will become your own dream expert,” according to one enthusiastic reviewer.


The Curious Dreamer’s Dream Dictionary

This dream dictionary unlocks the power of dream symbols with tips, tools, and 1500 symbols defined for personal growth. One reviewer exclaims, “This is the coolest book I’ve ever read about dreams!”


(Paperbacks are available from Amazon, ebooks from most online booksellers.)

Whether or not you always remember your dreams or can figure out their meaning definitively, you’ll undoubtedly find that there’s always some value in them—and if you’re paying attention, you may just discover that they can change your life.

More About The Curious Dreamer Books

You can read these books standalone or use them together. If you’re interested in learning in-depth how to interpret your own dreams, start with The Curious Dreamer’s Practical Guide to Dream Interpretation. If you want to explore particular dream symbols when you wake up from a dream, you’ll want a copy of The Curious Dreamer’s Dream Dictionary on your nighstand.

Keep Exploring

To explore dreams further, here are some more resources:

Twitter: @CuriousDreamers

Facebook: @TheCuriousDreamer, @TheCuriousDreamerBooks

Pinterest: @DreamMeanings

Instagram: @TheCuriousDreamerOfficial