Dream Analysis: What Does Your Dream Mean?
Everyone dreams. Sometimes our dreams are silly and far-fetched; other times, they're fearful or disturbing. Maybe you dream the same dream over and over again. Some people claim they can't remember their dreams.
Dreaming is important. We need to dream. Dreams come from our subconscious minds, and we can learn a lot about ourselves by analyzing them. They force us to see things that we do not want to deal with, and they can help us remember something we couldn't remember when awake. There is meaning to every dream, and even the most preposterous have meaning.
Some famous writers were inspired by dreams. Frankenstein came to author Mary Shelley in a dream. Robert Louis Stevenson dreamed of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde before ever writing them on paper. Sometimes, the stories we tell ourselves while we're sleeping can be psychic in nature. These are known as prophetic dreams.
Below, we'll discuss:
- Interpretations of the most common dreams.
- A list of symbols and what they might mean.
- Theories about why we dream, why we have recurring dreams, why some people don't dream, and whether dreams can predict the future.
Common Dreams and What They Mean
failing or literally losing control; common for those facing major problems or insecurity at work, in relationships, or somewhere else
liberation; transcending old issues, finding new solutions (are you soaring high or struggling to get off the ground?)
teeth falling out
as symbols of strength, the loss of teeth can signal the loss of power; poor health, feelings of unattractiveness, fear of aging, general anxiety or fear of rejection; some believe this is a sign of sexual issues/impotence
vulnerability, social anxiety, fear of being judged or analyzed; you may be unprepared for a project or decision or hiding something and afraid of being exposed; if people in your dream do not notice your nudity, maybe your fears are unfounded
taking a test
performance anxiety, fear of imperfection, fear of being evaluated by higher-ups
a fear or desire to see something (job, relationship, pattern) end; the end of one phase and the beginning of another
avoiding problems, paranoia, running away from past (an opportunity to stop, turn around, and face issues)
lack of trust, fear of losing relationship, insecurity
lack of control, missed opportunities, trying to do too much
indicates a desire to nurture and give life to a new life, idea, creative project, or relationship
the road is a representation of life: are you in the flow or stuck in traffic? If you are at the wheel, you are in control, and if someone else is driving, it could mean that you are being controlled by another person; pay attention to whom is driving
meeting a celebrity
the dreamer's need for recognition
water represents emotions: are you drowning, floating, or dying of thirst? clear water is a sign of good things to come; dark, polluted, or murky water may be a bad omen
houses represent the dreamer's mind, and different floors or rooms represent different ideas (is it tidy or neglected? are there hidden places?)
Interpretations for Common Dream Symbols
The meanings of common dream symbols vary from person to person. When interpreting your dream, keep in mind the setting, characters, and other symbols, as this will help you get a better understanding.
- Aging: Could be fear of change or getting older. It could also symbolize forgiveness, letting go, wisdom, or being at peace.
- Babies: Something new: news, a project, happiness, responsibilities.
- Birth: A new project, the start of something new.
- Cats: Aloofness, independence, vanity, beauty; could mean "a catty person."
- Childhood Home: Old beliefs, parents' ideas, and beliefs. Outdated or old fashioned ideas about family.
- Children: Innocence, happiness, being carefree and playful. It could also mean immaturity or that you are being naïve about something.
- Dogs: Loyalty, friendship, trust, and companionship.
- Finding Valuables / Money: Success and prosperity within reach.
- Hair: Cutting hair symbolizes a loss of power. Bleaching hair may represent vanity. Losing hair can mean fear of aging, self-consciousness, worry about appearances.
- Ladders and Stairs: Walking upstairs means success. Walking downstairs means failure. A spiraling staircase can mean your life is "spiraling out of control."
- Being Lost: Not feeling in control, feelings of helplessness. Losing valuables/money could mean an unexpected gain.
- New House: New phase in life, new beginnings, happy endings.
- School: A common dream for adults is being back in school, missing a class, being late, or failing a test, and then not being able to graduate. If you have had this dream you may be feeling like you are failing at something or are living below your potential.
- Snakes: Watch out for backstabbers and false friends.
- Strangers: Strangers in our dreams represent ourselves. They could be a part of our personalities we are not consciously aware of, or could be a hidden talent that we haven't yet discovered.
Note: These meanings are very general. Use this guide but also take note of the feelings you are experiencing during your dream, and when you wake up. You should also take into consideration what is going on in your life. For example, the dream meaning of being pregnant would not apply if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.— William Dement
Why Do We Dream?
Scientists have been studying dreams for decades now, but we still aren't sure how and why we dream. Here are a few of the theories:
- They help our brains learn, sort, evaluate, and process everything that happens to us during the waking hours. There is some research to support the theory that dreams are part of how we learn and form memories. Studies show that people who are actively learning during the day have more dreams; one study found that students learning a language had more dream activity than non-students.
- They help us deal with our emotions. Especially if we haven't had time to process the emotion during the day, some believe that our brains use the downtime to sort things out.
- They have no meaning and serve no function whatsoever. Until we understand dreams more, we might take into consideration the idea that they're just a meaningless byproduct of sleep.
A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read.— The Talmud
Why Do I Keep Having the Same Dream Over and Over Again?
A recurring dream, one that keeps coming back to you, can be disturbing. You may have it a few times a month or more frequently. It may be accompanied by a sense of urgency or a negative feeling.
Think about what is going on in your life. Have you had a trauma, or are you in a transitional period? Maybe there is something big and upsetting that you cannot bring yourself to think about during your waking hours.
A recurring dream will not stop until you face whatever it is that is happening in your life. You know deep down that whatever is happening to cause them needs to be addressed. It may help to start keeping a journal. Before going to bed, write down events of the day. When you wake up, record your dream. You may see a pattern.
Once you know and deal with the cause, you will no longer have the recurring dream.
But What If I Don't Dream?
You dream every night. People who say they don't just can't remember. As the day goes on, you remember less and less, too. If you want to remember your dreams, you must actively pursue them. Before you fall asleep, make a conscious effort to remember when you wake up. Be sure to keep a pad of paper and a pen on your nightstand. The minute you wake up, write your dream down. Even if you don't remember the first time, don't give up. You will eventually start remembering.
Studies show that we dream more during the REM stage of sleep, and if you wake up during or just after this stage, dreams are more easily remembered. So if you're an extremely sound sleeper, your dreams may fade by the morning, while a light sleeper may awaken many times during the night and therefore have more access to fresher dreams.
Dreams say what they mean, but they don't say it in daytime language.— Gail Godwin
Can Dreams Really Predict the Future?
Throughout history, people have claimed to have seen visions or prophecies while sleeping. There is no scientific evidence to back this up; however, a lot of people have claimed that it has happened to them. Dreams that are prophetic usually lack symbols and seem very real to the dreamer.
Some famous prophetic dreams might surprise you:
- Albert Einstein's theory of relativity was formed in a dream.
- Abraham Lincoln dreamed of his assassination hours before it happened.
- Julius Caesar’s wife Calpurnia had a dream the night before he died that he would get stabbed by a friend.
- Joan of Arc had a prophetic dream about her death.
- In the early 20th century, people dreamed of the Titanic sinking and canceled their trips.
- Many people dreamed of the 9/11 terrorist attacks before they happened.
Most of us also experience déjà vu at one time or another. Déjà vu is the experience of being absolutely sure that one has experienced or witnessed a situation that they are currently in. It could be the person dreamed of the event before it took place.
Once you start understanding your dreams, things in life will begin to make more sense. You will begin to gain more self-knowledge and start confronting your feelings. As you tap into your subconscious mind, you may discover talents, fears, and desires you never knew you had.
A dream is a microscope through which we look at the hidden occurrences in our soul.— Erich Fromm
© 2011 Amy DeMarco