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What Does a Dream About an Elevator or an Escalator Mean?
Elevator dreams often represent events and emotions that are very similar to the way elevators work in waking life: sometimes we’re moving on up and sometimes we’re free falling with no bottom floor in sight.
But elevator dreams are much more than simple metaphors for life's ups and downs on deeper, more complex levels. For example,
Rising in an elevator or an escalator can represent:
- Progress or growth on a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual level.
- Rising above life's circumstances.
- Coming out of a period of depression.
Descending on an elevator or an escalator can represent:
- Feelings of powerlessness.
- Feeling trapped.
- Bravely descending into the unconscious to confront its contents.
In this article, we'll cover not only elevators that go up and down, but also elevators that are stuck, dilapidated, or out of order, and those that repeatedly stop on the same floor. So let's hop on the elevator and take a ride into its symbolism to help sort out its meaning in your dream.
First Question to Consider: Where Is the Elevator (or Escalator) in Your Dream?
Before analyzing the direction in which a dream elevator is traveling or even if it is functioning properly, it is helpful to pay attention to the place in which the dream elevator is located. Consider whether the dream elevator is in a place that actually exists in the waking world or if it is in a purely imagined locale. Whether it is a dream location or a real place you know in the waking world, consider if the place symbolizes:
- Work, like an office building or your actual workplace.
- Knowledge, like a library.
- Spirituality, like a church.
The locale of the elevator is important because it gives us vital information regarding the area of life where we are ascending, descending, stuck, or in need of repair. If the place is a purely dream location, the dream is likely revealing spiritual or emotional issues. If the location is one known to you in the waking world, the dream may be directing you to more tangible issues you're facing in daily life.
Once you have your dream elevator's location, move on to pairing the symbolism of that place with the actions covered below to get an accurate idea of what your elevator dream is trying to communicate.
7 Things an Elevator Dream Might Mean
1. Going Up? (Progress, Success, or Disintegration)
Traveling up in a elevator does, on the surface, symbolize a time of progress, an easy ascent, or an elevation in emotions.
If your elevator is traveling upward in a normal fashion (that is, if it is behaving as a waking-life elevator would), neither ascending too quickly nor too slowly, this can mean that your journey is a natural, effortless one and can represent the payoff for previous hard work.
However, if your dream elevator is moving upward far faster than any normal waking-life elevator could, your dream might be positive or negative.
- On the positive side, a dream of a rapidly ascending elevator may indicate a pleasant surprise, an unexpected blast-off of sorts, or a sudden, unexpected rise in your situation or standing.
- On the negative side, a dream of an elevator rising beyond what is natural can symbolize impatience with our current circumstances or a desire for an easy fix or a quick solution for difficult problems that requires no effort on our own parts.
- Also, rising too quickly may also symbolize instability or ignored warning signs that you are taking on far too much far too quickly without the necessary foundation to support growth. We all want to rise as quickly as possible, but traveling upward without any roots presents a dangerous situation conducive to a catastrophic fall.
2. Going Down? (Depression or Insight)
On a literal level, descending in an elevator dream metaphorically represents something that brings us down. That something can be a situation or person. It may even be a sign that we're struggling with depression. Start by looking at the location of the elevator for clues as to what or who it is that is the source of sinking feelings or a depressed outlook on life.
A Drop Into the Unconscious
However, on a much deeper level, descending in a dream elevator can symbolize that we are undergoing a perilous but courageous journey into our own psyches, plumbing the depths of the hidden unconscious in order to attain a greater level of psychic wholeness.
Rarely do we ever want to make a descent into the unconscious, because rarely is the unconscious a pretty place. The unconscious is the place of the Shadow archetype, the place where we hide everything unpleasant about ourselves, everything we want to distance ourselves from to avoid the pain involved in confronting it.
However, the rewards of taking a dream elevator down into the dark recesses of the mind where only the stout-hearted tread are priceless because, as Jung states, "in the Shadow lies the gold." What he means is that confronting the Shadow and all its unpleasantness leads to the reward of psychological integrity.
We only gain psychic wholeness when we look for the roots of our imbalances and tend them rather than simply allowing them to fester deep underground, thereby permeating our existence with rot.
Traveling into the unconscious is not a task we should undertake alone. It is a place where we need support, whether that support comes from a trusted friend, a therapist, or a priest. The person to whom we go for support during such a descent needs to be one we are certain we trust, whom we are sure will accept us, and whom we are confident will see in us the gold obscured by the darkness of the Shadow.
3. Trapped in an Elevator (Claustrophobia)
For some of us, being trapped is our biggest fear, and dreams of being trapped in an elevator can be perfect expressions of that fear. Sometimes dreams of being trapped in an elevator indicate feelings of intense claustrophobia, but the claustrophobia need not be literal.
In dream parlance, the claustrophobia can be a way of articulating that there is something in the waking world that makes us feel trapped. We might feel trapped in an unfortunate family dynamic, in a career that we once loved but which now feels like a dead end, or in a relationship that once fed us emotionally, but which we have now outgrown.
4. Deep of HIdden Feelings Revealed in Elevator Dreams
The feelings we experience—both in a dream and also the ones we're left with upon waking from that dream—are vital to helping us analyze the message a dream has for us. We should pay particular attention anytime we find ourselves having emotions different from those we would normally have in the waking world when we encounter a similar situation.
For example if, in waking life, we get on elevators without a thought beyond pressing the button to get to the correct floor, yet find ourselves petrified to get on one in a dream, it behooves us to identify what it is about the dream elevator that evokes terror.
Alternatively if, in waking life, elevators scare us enough that we'll gleefully take the stairs no matter what number of flights yet in a dream, we're joyfully hopping into an elevator filled with folks, then finding out what is so different about that dream elevator is of utmost importance.
5. Elevator Floors (Stuck or Hindered)
Look at the floors in your dream, especially if you keep getting stuck on a particular floor or if you find yourself repeatedly getting off on the same floor. Getting stuck on a particular level or stuck between levels can indicate feelings of being unable to completely transcend a particular situation or, alternatively, a feeling that we're able to only proceed to a certain point after which no further progress is possible.
To try and sort out what this issue might be, first look at where the elevator is located, then pay attention to the number of the floor on which the dream elevator is stuck.
The Significance of Numbers
Numbers in dreams can carry significance such as standing in for an anniversary or an age at which something important happened. Getting stuck on a particular floor might symbolize a core problem to which the dream is trying to direct our attention. For example, when we find ourselves stuck on the first floor, this may indicate that there is something basic holding us down.
Again, consider where your dream elevator is and see how that symbolism might correspond to that which prevents ascent and/or progress. Is the symbol emotional, physical, or mental? Answering that question helps us hone in on what needs repair so we may rise above it.
An Elevator That Won't Stop
Dreaming about elevators that refuse to stop to let you off can indicate a profound dissatisfaction with where you are in life. Again, look at where the elevator is to get more information.
6. Broken Elevator (Misery or Brokenness)
A dilapidated or broken elevator can reflect our own feelings of brokenness or severe depression.
Dreams of broken or dilapidated elevators can be particularly distressing because an elevator is something outside ourselves—a powerful mechanism that we use to assist us—and if that force, that power that we typically depend upon feels non-functional, then we are left alone, impotent and vulnerable.
Feelings in Dreams
As always, it is imperative to remember that feelings are just that—feelings. About the only thing that is completely true and real about our feelings is that we are feeling them. Feelings are not facts. Feelings are not prophecy. Feelings are not even synonymous with intuition.
Feelings are emotional reactions to situations—they're coping mechanisms we use to navigate our lives. Sometimes, our feelings function as a positive response to life events; other times, our feeling are completely dysfunctional reactions that serve no purpose other than to exacerbate an already difficult situation.
The reason it is important to keep this information in mind is because our normal reaction to disturbing imagery and/or disturbing feelings is to panic or to view the feelings as confirmation that everything we feared was actually true. Remembering that our feelings are not necessarily reality helps us face that which is unpleasant in our lives without assigning it more meaning than it actually has.
If you are dreaming of a broken elevator and feel as though everything you rely on, right down to those sources of power that are greater than yourself, has abandoned you or that you yourself are broken beyond repair, it is wise to look at the feeling, recognize the seriousness of it, and to speak honestly and openly about it with someone. You may consider going into counseling.
Fear, distress, and despair not only thrive on isolation, but grow there. As dangerous as it sounds, when we feel broken, that is the time when we most likely need to face our vulnerability and reveal those feelings to someone we can trust. Recurrent dreams of broken elevators might indicate that now is that time.
7. Falling in an Elevator (Impostor Syndrome)
When we find ourselves in the terrifying nightmare of falling in an elevator, this dream can symbolize a fear that our lives are suddenly out of control or that we're in danger of crashing after a spectacular rise in life.
To ascertain whether this dream is a reflection of a possible waking-life reality or simply neurosis requires us to be completely honest with ourselves. Ask yourself. . .
- Have you climbed to where you are honestly, with due diligence, or have you cut corners or cheated your way to the top?
- Is there something you have done which could be found out, leading to ruin?
- If you have made your way to where you are honestly and with hard work, your dreams of a spectacular fall in an elevator might simply be a reflection of "impostor syndrome."
Impostor syndrome is the pervasive belief that no matter how hard we work, no matter how faithfully we execute our duties, we feel that we are frauds, liars, and deceivers, no matter how much evidence to the contrary there is in the outer, waking world.
Impostor syndrome is a learned, maladaptive psychological behavior. It often appears in people who grew up feeling that love was predicated on performance rather than something one had a right to simply by virtue of who one is.
Look at your falling elevator dream closely because it might offer you a chance to step out of false feelings of being an impostor and into an authentic place of being!
Whether you are going up, going down, stuck, or crashing in your dream elevator, never forget that dreams don't typically exist to warn us about unavoidable events about to transpire in the waking world. Rather, dreams exist to alert us to the conditions of our psyches and what may transpire if we continue following the path we are currently on. If we're traveling in the direction we're trying to go, then we can look at our dreams as delightful confirmation that we're going the right way.
Sometimes, however, we take the wrong path or press the wrong button and find ourselves heading toward a place we never intended to go. Our dreams, even our nightmares, can help us see where we went wrong and show us the way to get back on track.
- Understanding Your Fear of Elevators
Although accidents are rare, the fear of elevators is pervasive. Why are we so afraid, and how can we fight our elevator phobias? Find the answers.
- Acrophobia (The Fear of Heights): Are You Acrophobic?
Do you have acrophobia? Do you wish you could overcome your fear of heights so that you could go on fun rides at amusement parks and appreciate beautiful mountain and skyscraper views? Learn more about your phobia and how to cope with the fear.
- How Dream Interpretation Helped Prevent a Mental Breakdown
Fascinating account of how accurately interpreting a dream about taking the elevator instead of the stairs helped one person avoid a mental break.
Never Forget to Consider How a Dream Makes You Feel
One of the most important aspects to consider when interpret a dream is how that dream made you feel—not only during the dream, but upon waking.
Are We Gonna Let the Elevator Bring Us Down?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Aisling Ireland
I Ness on June 07, 2020:
Thank you for the insight. Fabulous! For years I have been dreaming about being in an elevator that is going up so fast I think it will not be able to stop just to wake up just in time before it does. Then a few years ago I decided to let the elevator keep going. And to my surprise i have dreamt since about and it does come out. Last night I dream about this again and the elevator came out, we flew out of it and kept dreaming that nothing had happened to me. I was actually happy and thankful. I had looked up the meaning before but nothing made sense. When i woke up this morning i curious again to find out more and found this fantastic piece about the Impostor effect and now it completely clicked. Both the article and the Ted Talk described me. Wow! Thank you, what a blessing and a new tool to help me be more kind to myself. Thank you!!
Kelly S Sizemore on April 07, 2020:
My Dream was at a Hospital i was in Wheelchair trying to get on Elevator i got on but there wasn't any buttons to take me to bttm floor. I was alone in it. Elevator starts to move up. There were 2 Elevator Doors, the Steel doors & a dirty cream doors. The cream doors open & i hurried off. To my right was a brick wht wall. The left had Surgery Automatic Doors. RN'S & Surgeons were walking past me. Nobody asked if i was ok?... Then i was on the floor, I finally got a RN to check me. She called other Medical Help i H8 This Dream!! I H8 Wheelchairs! Please, what does this mean?
Yadi on April 01, 2020:
My dream is that I’m lost them I find my way & I see elevators many with numbers. However, I am standing there & I know the destination of each elevator. I take the elevator & it takes me somewhere else.
Ken Schillereff on March 13, 2020:
Very good insights here.
Erik on February 24, 2020:
I had a dream on going in the elevator to the 110 floor I got out on the 110 floor the building was a hospital from there I don’t remember the rest but I am really curious about what my dream means
Donna martin on February 18, 2020:
Your writing style is professional yet personal, detailed but not difficult to understand....for some reason i really like it, thank you.
Lottie on February 15, 2020:
I keep on having this weird dream where I get into an elevator and it just goes really fast up and down and falling and it opens its doors but I can’t get out.. what does this mean??
Sam Afton on February 07, 2020:
I had a dream last night where I was in some sort of video game reality and a friend and I was trying to go down. I found an elevator and I went in it and right before he went in, one if the cables broke. The elevator didn't fall but was dangling from one side, the back of the elevator furthest down. I eventually got out but I have no idea what it means. Can you help me out?
Nelly Ramachandran on January 18, 2020:
THank you for this detailed analysis. It was helpful.