Recurring dreams represent recurring motifs in our lives, and paying attention to those dreams can tell us a lot about who we are.
Dreams reach into the depths of our unconscious fears and desires and project some of our deepest, most powerful emotions into the mindscape.
Most of us don't remember most of our dreams. In fact, we dream multiple times during the night and only remember the last dream that we had before waking up. Scientists and researchers are still trying to determine the causes and the significance of dreams. It is difficult to study a phenomenon that can only be recalled from memory on waking.
Psychoanalysts believe that dreams represent unconscious, repressed feelings and thoughts as well as our primal instinctual side, called the Id. They believe that when we sleep, all the mental barriers and defense mechanisms our mind puts in place to protect us from and bring order to our thoughts disappear and these unconscious impulses take reign of our mind and express themselves in our inert, sleeping bodies.
Other scientists do not take dreams so seriously. They consider dreams a form of background noise generated by neurons firing in our sleep. They believe that dreams are a by-product of the nightly maintenance processes that our brain undergoes as it analyzes, sorts, and stores all the information it received during the day.
Either way, dreams are a fascinating way of getting insight into ourselves because there is no denying that dreams represent our inner environment, whether directly or indirectly through symbolic activities. Since psychoanalysts believe that the unconscious part of the mind stores information in the form of symbols, they look at dreams in a deeper sense to figure out their underlying meaning. Let's see what they have to say about some of the most common dreams.
You may have had dreams of falling off a building or falling off a steep staircase. You may also have had dreams of falling from a relatively low height, but the fall seemed to take forever, and you find yourself startled awake just before you hit the ground.
Falling is a sign of stress or anxiety in your life. You believe that you have no control over a situation and you are desperately trying to manage it, but feel like you're failing. Or the dream could be indicative of a goal you have been working toward that you see slipping further and further away from you. Whatever it may be, falling is a sign that you need to let go or relax and find ways to manage your stress in healthy ways.
Some of the scariest nightmares involve running away from a creature or a villain that is quickly catching up to you. And no matter how hard you try, your legs just don't seem to listen to you as you try to run faster. Whatever is chasing you may never catch up to you in the dream, but it will in real life.
When you find yourself running away in a dream, you are running away from facing difficult situations in your own life. Avoidance of issues is commonly associated with being chased in a dream. You know you have to overcome a hurdle at work, with your family, or within yourself, but you've been delaying working on it.
One of the most embarrassing dreams that seem frighteningly real when you experience it is the dream in which you suddenly lose your clothes in a public place or find yourself naked in public. Some people panic and run helter-skelter, trying to find a way to hide their nudity or clothe themselves again. You'll be surprised to know that not everyone reacts the same way in this dream. Some people are completely fine being nude in public in their dreams.
Nudity is a representation of vulnerability or fear of exposure. You may be struggling with social anxiety or feel uncomfortable with yourself. You may be hiding thoughts and feelings that you're afraid to show people. Your insecurities are taking over your life, and you're desperate to share them, even though you avoid facing them.
In this dream, you find yourself in school sitting for an exam you know nothing about, and the complex terms and formulas seem to swirl around in your mind and taunt you. Or you're late for an exam that you haven't prepared for, and you barely have time to write before you're required to turn your paper in.
Often, we experience this dream when we're afraid of failing at something that is important to us. When we know we have the ability to carry out a difficult task but are still afraid of messing it up, our anxiety may express itself in this dream. If you're a perfectionist, it's time to cut yourself some slack and give yourself room to err as it is only human after all.
If you're not sure whether you're flying or falling in your dream, take note of your emotions. When you're flying in your dream, either on your own or in a plane, you have a sense of euphoria and freedom. Falling through the clouds is not the same kind of dream, as it represents the helplessness you face. In a flying dream, you're completely in control and ecstatic.
When you're flying in your dream, you feel free and unobstructed. The world is your oyster, and there are so many opportunities for yourself that you can envision. You feel like life has so much to offer you and you are ready to go out and take it for yourself. Another explanation may be that you have just overcome a major life hurdle and you finally feel free of the obstacle.
When you find yourself flying down a highway in a car that doesn't seem to respond to your manoeuvring, you're probably experiencing a crisis in your life. You feel like control of your life is slipping out of your hands and you have no way to change the direction your life is going. Just like the out-of-control car, your life is taking turns you never expected and you feel like you're going to crash.
You feel desperate to use the toilet, but you can't find one anywhere. The one you do find is locked, or there's no water or toilet paper in there. Or you're in a situation you can't get out of, like an interview or a meeting with your boss, and you're desperate to pee.
When you're unable to relieve yourself in your dream, you're experiencing a similar sort of feeling in life. You have a lot of bottled up frustration or negativity that you really need to let out, or there is someone or something in your life that is bad for you that you need to get rid of.