People have been fascinated with dream meanings for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians wrote down their dreams and took them to priests who performed dream interpretations. The Ancient Greeks believed that dreams were omens of events to come. More recently, psychoanalysts thought that dreams held the secrets to a person’s mental health.
Dreaming is one of the few things that all human beings have in common, regardless of age, race, gender, or political affiliation. We all dream. More than dreaming alone, many of us experience dreams about the same situations. Have you ever dreamed that you were forced to speak in front of your entire graduating class while naked? That you were being chased by an unknown-but-terrifying creature?
Is it All New-Age, Hocus Pocus?
Interpreting dream meanings has a long history, even the Christian Bible speaks of kings having their dreams interpreted. The more modern approach to dream interpretation actually came from the field of psychology.
According to one of the earliest proponents of interpreting dream meanings, Sigmund Freud, dreams are wishes in disguise and serve as the fulfillment of that wish, a repressed wish, or an infantile wish. There must be something to these common dreams shared by so many people across time, distance, and culture. Below are seven of the most commonly reported dream scenarios, along with the possible dream meanings behind them.
Dream Meanings: Dreaming of Falling
You’re falling fast asleep, safe and comfortable in your toasty warm bed. All is well and good. The next thing you know, you’re jerking awake in a panic after dreaming of a sudden fall. Whether you dream of plummeting from a tall building or merely missing one of the porch steps, dreams of falling are jarring and unpleasant for most people. But what do they mean?
The one thing all forms of falling have in common is that the person doing the falling has ultimately no control over where they will land. This suggests a feeling of losing control in one’s waking life. Dreams of falling could represent feelings of powerlessness and loss of control over yourself, your career, or your life in general. If you frequently dream about falling, it may be time to take control of the areas of life you feel insecure about. Climb into the driver’s seat and make some powerful decisions about your life.
Dreaming of Being Chased
It is easy to forget that human beings once lived a life where being chased by predators was a real possibility. Perhaps that flight instinct still resides in us all, triggered by the anxieties of our over-scheduled lives. Regardless of the cause, dreams of being chased are rarely a pleasant experience. In fact, they can be downright terrifying. Being chased isn’t only a common dream, it’s also considered one of the most widely reported nightmare themes for both children and adults.
It is generally believed that there is a common theme behind dreams of being chased: avoidance. Whether it’s a relationship that has gone south, a dead end job, or an ignored health concern, you’re running from something. Deal with your problems head-on, no matter how scary they seem. Dealing with a few intimidating issues in your waking life could provide some much needed quality sleep, minus the nightmares.
Dreaming of Water or Drowning
Perhaps you’ve always lived in the desert, yet you still find yourself dreaming of a vast blue sea. Dreams of large bodies of water are incredibly common. There are many possible variations that can result in a very serene and pleasant sleep experience or a rather frightening one. Dreaming of canoeing across a lake with your angelic, departed grandmother is one thing. Floating alone in a deep blue ocean as far as the eye can see, gasping for air as your arms give out and you sink below the salty surface is quite another. But, is there any difference in meaning between the two?
The state of the water in your dream may be able to tell you the most about its meaning. Is the water calm and still or violent and turbulent? It is a warm, comfortable temperature or is it scalding hot or freezing? Water is thought to represent the unconscious mind. A pleasant dream about calm, flowing water can be a great sign that everything is moving in the right direction. You’re not currently worried about any troubles on the horizon. On the other hand, if you’re dreaming about being tossed around in a violent storm at sea, capsizing, and then drowning, that’s an entirely different story. This suggests intense stress and the feeling that you are drowning in your circumstances in life, unable to find a life preserver to hold onto.
Dream Meanings: Dreaming of Flying
Maybe it’s a bird, maybe it’s a plane, maybe it’s a dream. Who hasn’t had a dream about flying a time or two? Most commonly seen in men and children, the ability to fly is a theme that has been revisited in dreamland by many people throughout their lives.
Flying is a theme that is quite easy to assign meaning to. What is the freest, most unburdened creature you can think of? A bird, of course. Birds soar above the trees whenever they want to, without a care or restraint in the world. Has the same ever been said about a person? Flying represents freedom. Flying in your dreams can mean that you long to let go of the daily pressures and obligations you face and be free to do as you please. It’s a wonder every person on earth hasn’t dreamed of flying at one time or another.
Dreaming of Pregnancy or Childbirth
Dreaming about pregnancy or giving birth is, of course, incredibly common among pregnant women. More surprising is the fact that these dreams are widely reported by people who are not pregnant, including men. Imagine being a middle-aged man, falling asleep in your sensible flannel pajamas, only to be awakened by a rather vivid dream depicting you giving birth to a set of twin baby girls. A bit of a rude awakening.
As usual, dreams about pregnancy and childbirth are rarely literal. Instead, giving birth in a dream can represent a new idea or opportunity in your life. Have you recently considered starting a new business or writing a book? Your ideas are your babies. If you’re dreaming about giving birth, it’s likely that you have some big ideas on the horizon and they could potentially change your life as much as an actual baby.
Dreaming of Losing Teeth
Another unpleasant but surprisingly common dream is one in which your teeth suddenly fall out, break off, or crumble in decay. Especially popular among menopausal women, this is one dream situation that can be particularly unsettling. Depending on how graphic your dream is, you may be in for some bloody, rotten imagery that will likely stick with you throughout your day.
Our teeth are obviously a huge part of our appearance. Unlike a tattoo, a scar, or a stained shirt, you can’t hide your teeth. Dreaming about damaged or missing teeth screams of a sense of insecurity regarding physical appearance. If you’ve been feeling a little sensitive lately about a recent weight gain or the ramifications of aging, this dream is no surprise. It may be time to take care of yourself and soothe some of your concerns about your health and appearance.
Dream Meanings, Dreaming of Being Naked in Public
You’re giving a speech, leading a meeting, or rushing to a first date. Everything is fine and dandy until you suddenly realized that your clothes are missing. You stand there, helpless and humiliated, while everyone forms a circle around you to point and laugh hysterically at your expense. As universal as it may be, dreaming of being exposed to a crowd of people is a tough pill to swallow.
Clothes are made to conceal us. Without clothes, we are completely revealed and vulnerable. Dreaming of being nude in front of other people is a sure sign of feeling exposed emotionally. The fear of rejection and anxiety that most people experience when opening up completely to another human is intense. It is no surprise that these feelings can manifest themselves in the form of dreams of humiliation.
Dreams are one of the most fascinating phenomena we share, as a species. Take some time to think about your dream meanings, what they may represent, and the context of your life and feelings at the time. Keeping a dream journal to tie your emotions to your dreams may help you to eventually create a personal dream dictionary to understand yourself, your life, and your dream meanings a bit better.